Have you ever had one of those moments where everything makes sense, and yet nothing makes sense all at the same time? I’ve had a few of those recently. The first time was learning that I may have a dissociative disorder (more on that in my next post). The second was when I received a new diagnosis: Bipolar II disorder. I wasn’t surprised. I’ve known for awhile that there was something else going on with me besides just being depressed and anxious, but I had trouble articulating it. I knew those times in between being depressed where I felt good were suspiciously good…too good…and often involved me feeling completely jumpy and restless, like I needed to run a marathon or buy all the things.
So, it turns out, there’s a name for that: Bipolar II, which essentially means that I’m mostly depressed with spurts of mild mania scattered about my life like some flower girl who went a little crazy tossing flowers down the aisle. What this means in my day-to-day life is that I never know when I’m going to feel good, and how long it’s going to last. It’s not something that I can count on. In fact, the “up” days usually catch me by surprise. They’ll last for a few days at most — maybe a week or so, if I’m lucky — and then I’ll feel myself plummeting back down into depression. I can always count on the depression.
It makes it hard to trust myself…which self do I trust? Do I trust the depressed self, who feels hopeless and doesn’t see a bright future ahead of her, who fears the consequences of bringing a new life into this world? Or, do I trust the manic self who decides raising chickens would be a good idea, wants to get married as soon as possible, and hopes to have a child someday. How do I balance these two opposing forces in me? How do I know what I really feel? Trusting my gut doesn’t feel safe anymore, because my “gut” feels very different depending which day you catch me on.
Recently, a friend of mine wrote a lovely blog post about the power of dreams, and using information from those dreams to learn things about ourselves. Since I have very vivid dreams, I tried out her advice to (and I’m paraphrasing here) focus on an object within the dream and picture yourself as the object, then ask what it might be trying to say about yourself.
In a recent dream my object was this giant puzzle/sculpture that my family and I were trying to put together to win a contest hosted by a radio station (don’t ask why that would be a thing…dreams are weird). We were struggling, arguing over how to put the puzzle together, but I was convinced that I knew how the puzzle was supposed to be solved and tried to take control of the situation.
So, I pictured myself as the puzzle. What does being a puzzle say about me? Hmm. Maybe that my life feels like a puzzle right now — between having a dissociative disorder and bipolar disorder, my “self” is a little fractured, and I’m trying my very best to put this “puzzled self” back together again and make some sense of it. I’m one big humpty dumpty story.
But, I had another thought. Maybe, my family was there in my dream for a reason. Maybe to make sense of what’s going on, I need their input and I need their help. And, maybe my “self” isn’t defined solely by my ups and downs, but by people who have always been in my life to support me and give me feedback — to remind me of who I am. Yes, ultimately, I’m the only one who can “solve” the puzzle, but I can’t get there alone. I need my family, and my community, to help guide me to the solution.
I don’t know if I’ll ever feel “whole” and not divided like I feel right now. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel integrated or stable. I don’t know if I’ll solve the puzzle. But, I know I have a community to support me along the way and remind me of who I am. And, if that’s the only thing that makes sense right now, I’m okay with that.