I don't think a day goes by that I don't think about the fact that I am living with a mental illness. Not because I worry about what other people think of me, it's not that at all. It's because I have to constantly be taking the pulse of my mood so that I can manage my illness to the best of my ability. Over the last seven years I've gotten pretty good at it. I like to describe my experience living with bipolar disorder as a scale of one to ten. A simple ten point scale tells so much for someone like me. Think of it this way: 1 = completely depressed, can't get out of bed; 5 = in the middle, balanced (this is what I strive for every day); and 10 = completely manic, need hospital. I won't lie, I like being in the 6-7 range, but when I do have those times when I creep up to the 8's, I start to crumble. I know that when I get to 8, I need to make time for sleep or else I could tip over to 9 or 10 and that would be incredibly awful. Just because I've been there before. And now we have two kids and I would hate for them to see me in a manic state. Just as I would hate for them to see me depressed. But with my version of bipolar disorder, Bipolar I, my moods swing on the higher side of the scale versus the low side.
Nighttime is the hardest. The kids have been asleep for an hour and within that time I've cleaned up the kitchen and (of late) collapsed on the couch in front of my favorite show right now: XFactor. Some nights I am motivated enough to do a workout and then am filled with so much serotonin that it's almost impossible to turn off the endorphins enough to sleep right afterwards.
I'm trying to curb my evening leftover work/facebook surfing/twitter gazing/blog stalking to a minimum so that I can hopefully join the 10pm bedtime club.
When I do climb into bed, I get super jealous of my husband who, within exactly two minutes of us shutting off the lights, is snoring away happily. I'm a different story. My eyes close, my breathing slows down, and I shift around until I get into a comfortable position to try to nod off. Thoughts pop up and a running to-do list keeps flashing before me. I've learned coping mechanisms over the years so now I am able to turn down those things and find sweet sleep. If ever an hour goes by and I am still not asleep, I know that I must pop a sleeping pill to help me get the zzz's that I need.
I've just been thinking lately about how I live with this each and every day, and will for the rest of my life. Nothing I can't handle, just thought my readers might be interested in knowing a little bit about what it feels like.