Being Normal

9 June 2000 – Diary
Woke up today feeling calm again. The difference between feeling depressed and feeling normal is very pronounced just after waking up. If I am depressed, regardless of how much sleep I actually got, I feel as if I still need to sleep. At the moment and feeling normal, I merely feel as if I had restful sleep.

Yesterday continued to be reasonably productive and calm at the same time. There is still a sensation of slowness that I am having difficulty coping with. I keep on feeling as if I am dawdling in getting my work done but when I actually check back I realise I’m doing pretty well.

I suspect that this is a reaction to my hypomania. I have gotten so used to being productive only when I am hypomanic that I associate being productive with hypomania. As a result I feel that if I am not excited and brimming with thousands of ideas and moving around getting things done (well, moving around) I can’t possibly be doing anything useful.

But I have gotten one of my three projects started. So there. The first implementation is a bit of a rough draft and the details need to be ironed out, but it has started. Which is more than I have ever been able to do before. With hypomania, I would have wanted it to be perfect before I started and I would have been kept back by what people would have thought if it wasn’t perfect.

Now, I am not fussing. It’ll take a few days to iron out. I can live with that and more importantly I don’t feel as if everyone is judging me as a failure at the moment.

Perhaps being normal isn’t so bad after all.

I’m also realising that I have the wrong reactions to cope with being normal. The adaptations and accommodations of being bipolar for the last fifteen years of my life have not left me with mechanisms for being normal. An image that springs to mind is like being in a cage where I am alternately prevented from opening the gate by electrical shocks or prodded from behind to open the gate and get out to do things.

Now the prods and the shocks are gone. There is me and the cage and the gate and the outside. I want to be outside but I still remember and am afraid of the electrical shocks and I have nothing to prod me. So how do I open the gate and get outside.

I only have to do it. Nothing stops me. Except the fact that I have no experience in opening the gate on my own. So here I sit and there are the things I want to do outside. And this innocuous gate which has no power over me anymore but which blocks me almost as effectively as it ever has.

It’s no wonder I equate normal with depressed.

It is taking quite an effort to learn to get things done without being driven by hypomania / depression combination. I have gotten so used to having the hypomania driving me that I make no effort to do things “on my own.” I just surf on the hypomania wave. Conversely, I am so used to being unable to do anything when I am not hypomanic (i.e. depressed) that I don’t really try anymore.

Right now, I have no hypomanic impulse. As a result I have to originate all the things I want to do without the support of the energy I’ve grown used to having over the years. It’s not as easy to do so, particularly since I associate the lack of energy with depression and would assume that I would not be able to complete the task anyway. Basically to get something done I have to overcome two barriers, one to start the task and one to believe that I would finish the task.

The Nike ad says “Just do it.”
They just don’t tell you how complicated that could get.

Still, I’m getting better at doing it. How’s that for a bumper sticker –
Bipolars do it up and down (but never normal)

12 June 2000 – Diary
Well, I’m still in my normal phase. I’m still a little scared of believing that this may last more than a week or so. But I am hoping it will.

It is still pretty difficult for me to just do things. Anything. This morning I was in the bathroom and my dental floss box fell to the ground. I looked at it and thought “Oh, my dental floss fell.” It then took a completely separate thought to think “I should pick it up.” And it happened a few seconds later.

To me the separation of something simple happening and an appropriate reaction is a sign of depression. I assume that normal people wouldn’t have to think about it – they would just pick up the dental floss box. The reason I knew I wasn’t depressed is that I was able to pick up the box – if I was depressed, it would have just lay on the ground all day. Or perhaps the next few days.

So I’m better than depressed, but still not doing as well as I would like. Although I can do just about anything I want, it is taking an effort to do them. Even the simplest of things. Interestingly, it takes about the same amount of effort to do the simple things like pick up the dental floss as it does to do the difficult things like organise tomorrow’s schedule for my company’s client representatives. Clearly, it isn’t the task that is the problem, but the ability to focus and organise my thoughts to do the task.

Which brings me to my pet peeve. I still think that bipolar disorder affects functionality, not mood. It shouldn’t be called a mood disorder. I also think that bipolar persons are using the words dealing with emotions to describe something quite different than what those words mean to a “normal” person (or even to the everyday meanings that bipolar persons use them). I know that when I say I am depressed, I mean something quite different than when I use the word depressed in a conversation in the “standard” sense of the word.

Until we get more precise words, bipolar persons are going to be painting a picture to others that is quite misleading because our listeners don’t understand what we mean by the words we are using.

I’m also having the most difficult time getting my schedule back on track. After four weeks of trying and not succeeding in waking up, and getting dressed and to work on time – I am usually about 40 minutes late – I have given over the task to C.. This morning was the first day C. was in charge. So far it has been a fiasco. C. had sinus trouble and reached to work even later than me, even though I was late as usual.

What exactly do you do when your support is no support?

I’m trying hugs and kisses and decongestant at the moment.

You can’t succeed at everything every day. Today still went pretty well and I am still feeling pretty stable. I’ll give thanks for the successes that I had.

And in any case, tomorrow is another day.

14 June 2000 – Diary
Still normal and cautiously optimistic. I’m hoping that this is it, that this may be the watershed that I have been hoping for.

I of course realise that I am going to fail and that some time in the future my life will be as chaotic as it was in March and April. But I still can’t stop hoping that this time is it. Or at least that this time my life will be stable for more than two or three weeks. Is that too much to hope for? I’ll give a lot in exchange for being stable for three or four months.

I think of all the things I could do. I think of the fact that I could be quietly peaceful and happy for three or four months. I think of not having to worry about what each day might bring.

It won’t be perfect, but it will be a substantial improvement over what I have now.

Three or four months.

It’ll be like having a piece of paradise.

Ok. So much for dreaming. I’m off to sort out some little matters such as I haven’t yet paid my mortgage or car loan for May. Or electricity or water bill. I’m glad I have an accountant who looks after my taxes or the government would be after me too. Sigh.

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