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Bipolar Depression: When the Lights Go Out

I struggled for months with a depression that smothered me and lied to me—convincingly. I was plunged into darkness very suddenly. But then, at last, the light came back.

A woman stands alone in a field, with a gray sky and clouds behind her. Her shirt, arms, and hands are visible. Her collar, neck, and head are invisible. She holds a black balloon in front of her. The string's length puts the balloon in place of her invisible head.

I have been recently struggling with a very long and severe Depression. Months long. It felt like I was suffocating. Like someone was smothering me. The heaviness seemed to affect even my breathing; I had to consciously put in effort for each breath. It felt like someone just flipped the light switch off, and my mind and body were left in complete darkness.

Changes in Thinking

My thoughts became extremely negative and I convinced myself I was a hopeless and worthless person. I was not and am still not able to work, so, yes, I must be worthless. At least that is what my thoughts told me. And I believed them. If this had been another person struggling, I believe I would find compassion and empathy for them. But not for myself. This is one of the times being a perfectionist does not come in handy. Being hard on myself and having a “just buck up” attitude does more harm than good. I let my mind race with negative thoughts, and the depression only worsened. I brushed off people’s advice to take it easy on myself. Be kind. Be gentle. I think to myself, “I don’t go easy on myself. That is how I succeed. That is how I survived this long.”

Depression Is a Liar

I have heard this so many times, “depression is a liar.” I believe that to be absolutely true. But it is a very convincing liar whom I had been listening to intently. In fact, it is such a convincing liar that I started to believe its lies. That I didn’t deserve my friends or family. That I didn’t deserve to be loved. That I didn’t deserve happiness. That others and myself would be better off if I no longer existed. I have been believing these lies. Believing the lies depression tells you is very dangerous. It can even be deadly.

Changes in Behavior

I am generally a very patient person. Calm and fun-loving. But during my most recent depression, I had been irritable, quick-tempered, and isolating. Characteristics not associated with my non-depressed self. These changes in my behavior caused me even more distress and self-criticism. They had been such a stark contrast to my personality, it sometimes frightened me. I just recently started recognizing these as my depression symptoms and not believing I am becoming some type of awful person.

When the Light Switch Turns Back On

After drowning in the lies of depression, believing in my hopelessness, worthlessness, and overall failure as a person, something changed. Medication dosages were adjusted. Treatment was continued. My depression eased. To me, it was like the lights just turned back on. Just that sudden. Lightness. The suffocation feeling lifted. Thoughts of self-harm vanished. I saw the lies depression was telling me … and I no longer believed them! 

What Recovery Looks Like

Recovery for me is both a slow and a fast process. On one hand, relief of symptoms floods my being. I am genuinely laughing again and have stopped crying myself to sleep. I am sleeping. My suicidal thinking is gone.

On the other hand, I now face the parts of my recovery that didn’t improve as quickly. I start in on the loads and loads of laundry I had been unable to do. My body is readjusting to eating healthier food and getting enough sleep. My financial wreckage and job loss will take even more time to recover. But my light switch has turned back on, so somehow this seems possible. Somehow even the most damaged parts of my life seem reparable. I can breathe again.

My hope is that I always have those people who will never give up on me. Who come over and hug me, even if I haven’t showered for days. Who speak the truth and warn me of how depression lies. My hope, too, is that I am gentler and kinder to myself now, and also the next time my depression symptoms reappear. That I remember that the light does come back. My hope is that I keep hoping, keep persevering, keep staying alive. For there is hope. There is relief. Even when you are in the darkest of places, remember this. Please remember this.

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This post first appeared on Mania Bipolar Disorder - Bphope, please read the originial post: here

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Bipolar Depression: When the Lights Go Out


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