An Open Letter to Myself

Dear ______,

You can look at this in two ways.

1) Okay, so your rapidly changing mood fucking terrifies me. You can be ecstatic, enthused, excited, over-joyed one minute, and on the brink of tears the next. I googled the symptoms of Bipolar disorder and sobbed. What if you are? What does that mean for the project you just started? The one you just thought up? You were so excited about it. What if it’s just the seed of a manic episode and you are about to lose all interest in it?

Those symptoms are terrifyingly familiar.

The idea that you might never be able to trust your own plans and ideas because they might just be the result of some manic self-importance is the most horrifying idea. What do you do with your life if you can’t trust anything you think? Is your sense of self unreal?

But then…

2) I mean, come on! You’ve been fine so far. What the hell is wrong with you? Why are you letting yourself wallow? Get on with it. Have a bath. Read a book. Eat something good. Get outside your goddamn house. Call your friends! Have faith in the projects you’re excited about. Don’t be such a fucking drama queen. Think about it: you’re tired. You’re bound to be depressed.

And blah blah blah… poor you, you’ve had such a bad year… blah blah blah… when are you going to get over that? Just pick yourself up. You weren’t Bipolar before; you aren’t now.

Your Mum would fucking laugh if you told her you felt like this. And she’s never been wrong yet.

Get the hell on with it! Life is short.

I’m waiting.
______ x

p.s. Or maybe you are sick…

p.p.s. Feel better now you’ve written that? Good.

p.p.p.s. How long will the peace last this time? Let me know when you’re crying again.

p.p.p.p.s. Breathe.

4 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Myself

  • I’m not a therapist, but I’ve had a shitload of therapy over the years. My own therapist has explained to me that while there are specific diagnostic markers for bipolar, it isn’t always so black and white. The criterion she uses is simple: how dysfunctional is your life? If you can work, support yourself, have decent relationships etc. – in short, if you’re managing well without medication, you are probably just fine. There is a sub-clinical designation called hypomania. I thInk of it as bipolar-lite, lol. It is not at all uncommon, in fact, many creative people work in these cycles. More info on hypomania here:
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypomania#section_1

    If you can’t fully function because of the swings and things like the manic grandiosity, or crippling low periods, maybe you _are_ bipolar, and that’s neither failure nor death sentence. It’s manageable for many, sometimes without medication. Professional help is, well, helpful.

    What I really hope for you would be that you be kinder to yourself than this letter implies. I’m saddened by how harshly you judge yourself. We all should aspire to treat ourselves with the same mix of gentle compassion and sporadic tough love that we would use with a dear friend. I wish you well.

  • Dear Anonymous,

    From what you have written it doesn’t sound like bi-polar (yes I am a mental health professional). It DOES sound like you are stressed to death. It does sound like you need to talk to someone but who to talk to? I would advise talking your GP, they ‘gate keep’ other services and should be able to point you in the right direction. If your GP is a prat (there are a few out there) ask for another one, or go with a trusted friend. Nervous about speaking to them? Write a list of questions you want to ask or points you want discuss. Either way, the thing is that you need to talk to someone, you need to get it out.

    Here are a couple of websites you could check out.
    http://www.mind.org.uk/
    http://www.rethink.org/

    You said that you have had a lot on your plate this year. Having a lot of stress uses up all the ‘happy’ chemicals in your brain so that there is nothing left. So you can’t produce happy feelings no matter how hard you try. Here is a blog post I wrote that explains it:
    http://kerrystott.com/68/them-and-us/

    Writing this open letter is a start. As I am writing this, there are 2 other comments already posted; I hope that this shows that there are people who care, people who take what you are saying seriously, people who value what you have to say and contribute to life. I would like to be added to that list.

    Good luck,
    Kerry xxxx

  • I could have written this letter, I have written this letter in my mind so many times.

    I’m constantly stressed out that I’m not good enough and the only person they is implying that “rule” or “measure” so to speak, is myself.

    We are far harsher on ourselves then anyone else could ever be.

    Take care, I think you were brave to write this out in the open and I know for myself, writing things like these out, “challenging” the crap line of thought/action always seems to help with correcting it. Ofcourse, I didn’t think that up myself, 15 years of therapy did that.

    hugs
    Jana

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