All right. My last post was over two months ago, and you could be forgiven for thinking from its tone that I was gone.
Totally gone. Dead. Deceased.
It was certainly on my mind. For a period of at least two weeks at the start of November, it was all I could think about, every waking moment. Through my birthday and beyond, I remained catatonic, unable to go to work, unable to play, unable to wash or dress myself or even get out of bed. There came a day that I resolved to leave. I got in my car and drove, blindly into the west. I turned off my phone, disconnected from the world, and made my way out of the state. I found a secluded trail in the Pennsylvania woods. There were tall trees everywhere; construction rope would be easy to find. I was so close; so desperately close.
Balance. It’s such a delicate thing.
I came closer than I have ever been to ending my life; to destroying what I’ve spend so many years painfully, unwillingly, sluggishly building up. My world didn’t matter. My family didn’t matter. My own son no longer mattered.
They would all be better without my burden. And so would I. I still believe this. But I now have, after so long, accepted something that I should have understood many, many years ago.
I need my medication.
I went off my meds, and I nearly killed myself. Only through intervention on my the part of my beloved wife and my caring parents (I’m very reluctantly admitting this last bit) did I survive. And this time, things are going to be different.
Every one of you who’s familiar with the devastating cycle of bipolar disorder is probably smiling bemusedly at my naïvety here. But I genuinely want to believe it’s true. I don’t ever want to go back to where I was last month. I can’t afford to, for my own and my family’s sake. I nearly died, and even if I hadn’t, I nearly destroyed the relationship with my wife.
I’ve been on my medications now for almost a month. The aripiprazole kicked in first, and dragged me kicking and screaming from the darkness. The lamotrigine and bupropion have sidled their way more stealthily into my system, and together they’ve brought my brain back into balance.
Balance. It’s such a delicate thing. I’m astonished that, for so many people, their bodies can manage this on their own. I’ve come to accept that mine can’t; it most likely never will. I can’t—ever—go off my medications again.
Now of course, comes the hypomanic phase (I’m fortunate enough, at least, to have bipolar II—I don’t engage in compulsive, high-risk behavior). I feel great. I feel full of energy, ready to take on the world, ready to dive back into life. I’m racing at work, doing the dishes at home, being nice to my wife even when she’s upset at me (mostly—I did snap once the other day). I want to write, I want to run, I want to work out and stay awake. I know this can’t last—I can’t believe it could. I don’t think this is how other people are every day. But I know that I won’t fall back into the pit again, or at least not quite so hard, so long as I stay on the meds.
All of you in this dreadful, awful place, repeat after me: I must stay on my meds. I must stay on my meds. I must stay on my meds.
And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be okay.
Featured image taken from http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/copingwithdepression/2012/02/new-meds-can-make-depression-worse-before-it-gets-better/pills-2/.