Dealing with mental illness means being in a daily battle with your own brain. Up until a few months ago when I found out I have a mood disorder I chalked my normally down moods up to personality. I considered myself to me melancholy in the tradition of artists and poets of centuries gone by. Indeed, for me, those early years where I believe my Bipolar Disorder first started coming out (late teenage through early twenties) were my most artistically creative years. I wrote a fair amount of poetry back then, almost none of it shared with anyone, and most of it now lost. I believe this is a fairly common misconception; personality and mood are not the same thing.
Where was I? Oh, yes.
Dealing with mental illness means being in a daily battle with your own brain. In my case, with a depression dominant Bipolar II Disorder, I have to fight to keep any little thing from dragging me down. I’ve always been a bit like Eeyore. On a normal day, things never seem to look up. Days are usually always grey for one reason or another.
But as I have come to learn, I am letting my thoughts control how I feel. Consider the next picture of Eeyore, which contains an exchange with Pooh:
I could very easily see myself thinking that. And if I listen to it, it would be a drag on my mood. If I was already dealing with major depression, it would make the situation far, far worse.
The battle I have to fight is two-fold. I must first not let myself think such things. With my rational side, I know that’s not actually true, regardless of if it feels like it. If I fail to control that kind of thought, I must then struggle not to let it drag my mood down.
I’ve prided myself on being rational, on being logical. I try to make decisions based on those, and not on my emotions. But, I have unwittingly been allowing the irrational and emotional parts of my brain to control too much of my life. I have to learn how not to do that. The medications I am on, both the mood stabilizer and antidepressant, help. They make things easier to handle. They reduce the frequency, severity, and length of mood swings. But it is up to me to stop them before they begin. That is how I will really get control over things.