Was I surprised to find myself crying in the bathroom stall at work last week? Not really.
I secretly knew that the eternal joy and optimism I wrote about wasn’t going to last. I’ve been around this crazy block a few times. I think I’m figuring out how this life is going to work for me.
Sometimes I can understand everything, it is all so simple and clear. I am rational. I plan things. I solve problems. I am helpful. Then, suddenly the clouds cover the sun and everything becomes foggy. I can’t even understand what people are saying to me. I squint to try to make out the words but it just doesn’t help. I open the fridge to get some water and I’m paralyzed by the obstacle course in front of me. There is so much food blocking the water jug. Suddenly the smallest tasks become insurmountable. I just can’t figure out the order of the steps in my foggy head.
A video clip that I posted described living with bipolar as trying to balance on a boat with a kite tied to one hand and an anchor tied to the other. I think of this often.
I am starting to believe that with the help of my meds, I will actually be able to stay afloat. But I will still be hosting a funhouse in my head so with the clarity that the meds do give me, I need to be vigilant about following some guidelines to protect what is really important to me (my family).
Future Lyla, don’t forget these rules to keep bipolar from ruining your life:
#1: When you suspect that you may be falling off the rocker (in either direction), stop, drop and roll.
You are a bull in a china shop, take a deep breath and tiptoe slowly towards the door. Your one (and only) mission is to protect yourself and the people that you love and have worked hard for (even if you can’t remember why they matter). Make sure that someone else is taking care of your kids. Then shut down until the storm passes. (This is a free pass to watch endless hours of Netflix- zoning out on the couch lessens the risk of acting on stupid ideas.)
#2: Don’t get a tattoo. Ever. You will regret it.
#3: Don’t try to give yourself a pixie cut. It’s a bad idea.
#4: If your brain tells you to obsessively clean the house, exercise, eat healthy food, wash with baking soda, or play with your kids, go for it! If you notice that you are being pulled down the street on a leash by a really fast horse, refer to rule #1.
#5: Don’t quit your job. Ever. It pays the bills and keeps your husband sane. It does not define you. If you don’t like it, find another one, but don’t quit first.
#6: Know that you don’t know. Try not to tell people, “just trust me, it’s a good idea”… it might not be. Let them decide for themselves.
Try to ride the wave instead of swimming against the current and things will turn out okay.