i have had an extraordinarily difficult week. the worst week i’ve had in the last three years of recovery.
last thursday i received a new diagnosis: bipolar II, ptsd and generalized anxiety disorder. over the last few months i have cycled through a range of symptoms that are more indicative of bipolar/ptsd than major depression. it’s hard for me to write this because i am still processing. i agree with the diagnosis, i understand it but i am still processing.
the more i have learned about mental illness the more i have suspected that i may have some form of bipolar disorder. the cyclical nature of my depression, the up-high highs and the down-low lows, the excessive energy, at times feeling driven by a motor, the shopping issues. but this is the first time i have been diagnosed. and while i am already taking a medication for bipolar disorder this news means a possible medication change. which scares me so much more than what my illness is called. med changes have been historically difficult for me, and at times completely destabilizing.
i’m on the edge. i’m trying to hold on. to rational thinking. to feeling safe. to believing in my recovery and in myself. because my mind is traveling a million miles ahead of me right now, living in the worst case scenario. i feel like every thought begins with what if. what if i have to change my medication? what if it doesn’t work? what if i lose everything i’ve worked so hard for?
what if i get sick again?
i’ve been in enough treatment to understand cognitive distortions, and right now i think i’m experiencing all of them. i am one big anxious knot of black and white, time travel, all or nothing, catastrophic thinking. and underlying my panicky thoughts is a deep-down fear that i can’t do it again. if the worst happened, if i did get really sick, i feel like i don’t have it in me to get through another recovery. i’m exhausted. i have poured literally everything i have into getting better and i feel like i can’t try any more. why does it feel like the mental health rug is constantly being pulled out from under me? am i cursed? how many times do i have to start over?
so i have developed a mantra. and when i start going down the rabbit hole i will say it. out loud. several times. because i have to talk back. i have to pick myself up. in this present moment i can focus on who i am and how far i have come – not how far i have to go. i can’t control everything but right now i can do my best to acknowledge the fear and then reconnect with some opposite truths. i am not re-living getting sick again – it feels similar but it is not the same. this is just life with mental illness. this is a bump in the road of recovery.
you don’t have to try
you don’t have to change
you don’t have to be a better version of yourself
because who you are in this present moment
is enough to meet this challenge
you have the tools
you have the support
and you have the strength
to get through today
and the next day after that
you’ve come too far
to give up now