Surviving the Bipolar Storm
“Sometimes destiny is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine. And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
~ “Kafka on the Shore” by Haruki Murakami
Recently, I’ve been going through a storm. I won’t deny that it was by my own doing that I managed to find myself enduring the stinging sand. I’ll admit, I went off my medication…not a good idea for someone who is bipolar. I honestly thought I had the tools needed to combat the never-ceasing knock of depression. However, I found myself in a most discouraging dilemma. I could continue to force myself to adjust—wait for my brain to balance out even though the crying spells came so frequently or I could go back on my medication and readjust my attitude to the idea of needing the extra boost. I chose the latter and I’m thankful I did. Sleeping during the day is not an option when you’re the mother to three active and needy boys!
I’ll admit I felt like a failure after not being able to pull through the storm. My mom suggested that it’s not a failure if I learned something from it, though. She was right, but what did I learn? Well, first of all telling myself that everything will be alright isn’t enough to cope. Emotional regulation for me is bio-chemical and not just a strength of mentality. Second, it’s not simply thinking of different ways to change the problem or fix the situation. My brain REQUIRES chemical consistency to function properly. Accepting these realizations isn’t easy. Knowing I may be stuck on anti-depressants and anti-psychotics for the rest of my life can itself be depressive. But I must adapt. Acceptance, positive thinking and cognitive restructuring are required. Let’s hope this lesson sticks!