Being bipolar is tough. How do I keep fighting when I don’t have any fight left in me?

A week or two ago Ann and I made our now very familiar trip to the doctor in Salt Lake. After years of searching and trial and error, we really feel that we have a team we trust that is on our side, helping us navigate these wild and crazy waters.

I have found that I have a bottom-line test for how things are going: I ask myself if I can I do this long term.muscleman

Now, not to brag or anything, but I’m a pretty tough nut.

Okay, how could that be anything but bragging?

Oh well, moving on.

I can take a lot. I’m pretty clever and can usually find ways to adapt and make my new reality work for our family. Pain is certainly relative. I’m always sure it can be worse.

For example, when I had a large pulmonary embolism along with three other smaller ones, I waited more than 30 minutes before deciding that maybe I should call Ann and go get it checked out. The fact that I couldn’t breathe didn’t really convince me that, given enough time and will power, I wouldn’t be able to adapt and just get used to it.hospital

It will eventually go away, right?

I guess my point is, I am rarely going to ask for medical help.

But this journey through mental illness has humbled me a bit. Every once in a while I actually will realize I need to ask for help.

So, most of the time I feel that I can answer my question about gearing up for the long term in the affirmative. We can figure it out.

When I say we, I mean either Ann and me, Heavenly Father and me, or even the combination of Greg and the real Greg (aren’t those imaginary friends great?).

Or, it is a combination of all of the above.

But every now and then I will have to admit to the doctor that I just can’t do this long term.depression3

I’ve hit a point where I need some help.

As much as it kills me to ask for it, I understand that it may just kill me if I don’t.

On our last trip to Salt Lake, I was at that point.

As we worked together through what I had been doing and what I needed to change in my medication, I realized and admitted that I had just wanted a break from the fight.

I’ve thought a lot about that since our conversation in the doctor’s office.

These last few days have been abnormally tough. Yesterday I felt I needed more than a break, I felt like I just didn’t have any more to draw from to even approach the battle line.

angryWhen I snapped without cause into that murderous rage inside of me that has been dormant for so long, all I could think was “really?”

Whatever.

But I looked at the clock and knew that Ann would be coming home soon.

And I had two options:

I could be a mess curled up in the closet; or, I could greet her when she comes in and ask her about her day and enjoy the conversation as I trail behind her from the mudroom to the kitchen to the bedroom to the closet to change her clothes (well, you get the idea; I’m like Ann’s little puppy never giving her some peace).

Some may think that I am not facing the real issues by wanting to stuff all the feelings back down inside and ignore them, choosing instead to do the continual work of overcoming for her. The argument would be that I should be doing it for me.

I disagree.

Ann and I were talking a few weeks ago, and again, I marveled at how everything she has ever done since I have known her is for others: me, her calling in the ward, her coworkers, her children.

Especially her children.

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The amount of time she spent reading with them cannot be quantified.

She needs to write the manual on being a mother. Every breath she took was focused in teaching, training, and loving her children.

And look at them now.

The point is that when I reminded her that she never did anything for herself, she looked at me and said “have you ever considered that this is what I do for myself?”

Wow.

Mulling it over through those nights that never seem to end, I understood that this is the quiet miracle of the gospel of Jesus Christ waiting to be discovered by each of us.

It brought a much deeper, more personal understanding of the scriptural teaching “if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth.”

Choosing to get up from the fetal position in the closet, prepare dinner, and greet Ann after a long work day strengthens her.

And it strengthens me.

Kind of like putting the pain into its relative place in our lives.

Rather than having it be the center and main focus, it can be nudged to the periphery; we know it is there, but it doesn’t have to consume us.clouds3

As we enjoyed our quiet evening together last night, I forgot that I didn’t have any fight left in me.

And in the forgetting, I remembered that I don’t have to fight alone.

Whatever “we” I am in at the time, one of us will always have what it takes to fight.

You are the only one who knows what is incredibly hard in your life. You are the only one who knows when your tank is empty and that you aren’t sure that you can do this long term.

How will you keep fighting?

The miracle is there for each us.

We just have to be willing to ask for the help.

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4 thoughts on “Being bipolar is tough. How do I keep fighting when I don’t have any fight left in me?”

  1. How is it that you always seem to say what I need when I need it? I have been feeling exactly this same way lately; I’m tired and I’m tired of being tired and I’m done. I’ve actually had a pretty good stretch of health lately, but it’s starting to dip (thank you cold weather and holiday stress) and I feel like I’m on edge all the time, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. And I hate living that way. I don’t know if you’ve read “The Fault in Our Stars” but one of the main characters, who is in cancer remission, talks about how she feels like a grenade waiting to go off. I bawled when I read that because it put into words how I felt all the time. And it’s exhausting.
    But reading your words reminded me of how very not alone I am, even when I feel like I am. I am surrounded by people who love me and want to help and I just need to reach out, which I suck at. Like you trying to work around your pulmonary embolism (really, how important is breathing anyway????), I tend to “turtle up” (as Jeremy calls it) and try to hunker down for the duration. Which usually makes things worse because then I get in my own head, which is a big fat mess.
    I’m starting to ramble, but long story short, thank you. Thank you for the reminder that it’s ok to ask for help and that sometimes it’s necessary and vital to ask. Thank you for the reminder that there is life outside of my own crap and I need to focus on that. Thank you for the reminder that I need to open up instead of shutting down. Just thank you.

    1. I can’t say that I loved “The Fault in Our Stars” but I found myself pondering a lot while reading it, and after. That grenade thing hits pretty close to home, doesn’t it. A few weeks ago someone at church asked me how I was doing and before I caught myself, I said to him “I’m done.” Not angry, not thinking “to heck with this”, but just a quiet “okay, it’s been a great ride but I’m ready to get off and just close my eyes.”

      I hear you Chelsea. And I know that you hear me. Pretty great that we can all be heard.

      You are a giant among humanity.

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