The Bipolar's Dilemma
I'm typing this with one finger on my iPad. If I cut this piece short, I hope you will forgive me.
I am in a hotel room on the Oregon coast about to go off the grid for a few days to attend a didgeridoo festival. I have been to two, but this year, faced with the prospect of driving about 1,200 miles each way by myself, I almost stayed home. My online ride-share feelers came up empty. My illness, coupled with my issues around driving, made traveling solo an absolute no-go. The mania-panic-agitation risk factor was way too high. Even a minor upset can trigger a major upset. I never let myself forget that.
But then, as my ride deadline passed, something just as bad happened - I found myself getting depressed. I thought of the wonderful times I had at my two previous festivals, the friends I made, the shared moments. I thought of all I would be missing out on. This wasn't good. I'm very skilled at managing my small depressions and seeing to it that they don't trigger large ones. But I don't like having to bet my life on the outcome. That big depression - the one I dread - is but one small depression away. I never let myself forget that.
Then a small miracle - someone who needed a lift halfway. There were still a lot of risks, but nevermind. I threw my stuff into my trunk and at 2 in the morning we were off. He drove the entire 600 miles of his leg. I was able to push myself for another couple hundred that same day, leaving me in an excellent position to manage the rest of the way in smaller increments. And here I am, relaxed, about to get a good night's sleep, a short drive from my destination.
Okay, there's a lesson in this ... Other people make plans. We make life-or-death risk assessments. Often, our illness mandates that we play it safe. But sometimes we are faced with a dilemma - call it the bipolar's dilemma - where either choice runs an equal risk. Stretch yourself and maybe get manic? Play it safe and get depressed? In my case, right now, I am very happy with my choice.