Surviving Vs Living 

Posted: March 12, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

There is a fine, but clear line between surviving and actually living, I have come to realize over the past few weeks. Survival is mandatory, and although it’s been a struggle at times, I have perfected the art recently. Part of this is due to my new philosophy on how to deal with the periods of depression and mania. 

To begin with, I have accepted the fact that these episodes ARE going to happen, whether I like them or not, whether it’s a good time or the worse possible time, or whether I have the time to deal with them. These episodes don’t care if I have to work all  week, if my kids are sick, if my fathers dementia is acting up, or if I was already under a lot of stress. In fact, I think they prefer times when my world is already being shaken and stirred.  

That may sound like the simplest thing in the world- accepting they are going to happen- but for a long time acceptance was not a part of my bipolar routine. I dreaded the phases of depression, panicked at the slightest sign of manic phase approaching (not sleeping, hyperness, rapid thoughts) and the premonition of a high or low phase was always at the forefront of my mind. Eventually I learned that there was no way in preventing these phases, nothing I could do to stop them, and therefore the only thing I could do was accept them. 

So I accepted them. Step one complete. They were coming on a regular basis, ready or not, and the only possible thing I could do about it was learn to live with them and this is where my new philosophy was born. In order to survive them I had to accept they were going to happen, let them have that moment, day, week, and once they had passed, let it go and move on. With each episode (mainly the depression) I would mentally coach myself. 

“Okay, here we go. We are without a doubt very depressed. Okay Mr.Depression (it has to be a mister- what else could drive you this crazy!) your here. Do what you have to do and get it over with” 

Day 1 passes as he hangs over me like a dark cloud as I hide underneath the heavy covers on my bed. I let him hover there, knowing eventually the cloud will break open and the rain will pour down over me.  

Day 2 is much of the same as I wait for the clouds above to part and for the storm to begin, which it does the very next day and the warmth and comfort of my bed protects me, shields me from the cold.

The storm lasts for a few more days. It brings with it tears and fear. Bad memories fall on me like cold, heavy raindrops; the inner demons yelling as loud as the booming thunder; thoughts of despair and desperation flashes in my subconscious like the bright lighting across the sky. 

And at last, the storm is over. The clouds have moved on in the distance, the pounding rain subsides and the sun begins to shine. I can feel the physical relief. I can breathe easier, my chest feels lighter and I have a new bounce in my step. 

The phase is over. Mentally I push it aside, step away from it, and move on. And this is how I have learned to survive, become a master at it actually. But although for quite some time I have been surviving splendidly, I am not actually living

Sure I get by day to day. I cope with the mood swings, the short temper, the highs and lows. I manage not to lash out at those around me, to not say things I will later regret, to be considerate of others regardless of what mood I happen to be in. I’ve mastered surviving phases, am well medicated, carry on a daily routine, and have managed not to rack up my credit card on a manic spending spree, push anyone out of my life, make any drastic life decisions, or make a complete fool of myself. 

I have managed to survive wonderfully. What I have not done, however, is learn how to live a normal, functioning life with this disorder that threatens to rob me of my sanity.

And I want to live. I want to stand on my own 2 feet again, to not require constant company around me. I want to feel beautiful again; to feel like a woman and not just the unkept shell of a person I use to be. I want to laugh again, to dance again, to be with my friends and have a good time. I want to get back on the horse, to dip my toes back into the dating pool. I want to work, to become the independent woman I once was, once again. I want to be the happy mom, the best friend and sister, the doting daughter, the cool aunt- all of the things I once was. I want to begin again after the end of my marriage, the end of the only life I had known. I want, more than anything in the world, like I have never wanted anything in my entire life, to live again. I need it in fact. 

But how do you learn to live again when you have barely exisited, merely surviving for so very long? 

  1. bipolarwhisper says:

    I was reading this and the entire time I was reading it I was nodding my head in understanding. I feel that way so much. I have spent 3/4 of my life surviving but not knowing how to live. Not even understanding where to start to begin living. Survival is, as you have said, mandatory. Living and enjoying my life, not so much. I try very hard on a day to day basis to be balanced, but I am not, much of the time the balance is lost. I am not a tight rope walker (idea for next blog post in that sentence lol), but I feel like that was the life I was given, to walk the line.


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