May 22, 2006
How Manic Depression Effects My Life:
Beyond the already known aspects of having Manic-Depression (BiPolar II) — the crushing and debilitating suicide-black depressions ranging in duration from a day to weeks to months, occasionally interrupted by a few moments of lucidity and then again by short period of extreme and dangerous highs where I might spend a months salary or welfare cheque in a matter of hours and later have no recollection of my purchases or where I might put myself or others at risk of injury — there are a few other pieces of this disease, mostly side-effects to the symptoms, I consider debilitating enough to bring to your attention.
The primary one, and the one which most affects my work and social life, is my sleep-wake cycle. When I am ‘high’ I do not sleep (36-48hours at times), and when depressed I cannot wake up, or cannot leave my bed. I have missed countless days of work and have lost many jobs through either not being able to get out of bed, or recovering from a constant 24-50hour wake-cycle. After a month of this constant change in my sleeping patterns it can be next to impossible for me, during a lucid week, to get into a natural rhythm of sleep.
My ability to create and sustain relationships: Along with the job opportunities, I have also lost a great many friends and lovers because of this disease. The erratic behaviour, the wild mood swings over a course of an evening, isolating myself for days and weeks at a time due to depressions, and the sometimes frightening manic periods of frenetic and constant activity. My inability to motivate myself to the most basic tasks, shaving, laundry and the like has led to situations where I am dressed almost as a street person while attending upscale functions either as a guest or as a reporter. As well there is my inability, during prolonged depressive periods, to attain even the most basic level of support. A trip to the welfare office is something that would take a week at least to plan. A walk to the corner store would take a days worth of preparation. What chance would a dating relationship stand when her boyfriend is too debilitated with depression to: a) find an income; b) leave his bed; c) speak; or, d) dress himself?
Then there’s the ‘guilt cycle’. Every time I do harm to a friend, or family member, the guilt overwhelms me and usually leads to either a deeper depression episode or to my having to exclude them from my life so I’m not reminded. It just becomes too painful. I have almost bankrupted my parents; frightened my younger brother with midnight suicide calls; abandoned girlfriends, and the guilt from each incident is replayed in my head constantly. I have spent many, many periods when I should be sleeping, awake replaying each episode, trying to change the outcome.
In the end what it comes down to is over the past fifteen years I have been unable to work or attend school for close to ten. Over the past three years I have not been able to work to any degree (including writing, which is my primary profession) and until very recently had been suicidal on an almost daily basis for twenty-one consecutive months. My entire adult life has been spent living with this disease, I have been crippled by it emotionally and even, in some aspects, physically. I, with my family and the input of my doctors, have decided this application to be the best way for me to finally get better.