The Day-To-Day Indignity Of Manic Depression

“Caring for yourself, looking after your physical health, just isn’t a priority for someone who constantly wants to die.”
— ‘When You Spend 6570 Consecutive Days Wanting To Kill Yourself The Little Things Get Neglected… Like Dental Hygiene’: June 13, 2007; by Gabriel…

“We need to be able to find small victories, little moments we can lose ourselves in so we can fight against the voice in our head telling us what a huge fucking failure we’ve become because we couldn’t stop failing over the years and decades which make up our lives.”
— ‘When Relying On Small Victories To Move Through Depression There’s A Very Real Risk The Small Defeats Will Carry Us Under’: January 7, 2008; by Gabriel…

I get exhausted doing the day-to-day things everyone else in my life seems to do without thinking.

The mundane becomes overwhelming. The trivialities of everyday life become exhausting, so that even attempting the little things become too difficult knowing how drained I’m going to be. Basically we get hit so many times with failure that we flinch at the thought of doing something trivial, until the basic essentials of everyday life become mountains to overcome.

We get so engulfed in the double edged sword of bipolar disease — the near constant of depressions and the extreme highs become such a burden on our lives, that our ability to do the routine stuff gets lost.

…like staying awake. Or keeping appointments. Or changing the bed. Or showering.

I think it gets even worse when someone with Bipolar or Chronic Depression is on Disability, or living alone, because there really is no reason to get clean. There’s no reason not to sleep. There’s no reason to get the laundry done or the dishes clean. There’s no structure to the day except that which we are trained to do as children, and that training got overwhelmed by the Depressions and the Manics.

And I’ve been mostly on my own for the past four-years.

Which might explain why I don’t shower with any regularity any more. I had one a few days ago because I had an appointment for my feet, but that was the first one since my last Doctor’s appointment three weeks ago.

I’m at the point where if it wasn’t for those appointments… I don’t know. When I was untreated, I’d also go weeks without showering.

During the last two years of high school I was chronically depressed because of the manic depression. I was missing half of my classes, I was drinking heavily on weekends, and I stopped showering regularly. I would wash my hair twice a week but leave my body rotting for weeks at a time. My nickname was Sloth… but I didn’t know that until years later when a friend I hadn’t seen in years apologized for how he treated me. It was because I was physically slow and reeked most of the time.

Things got a little better in the years afterwards, when I started working, and I was dating regularly, but the behaviours ingrained on me by the Depressions were just too strong. By the time the moments of lucidity came around, when the manics and depressions were taking a break, the size and amount of the chores left to me were just too much to deal with. So even if I was able to wash myself, dishes were left to the mould, and the mounds of clothes remained unwashed.

Over the past four years things have reverted back to how they were in high school. I just don’t know why I don’t shower more. I’ve never talked to my therapist or psychiatrist about it. Again, I don’t know why. Shame, probably. I just can’t find a reason to get clean.

It has reached the point where my kids are making comments — I do make sure they’re showered every night — so I know others must be noticing.

I just don’t know how to fix it. I’ll tell myself that “today’s the day”, or tonight is the night, or I’ll get up extra early, or I’ll do it before bed… but I sleep in, or I’m too tired at night, or I just forget until I’m half asleep and I can’t be bothered to get up and get it done.

Basically I tell myself I’ll do it when I’m not so tired, but I’m tired all the time.

…there are just too many things in my life I’m dealing with by not dealing with them.

I have to work on not being tired, that’s one. I have to clear this mental block I have that prevents me from wanting to get clean, that’s two… I’m not sure what three is. There really should be a third thing. And probably ten more, but I’m tired.

Basically my life right now is: get up; feed the kids; make sure they get to school somewhat on time; take my pills; go back to bed for four or five hours; get up again; get the kids some supper; pick up the kids from school; keep them entertained until bedtime; watch the news; take my pills, and; back to sleep.

I read something recently that basically said “the first 95% is the easy part, it’s the last 5% that’s the most work”. Or something. Maybe it was “95% of the work is the last 5% of the job”. That sounds right. I’ve managed, with a LOT of effort to get the bipolar under control… for the most part. But it’s the last pieces, the last of the bipolar behaviours, that I need to fix while maintaining that control.

About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression when I was nineteen, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. It's now 2022, and I have an 8-year old son, and a 12-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Depression, Health, Living With Depression, Manic Depression, Mental Health and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The Day-To-Day Indignity Of Manic Depression

  1. Melanie Muller says:

    My beautiful Jessica was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. The last 3 years have been a fight to keep the eating disorder that tagged along under control and keep her at a stable weight. It’s my main concern at this time. When she was 16 her average daily heart rate had dropped to 45 bpm and I was terrified she would die in her sleep. She is going through exactly what you describe in this post. Sleeping all day. Not showering for who knows how long. And her apartment should probably be checked by a hazmat team. Would love to hear any updates or advice you might have.
    And as always, don’t forget what you have accomplished! You have some amazing boys there and have been fighting to maintain some kind if normalcy since, well, forever. The fact that you keep going shows you’re not a failure. You’re an amazing person, have a wonderful mind and a huge heart and will always be a winner to me. ❤️

    • Gabriel... says:

      Regarding the apartment, it might be an idea to sit down with her and let her know you’re willing to have someone come in once a week, or at least a few times a month, to clean up — someone to do the dishes and clean the floors, and maybe do some laundry for her. If she doesn’t have a washer-dryer, maybe make it a playdate and have her over to do it at your place, or take her to the laundromat. Just make it a regular thing. And maybe don’t give her a choice in the matter…

      With the sleeping… people with BPD are more likely to have extreme sleep disturbances. Meaning they can’t sleep at night, so their pattern gets all fucked up. This generally means they’re sleeping all day to make up for the lack of sleep at night. Medications can help, I take pills at night to help me sleep through the night. I take a mild dose of Seroquel just to shut off the noise in my head, but sometimes I’ll take something stronger (Latuda or Zoplicone) when things are a little out of control.

      …sleep is a vicious circle… the disease won’t let you sleep, and the lack of sleep feeds the disease. The only way to stop the cycle is to really hit it with a sledgehammer. She has to be brutal with herself. I’m not a Doctor, but in my opinion, if she’s not taking them already, she needs to be taking meds to get the sleep under control. Or, if she is on them and they’re not working, she needs to have them adjusted. Personally, I’d recommend the Zoplicone. It’s specifically for insomnia, and it’s non-addictive.

      Thanks for commenting, Melanie, and thanks for making me feel human. You’ve always been good at that.

    • fishrobber says:

      @Melanie … I would love it if you could click through to my blog and contact me. I’m going through the same thing with my adult daughter. She has bipolar, maybe autism, sleep disorder, eating disorder, and has problems with executive dysfunction. She swears she wants to shower and clean her room, but she just can’t do it.

  2. SusanR says:

    Raising two boys is a huge, exhausting, neverending job for anyone. Kudos for doing what many adults can’t or won’t do.

    • Gabriel... says:

      Thanks Susan. You’re right about raising the kids, but I think, after reading some of the blogs I’m now following and speaking to my psychiatrist after I wrote this piece, that a lot* of the exhaustion I’m feeling is coming from one of the meds that I’m on.

      *I’m not sure about percentages — how much is the kids and how much is the pill, but I think it’s a combination of the two. Plus a few other factors. And since spending less time with the kids isn’t an option, I think it’s the pill that has to be modified.

      Thanks again, Susan, it’s always good to see your avatar.

  3. fishrobber says:

    @Gabriel … sorry for hijacking your post, but Melanie’s comment hit me just as hard as what you wrote, which is very familiar to me. Like you, my illness leaves me devastatingly tired, but somehow I force myself to take care of things for everyone else. My own needs get left behind. I’ve never had a strong desire to take care of my health, whether physical, dental, mental, or emotional. … I hope you can see your successes with your kids, and I hope you can find some energy for yourself.

    • Gabriel... says:

      Thanks Rob. I let Melanie know you’re interested in talking. I like starting conversations, here or elsewhere, so hijack away. It’s always important to see other people going through similar situations, or living with the same symptoms. Knowing we’re not alone can give us hope.

  4. pjace19 says:

    Sorry to hear about your struggles. Happy to know that you’re writing about it. Please to see that you’re getting some helpful feedback.

    I pray that you realize that you’re not a failure. It doesn’t seem to me that you’re ready to throw in the towel, which is great.💃🏽

    Do you think that your life has become routine? Do you feel that you’ve lost sight of your goals, or they’ve been sidetracked by the lack of motivation to do them? Do you tell your therapist everything? And if not, why?

    Sending you an article I read. Hope that something is useful in it for you. 🙂

    • Gabriel... says:

      Hi. Thanks for commenting again, and thanks for the article. I do take a Glucerna every night before bed, it helps with the diabetes, and it has all the supplements I need. Plus, with a little added milk, it tastes like a milkshake, and that’s always a plus.

      I don’t think my life has become a routine, but I think my life has a routine to it. If that makes sense. Like, new things keep coming up, and I have to learn how to deal with them on the go, but at the core I think my life has a routine to it… wake up, kids eat breakfast, I go back to sleep for four hours, wake up to get supper ready, kids play for a couple of hours, then bed for them, then bed for me for ten hours. It’s that middle sleep that I have to get rid of.

      I do tell my psychotherapist everything regarding the issues we talk about. I’m very upfront with my psychiatrist… otherwise there’s just no point. As for goals… I used to set up five-year plans for myself. But since the kids came around, I’ve pretty much been operating on a 20-year strategy of getting them ready to be on their own. After that, I think my plan is to come up with a new plan.

      Thanks for coming over.

  5. Rochdalestu says:

    I can relate completely with you. I find it so difficult to get a bath, I don’t have a shower, but it’s now about 4 months since last one. I was in sink if I am going out anywhere. I’m meant to brush my teeth 4 times a day due to issues with gums and I only manage the morning brushing. I don’t have to shave every day but I still leave it two weeks until I do. Yet I go and get my hair cut religiously every fortnight!!! The confusing part for me is that I enjoy having a bath as I but my music on and have half an hour or so to relax. I prefer to be clean shaven or a little bit of stubble yet I can’t be arsed to shave and I walk past my toothbrush enough times in the day to stop and spend the 3 minutes needed with it easily. I’m also not picking up and playing my guitar as much as I would like as I love just playing oasis songs etc and I’m not exactly great or anything but for the three minutes I play the songs, I’m a rock god!!!
    I don’t know what it is that stops me doing these things and when I explain it to friends who don’t have mental illness they don’t understand and look at me with the expression of bewilderment and some ask if I’m being serious?! These are the things that people don’t see and how illnesses are not just limited to being black or white. I don’t have a answer but I have found that not persecuting myself over not doing them helps and it’s a bit like if you meet an excited puppy and you show it attention it’s all over you but if you ignore it, it wonders off. I have found not focusing on the things I should do and concentrating on the things I am doing has very slowly but surely meant I have done a bit better with them. Granted I have had a day when I brushed my teeth twice and then next day once again and so on. I know I will have a shave the night before I go to get hair cut so I might just get my hair cut weekly and see if I can get a routine shaving and then go back fortnightly haircut and keep shaving weekly? I don’t know as it is what makes life so wonderful if you just stand back and look at it. These are the things I have to deal with daily and I for one would rather be doing this than plugged into Facebook et al. Hope you all have a wonderful and merry Christmas 🎅🏼

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