Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How to Know You've Had a Bad Day

When you wake up in the morning and you are glad you're alive, you're glad yesterday is over, and the best thing about today is that it is not yesterday you know you've had a bad day.

Last night got so bad that Justin helped me up from the couch and sent me to bed to go to sleep. He brought me a glass of water and I took the medicines I am supposed to take. I lay down to sleep; it was not even 10 p.m. yet.

"Did you take [a sleeping pill]?" he asked. It was a logical suggestion, given how much trouble I sometimes have time sleeping.

"No. I'm too dizzy; I'm scared. I don't want to."

"OK. Good night."


I closed my eyes, which kind of made the spinning stop, but not really. It wasn't as bad as the spinning of a drunken evening, but it wasn't like just lying down to go to sleep. Still, I slept until Justin came to sleep after working on his presentation until 2 a.m.


"Justin? Justin."

"Yeah, it's just me. Shhh.... I'm trying not to wake you up."

"Thank God you woke me up. I was having nightmares."

He reached toward me to calm me down. "Oh my God. You sure were. You're soaking wet."

Touching my clothes, I realized I'd been lying there sweating through my running nightmare.

I was a little bit afraid that I wouldn't be able to fall asleep, but I did, and slept for a total of 12 hours.

In the morning, I decided today would be a good day to stay at home. Take it easy. Maybe get some of the inside chores done. My yesterday kicked my ass.

Today was coffee with Justin, some computer work, making enchiladas and walking the dogs. Today was not letting myself get as sick as yesterday.

Letting myself get sick?

I gotta let up on myself.... I just had the privilege of getting that sick. It just happened. Sick just happens to me.

The problem with cyclothymia, which is a form of alternating between sadness and joy, lethargic and energetic, depressed and ...not. It is a very ...well, a milder form of a mood disorder. I don't get to alternate between lavish shopping sprees and dark drinking binges, I alternate between feeling too heavy with depression to be able to get anything done and then I make a super long list of things to do and get down on myself when I can't complete all of the tasks.

Miraculously though, Justin caught me. I'd put all of the groceries away.... lined up the cans and jars with the labels all facing the same way and carefully placed equally apart from each other (I don't think he noticed that, yet). It was later that I wanted it to be and I was exhausted and almost in tears over all that was not done, but I had to make enchiladas and Spanish rice.

Justin came into the kitchen and found me preparing to prepare (I had to clean the kitchen to be able to cook in it before I started cooking) to cook.

"Don't cook today. It will be two hours before it's ready. Let's just get something."

"But I have to cook today because there's always leftovers and you're going out of town, and I really want enchiladas and..."

He stopped me.

"Don't cook tonight. It's OK. We can have enchiladas later."


He had decided. He got the takeout menu, we called and ordered, and he went to pick up the food while I lay on the couch in disappointment, ignoring my ringing phone. He was so good and calm and caring even though he had a paper to write. He put my burrito on a plate and handed me a napkin.

So now we know... when I start talking fast and about lots of things in a row going back and forth between thoughts and I suddenly try to do too many things in one day... if Justin notices maybe he'll be able to stop me by saying something. The problem is, sometimes I don't know if I'm just back to normal--getting stuff done because THAT'S WHAT I DO, or because I think that's what I do and am missing my sense of reality.

It is totally exhausting.

I am told that when someone is in a "mood state" they think "that" is the way they always are, and so they don't remember that life wasn't always like that, they think "this" is they way they always are.

I have the extra privilege of being able to have a mixed state.

A mixed state.

Always an overachiever. Don't just have one direction of a mood disorder. Don't just go from A to B in a super-obvious way, a way that people can tell it's a sickness. I go stealthily. I trick people. I trick myself. I can rapid cycle from A to B and back again within a day, several times. I can be in both states at once--sad but totally awake even though it's night time, sad and also racing instead of subdued...

I am an overachiever mood disorder patient.

I know I have good days. "Normal" days. Non-disordered days. I know there are days when I do not have to make an effort to hold it together, or speak, or move.

I know I have good days.

I'll have more good days.

Some day.

Maybe tomorrow. Definitely soon. It has to be soon.

Maybe if I just want it enough?

It will be tomorrow.

But I have always wanted good days. Maybe I just have to stop trying to have them. Maybe trying is the problem.

I would love to write, "Maybe I should just be." But that would be a silly little bow tied at the end of a story.

Be... am.

I am a woman whose body plays tricks on my brain, my heart, my actions, my words. That's what I am. That's who I will be.

I have learned about being a "human being" instead of a "human doing." It's a healthy concept. But for me, and maybe for everyone with a mood disorder or some other illness or disease, it is a little more complicated.

I have to manage this extra thing that exists inside me; I have to make sure it stays under control and does not become my essence. I have to make sure that I have enough room to "be."

Then maybe I won't just be a person with a mood disorder, maybe I will be my real self. Maybe even breathing will be easier.

1 comment:

oakmonster said...


Actually, there's an article in that yoga magazine you have in your bathroom that you might want to clip out and read everyday. It's that Love Yourself one.

I haven't gotten around to tell you yet, but that was the magazine piece that totally changed my outlook.

It's not going to fix you, but it will definitely make you day NOT a bad day! :)