I’m anxious and have been for a few days now. Six days into the new year and already I find myself overwhelmed. I am scared about what may come and what I need to to do keep myself afloat. The objective is not just to survive, it is to try and thrive and ultimately move forward. There is no room for another relapse – an extended period of time where I can only take on very little and walk alongside the edge of a cliff – metaphorically speaking – in fear of falling off and sustaining semi or permanent damage. The questions that surround certain challenges are becoming muddled in my mind. Will I have to find somewhere else to live? (my lease is about to expire and I have no word as to whether it will be extended as yet). Will I make it through my studies? (I have commence a BA in Psychology and doing two subjects per semester. It will be during late 2015 when I complete my studies, at that pace and I will be 38 by then. The age factor doesn’t overly bother me though). Will I have enough money to survive? (I am on Disability and the little savings I do have is slowly starting to dwindle). In identifying a need to go back to work which has potential benefits aside from money such as self esteem and a sense of contribution, will I be able to absorb the stress and anxiety that Bipolar can serve up. Life is full of stress but those of us who fall in the hyper-sensitive category can receive a BIG “Fuck You!” from Bipolar, when this stress becomes even remotely toxic? This is what I am most anxious about. Buckling under the stress and experiencing a relapse. My history is riddled with these events and after my last breakdown in early 2011, I swore never to go down that path again. And yet, here I am at the beginning of 2013, inviting stress back into my life with the risk of it all becoming too much again. Study aside, given that my motivation is mostly financial, it is a ‘suck it up and see’ scenario, however I do need to be mindful of the things that may put me in troubled waters and potentially cause another relapse.
I mentioned the financial motivation that is driving me at the present time. The much bigger driving force is the opportunity to have a better life despite having a chronic mood disorder. We all want a better life. There is no doubt about that. The sacrifices we must make in order to further this pursuit need to be weighed and measured. I found out during 2012 that despite all that’s happened with bipolar and the stop-start nature that makes up most of my adult life thus far, 35 years of age is far too early in the piece to throw in the towel and say “I’m done!”. Time out is fine, whether that equals weeks, months or even years, despite the pain and heartache these disruptions in life can yield. I have heard that the severity of these breakdowns get worse as we age. Physiologically that may be the case, however there is wisdom acquired that in my opinion, leaves you in a much better place to handle future challenges. The lessons that we must learn to gain this wisdom are harsh, no question there. But you do learn more about yourself and depending on what stage of life you are at, whether you’re in early or middle adulthood, you learn and come to know what works and what doesn’t work for you. That’s the most important thing. Especially when life is further complicated by mental illness. Knowing what your limits are and carrying yourself with these limits in mind. But is there scope to push the boundaries and challenge oneself to rise above the adversity of having a mental illness? Absolutely! However in doing so, especially with something as complex as a mood disorder, past trial and error needs to be taken into consideration.
Ignore excess stress at your peril.
I have recently met somebody who I really like and these feelings go both ways. If you have read any of my previous posts, you will have a gotten a sense of how lonely and isolated I have been in the past twelve months. I am agnostic at best, but I prayed for someone to come into my life and my prayers have now been answered. But this is no walk into the sunset and roll the credits type of scenario. It’s scary, but it beats feeling completely alone. There is someone out there that likes me just the way I am and cares about me – and vice versa. There is no facade and everything has been put on the table including Bipolar. I am scared though that I will eventually stuff it all up. This is another reason why my illness cannot majorly interfere, however, open communication will be crucial with the realization that ongoing symptoms are a reality.
So here we are. A new year is barely under way and already there are challenges that await. My life is different. My mindset is different. Yet there is an underlying fear and lack of confidence that positive change may not be sustainable. I like the term ‘it’s a marathon – not a sprint’. Despite the fear, despite the anxiety, each day needs to be a small step in the right direction. There needs to be time for rest and time to switch off with the knowledge and faith that things are moving forward at a comfortable pace.