On the Playground of Bipolar Disorder, The Swings are Your only Choice.

Imagine going to a playground and all of the equipment is broken except for the swings. That’s it. You don’t even get the monkey bars. You solemnly walked to the swings, like a person condemned to hang in front of a crowd. As you sit down, knowing full well you can only swing to and fro, you prepare yourself the ride, PRAYING that no one decides to come and gives you a push. That is bipolar disorder. Another analogy could be a rollercoaster, but since I avoid those at amusement parks, I’m going to stick to the swings. Also, the long lines are a bitch.

Sometimes the swing upward can be fun and you get a rush of excitement: Maybe you will swing over the bar and everything will be ok from now on!! Other times, in the air, you’re petrified of coming back down. You know you’re going to have to push even harder with your legs to get back to that high point, but you’re tired and just want to get off for a break in the action. The backward descent can be just as unnerving as the forward climb. Backwards, or even stagnant, is safe. You understand that world better than the one in the sky. It’s comforting to know that you don’t have to be up there anymore but also saddening because you have to start all over.

Bipolar Disorder comes with its good days and bad days. Sometimes you’re aware of them and other times they catch you off guard until someone close to you points it out. Or when you check your bank account and that paycheck you had is down to $20 and you have a bunch of useless shit that seemed so important at the time. If you don’t have a good support system BPD can also be a wild ride of bad choices: drugs, drinking, sex with people that don’t care about you, and you don’t really care about them, but you get attached because of the feeling you’re missing inside.

The good days can sometimes be normal and you finally feel like even keel. Life is easy and things don’t get to you as badly as they usually would. You feel like the BPD is gone. Other good days you’re more social, you’re more active, your need for sleep becomes a thing of the past, and when you get an idea in your head it becomes the end all be all. Those days aren’t normal. You feel amazing but those are the days that bad things can happen. You’re impulsive and aren’t thinking clearly.

The bad days are just that: BAD. Everything irritates you, everything makes you sad, you feel lonely and isolated (yes, this does happen even if you’re married), that idea you had doesn’t seem so important and you’ve lost interest, and suddenly your bed/ sofa are the best friends you’ve always been looking for. Your furniture doesn’t care that you haven’t moved in 5 hours, it doesn’t mind that you haven’t showered in almost a week, and most of all, it’s comfortable and you don’t have to make an effort to talk to anyone.

Having a support system, besides seeing a doctor and taking medication, is the best thing you can have in your arsenal. It deserves a place in your front pocket. They begin to understand when things are going a little off kilter, comforting you becomes easier over time once they figure out the right language to use to make it better for you, they give you solid advice and solutions–you may not listen at the time, but they do matter, and the best thing is that even though may not realize it in the moment, they love you no matter what.

  • It should be noted, however, that is a little harder when it comes to your friends rather than your loved ones. At least it has been for me anyways. Your friends want to understand what you’re going through (sometimes) but you aren’t around them 24/7 so they aren’t super familiar with when you’re starting to seem a little…well…crazy. I have found, in the recent months, that true friends understand better when you are honest and upfront with them. Let them see your good days, let them see your bad days: it’s their decision after that if they want to stay or not. You have to be prepared for that. Some friends, in my experience, don’t stay. Though it may hurt, you will be better off in the long run of life. Luckily the ladies that I have become closer with decided to stay and accept me for who I am.

It took me a long time to come these conclusions, it certainly didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it took me 5 years and a really bad break up to wise up and get help. I am so glad that I did. It is a series of trial and error with both doctors and medicines. You’re a guinea pig until they find what works for you, but you have to be honest about every little thing that is going on when you’re taking these prescriptions. It took 3 years to finally get my medicine right and my weight down, but my dosage went up. I’m feeling better than I have in years. I’m working with a great team of doctors who don’t make feel like a lab rat. I’m not saying that I don’t get bad days or manic good days anymore, but they are becoming more spaced out than before; I was swinging back and forth on a daily basis that it even gave me whiplash. I spent hours being depressed to only go back to being happy a few hours later. I would be irritated with even the simplest of questions but then be easy going later on and completely forget that I had snapped at James for merely asking me where the remote was. Now the cycles are slowing down and I can almost sense when they’re coming back. James is prepared on every front and is the best at picking up on the signs that a storm is coming. He is always there with a hug, he gives me space if I need it, and he never forgets to remind me that I have beaten this before and I can do it again.

You may get tired of being on a swing set. You may get jealous that everyone can use the other playground equipment except for you. You may want to get off the swing set and never go to the playground again. I understand that completely and have felt that way many times. You just have to keep swinging.  It doesn’t get any easier but you become stronger.

You have beaten this before and you can beat it again.


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