Today is ALWAYS the First Day of the Rest of My Life

11 May 2000 – Diary
It is hard to keep starting over. It’s ok the first few times. But after the fourth or fifth time, the question really becomes “Why bother?”. I’m only going to have to do it again. If not next week, then perhaps in six months. But it is inevitable.

I keep on going because I have no choice. You either live life or you don’t. But it is hard. Today I posted a note on my desk – “Today is ALWAYS the first day of the rest of my life.” It’s reminder that I can start afresh each day. Or perhaps that I have to start afresh each day.

To survive being bipolar I have to live only on what today and the future offers. If I look back, all I see are the failed efforts, the broken promises, the unfinished tasks. They are overwhelming, especially since I can’t really say I’ll turn over a new leaf and start over. After all, I’ll have to turn over a new leaf next month anyway.

Of course if I remember that I can’t change the past anyway, whether it was good or bad, then I can focus on the days to come. Yesterday I may have made a hash of things, but I get to choose if I let that overwhelm today. And I choose not to. I’m trying not to look back too much or else I’ll feel like a failure. Just sneaking glances back so I can figure out how to follow up.

And then onward today.

15 May 2000 – Diary
Trying to settle back into my old routine. Doing reasonable. However I am falling into the trap of thinking that this time everything will work, this time I will settle down properly.

It’s simply not going to happen that way.

However, the fact that I am going to eventually lose this battle need not be grounds for giving up now. It’s not whether I win this battle that matters, it’s how I fight it. So I chose to do my best. I know the things that work best to keep me stable so I can use those stay in the battle longer. And fighting is no exertion really, it’s just doing the things I want to do anyway. I’ll try my hardest to keep doing them.

See. That’s all I need to do. So when I eventually fail I can look back and say I did good that time.

I’m realising that having to start over has an up side. Each time I have to figure out what I want to do next. Which means I get to frequently redefine, and refine, my goals. Most people are too busy living day to day to actually do that. I’m forced to do so every few months. If I get good at refining my goals, the benefits I incur might actually offset some of the downtime due to depression.

30 May 2000 – Diary
Got a tattoo done last night. Nothing like being under the needles for a few hours to focus one’s thinking. The pain cleared my head marvellously and I actually feel much better than I had since February. I’ve finally been able to reorganise my schedule and start back getting my house in order. And I’m actually able to think again.

Just for the record. The tattoo is not a hypomanic whim. I hate it when people say that I do things because I am hypomanic. In hindsight, it turns out that the things that I do when hypomanic or depressed actually fall within a narrow band. I just do the same silly things over and over each time I destabilise, almost to the point where I can say which things are an effect of my hypomania or depression.

The rest is just me. If people think I’m a bit odd, perhaps its because I walk to the beat of a different drummer.

And I’ve started back up my diary. Finally.

31 May 2000 – Diary
Put up a sign on my fridge yesterday on the things to do daily on mornings and evenings. This morning I got about half the things I posted on the list done. Better than none at all like last week. Hopefully as the days go by I’ll get more and more organised. I hope.

I’m starting to feel a bit better at work. Sometimes I wonder if I add value at work. Often I feel as I am dead weight there, but today I felt as if I accomplished some things that no one else would have been able to do better. Nothing major mind you, but still feeling good about little things is better than feeling worthless.

7 June 2000 – Diary
For the last two weeks I have been in a slightly odd mood, as if I am wavering between being manic and being depressive. I’d get a few of the symptoms of being manic and I’d figure that I’m entering my manic stage. But I wouldn’t and then a day or two later I’d get a few symptoms of being depressed and say “Right, I’m becoming depressed.” But the depression doesn’t quite set in either.

It only dawned upon me today that I might be in an extended stage of being “normal.”

It feels weird.

You know those movies in which our hero stands on a log in the middle of a river trying to keep balance. First the poor sod runs like crazy in one direction as the log spins below, and then arms flailing, (s)he runs backward trying to keep balance as the log reverses direction. And even when panting and somewhat at rest there is always the feeling that they are going to fall in the river the next instant.

Well, I’m feeling a bit like that.

But I only feel like that. Objectively, the last two weeks have been quite good to me. Some of the cobwebs in my head cleared last week, which to me is a signal that depression is lifting. And I have been getting some of the tasks that I want done. The work is going slower than I would like and doesn’t have the ease and clarity that I associate with being productive, but that may just mean that I haven’t been hypomanic.

If I stay this way, three projects I have wanted to do since last September will be completed in the next six to eight weeks. This is slower than the one week each my time schedule says it should take, but still, I’ve been trying to get them done since last September and I only started them yesterday.

With my two week up / down cycle, a one or two week project was pretty much impossible. In the past I could only do things which took 2-3 days. Longer term projects usually failed.

So I’m going slower and steadier. There are some good points. My anxiety level has dropped to something manageable so I don’t feel as bad taking an hour off to go pay late bills. I am not as driven as before, so I can relax a bit more at work. Coupled with the lack of anxiety of work not being done, the workplace is much friendlier now.

I am also not as prone to feel that comments directed to me are meant as all out attacks against me. This has been having a twofold effect – I can now stand my own in an argument without flinching, which was impossible in the past, and I can now not feel obligated to do things for others. I can really say no and mean it.

I don’t mean that my life has changed overnight. It’s still pretty much a mess. But it is a mess that I figure I can cope with. In my depressed periods it would be overwhelming and in my hypomanic periods it would be a smaller but anxiety ridden mess. There is much to be said for peacefulness.

I wonder if that’s how normal is supposed to feel – still crazy and messy in terms of details and tasks and projects, but more peaceful in terms of anxiety and guilt and fear and tension.

Of course I don’t know if my current status is stable. I might well swing into hypomania in a few days time. I don’t know and I am still getting the occasional signals for either depression or mania. Of course these signals could be what happens to normal people too, but because I have spent three years of living as a manic depressive I may just be describing them in bipolar terms.

There is a certain irony here. I have often said that normal people cannot understand what being bipolar is like partially because the vocabulary used to describe being bipolar is wrong. Now I am describing being normal from a bipolar point of view and using my bipolar terminology and it is surely going to sound weird to a normal person (but make perfect sense to a bipolar person). It’s a bit like a blind person describing an elephant – the description will be accurate, but it wouldn’t be a description any sighted person would give.

It also makes me wonder if I am feeling “normal.” If I don’t know what it is, how can I know if I am. There you are. Bipolar persons are natural existentialists.

And there is an underlying problem which is going to be much harder to sort out. How I am feeling is comfortable and secure. It’s a nice feeling. But I don’t like it as much as being hypomanic.

I suppose I could learn to live this way, but I would always think that I have lost out somewhere. Life isn’t as fun anymore.

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