I’ve been struggling with a nasty depressive spiral the last two to three weeks. The time change hit me harder than usual this year. First I went a little manic for a few days, then I went sharply downhill. This pretty much fits the pattern of my bipolar mood swings. In the past I have thought there wasn’t really a seasonal component to my ups and downs, but that’s what seems to have happened.
More than anything, I’ve felt incredibly hopeless and worthless. It seems like no one is giving me positive or negative feedback, that I’m being ignored, and that my life is meaningless. I’ve felt like I am under heavy pressure, and that I have no freedom to make the choices I want. The suicidal thoughts started to creep in, and when I am really feeling bad, they are louder than normal. Obviously those are strong signals of a depressive episode.
I saw my therapist on Wednesday, and we had a good talk. She helped talk me through some of the worst feelings, and I left thinking my load wasn’t quite as heavy as when I went in. My mood has lightened, and I have been feeling better since then.
I think it’s important to differentiate between bipolar depression, caused by my brain chemistry, and emotional depression, caused by personal experiences of past trauma. I have little control over bipolar depression except for taking my pills regularly, and adjusting medication when things change for the worse. That’s something to consider when I see my psych two weeks from now. My experience is that the bipolar causes depression, then my emotional depression takes over and makes me feel worse than the chemical imbalance could by itself.
When I become emotionally depressed, I often get stuck in my negative thoughts and stay in a deep pit of despair until some outside force can help pull me out. In this case, it took a conversation with my therapist; other times it can be a positive interaction with a friend, an upcoming road trip, or something as simple as listening to different music. If I am feeling really poor, it takes something more significant to change my mindset.