Today is going to be my first full-on bipolar post – particularly dealing with depression. It had to happen eventually. My good friend Johanna said to me the other day, “If you don’t write about your depression, the blog will have no integrity.” It’s for sure that there’s no way to write with integrity about my experience today without writing about depression. It makes me very squeamish: lots of my co-workers are reading this, lots of customers. But I signed on for this – I promised to write through the lens of someone who lives with bipolar disorder. So let ‘er rip.
It’s been a very hard day. My cruel biochemistry is having its way with me. My core depressive symptom – painful physical contraction – has been very intense. Add on to that a lot of discouraged and sad feelings, and wretched self-talk and you have a recipe for misery. It’s been punishing and unrelenting.
Except not totally unrelenting, if I be completely honest. I have had many little positive experiences. I want to say that none of them has helped, because I keep returning to the same miserable, contracted state. But in fact, in the middle of those positive experiences I have had moments of release.
Several of my friends have come through my line or waved as they moved through the store. None of that shifted my mood – but did my heart not lighten momentarily at the sight of them? My friend Christine came through my line. When I told her I was glad to see her, I meant it. And when, at the end of our encounter, she said that she was happy to see me, I could see in her face that she meant it. That touched my heart. It didn’t matter that moments later my contracted biochemistry asserted itself – that moment still happened.
When Caroline and her husband – my “Stickers for seniors” couple from yesterday’s post – came through my line and she said, “We’ll take the senior discount – and stars”, that made me happy…even if only for that moment.
When – out of the corner of my eye – I saw my friend Jenn in my line, my heart skipped a beat. My heart got happy – that was real, no matter what happened next.
When Caryl and Brian came through my line, we did a little happy dance about Monday’s post where I described her giving me her hat. They loved the post as much as I did. It was a sweet encounter. That can’t be taken away from me.
I have had more lovely experiences in this one day than most people have in a week – or longer. That didn’t have the power to stop my suffering. I could pile on the punishment by blasting myself for not being able to hold on to the good feelings: “Look, you’re such a wreck that you have all these wonderful things happen to you and you waste them.” But I don’t need to go there. The suffering doesn’t need to invalidate the good experiences.
I had moments of joy today. I had moments of love. They didn’t last – but no feelings last. Yeah, these went away really fast and really thoroughly – but that doesn’t make them any less valid. It may make them a little more heartbreaking – to have a taste of joy and then have it snatched away. But still it was real.
I am very fortunate to work in a setting where I get to experience moments of joy, moments of love. The real waste is not to have them go away – that could not be helped. The real waste would be to not be grateful for having them. I may end the day feeling as bad as when I started – the physical contraction, at least, is not likely to have changed. But I will end the day a richer man – a genuinely lucky person.