Surviving a Hit Out of the Blue
I’d been doing pretty well lately, I thought, managing to find satisfaction in my painting even though sales have been slow this year. I hadn’t seen hypomania in a long time, but at least I wasn’t plunging to any depths either. Then yesterday, seemingly out of the blue, I had a complete breakdown.
It started when I got up, feeling sluggish, but I didn’t notice anything until I snapped at Adrian over some minor transgression, like not turning the lights off when he left a room. “Oops,” I thought, “I’m feeling really irritable. I wonder what’s wrong?”
I ignored the feeling and went to work, but everything made me angry. My daughter sent me an email about an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education written by a professor with bipolar disorder. “I could have written that,” I thought. “I was a professor with bipolar disorder.” Instead of enjoying the article and being glad that someone was writing about these issues, all I felt was jealousy and anger.
Then Adrian stopped to talk to me while I was on the computer. He does this all the time, many times a day, and when I’m feeling OK, I don’t mind. If I’m in the middle of something and can’t stop to talk, I’ll tell him. This time I snapped at him: “You should ask first before you interrupt me all the time!”
“Why don’t you just tell me when you don’t want me to interrupt?” he suggested.
“I told you I was in a bad mood and irritable today.”
“But what am I doing that bothers you so much?”
“You’re irritating me just by being alive!”
He left and I felt awful. The bad feelings started to escalate, and pretty soon I was hating myself and my life and couldn’t stand to be in it for another minute. I had sunk into so big a hole, so quickly, and I had no idea where it had come from. All I could think about was the movie, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They.
Fortunately, some corner of my brain knew I needed to get outside and go for a walk. I hadn’t been walking outdoors for three days, and that might have contributed to my attack.
It took several hours before I was able to force myself to go for that walk, but after a few minutes in the woods, I started to feel some relief. Everything wasn’t solved, of course, but at least I could stand to remain among the living again.
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Published On: October 10, 2006
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