I have been mostly stable since 2008. There have been a few interludes where I slipped either into mania or depression, but I managed these so that they did not spiral out of control. So I have nothing to worry about, do I?
There’s plenty to dread. Last week, as regular readers of this blog know, I had what is known as a breakthrough episode. In this case, it was a mild case of mania that I rode out with the help of sedatives and extra sleep, literally dreaming myself into a depression. I am not like many people with bipolar in that I do not fear depression. When I am depressed, I don’t have the energy to arrange a suicide. So it is not like a mixed state where I can pull the implements together and actually begin the death-by-my-own-hand. Still it debilitates me: I remain silent for long periods of time, talking to no one, writing nothing. Even now, I struggle to find the words for what I want to say. This is the nature of The Beast and there is nothing flamboyant about it now, just a gray, blubbery monster which lies on top of me and smothers me.
Medications work for only so long, alas. I dread the day when my cocktail decides to stop being my friend. That is what I feared last week. Maybe the time has not come yet, but it will. What will I do when that day comes? Who will I hurt with my works or my actions? I do my best to know the symptoms and have plans for what to do, but these work only so far.
I am always conscious of the fact that bipolar disorder can be a terminal illness, guided to its end by my own impulses. Sometimes my brain tries to persuade me to die. Sometimes it takes control of my hand and uses it to reach for false relief in the form of pills or a knife. I can fight it, I can ignore its voice, but I will end up very tired and less able to resist.
The suicide risk is associated most with mixed states. They happen when I either fall from or climb into a mania from a depression. Mania presents its own complications that are potential life wreckers. Will I spend our reserves? Will my spending cause us to lose our house? Will I see myself as a prophet and found a cult or join one? Will I hide in the house because I am paranoid? The complications are endless and I have only had the misfortune to explore some of them.
For now, I shall deal with what I have, a depression. It will pass and I will regain stability. The tricks I use work — so far. But the future remains an unprinted page whereupon there are no answers.