Monday, February 3, 2014

Arctic (Bipolar) Depression and the Dance Cure

Current conditions indicate that I am in an arctic depression and the weather system is not budging.  In fact, it is causing ground conditions to destabilize: my brain’s atmosphere is gray and bleak; the horizon seems more like a flat, unscalable wall than one where there is sunrise and sunset each day; and each morning, after sending the kids off to school, I crawl back into bed because I can’t bear the thought of fighting my way through another day.  Of course, guilt gets me out of bed within the hour, but I resent getting out of bed, getting in the shower, going to the gym, doing all the things that are supposed to make me feel good about being alive.
I know, I know, I know.  I’ve been here before.  Bipolar depression takes me down this difficult, harrowing path several times a year, so I am well-schooled with that fact that I will eventually come out on the somewhat sunnier side.  But that doesn’t make the waiting game any easier.  Add to this that it truly is the deep well of Western Pennsylvania winter, which means most days are gray days, and the snow piles deep and cold, and temperatures are frigid at best.  As a result, I feel like one of those fifteenth-century peasants, all bundled up in layers, teeth chattering, dour and irritable, waiting for some sign that the sun and Spring will return but doubting it ever will.  No wonder I take to my bed.

And then there’s my newest diagnosis of Hypothyroidism due to my Lithium which might be a partial cause for my low energy and depression, as well as a recent inexplicable weight gain (guess what that does to Eating Disordered thinking that still hangs on).  So my doctor has just prescribed a new med which will hopefully help, but I’m not holding out for any miracles, but that just may be my negative arctic depressive thinking talking.  Maybe this will help turn my thinking around lickety-split and that horizon will suddenly reveal the sun rising in full glory.
But not all is doom and gloom.  What I’ve learned over the years is to push myself forward even when I’m stuck in the ditch on the harrowing path getting sprayed by icy slush from passing cars.  I have to otherwise I might give in to the temptation of the numbing cold, my toes and feet and fingers and hands losing all sensation, passing through the pain, giving into the pleasing seduction of freezing to death.  What I did instead was danced.  The other night for over two hours at a party without caring what I looked like.  Without giving into my self-conscious censor.  Giving into joy and abandon instead—the most effective counterweight to depression.  I danced to crazy 80’s songs and songs that just won Grammys and songs that told me to shake my ass.  By the end, my hair was damp and my back was sweaty and I was very, very happy.  And for two mornings in a row, the horizon has been a little closer and I haven't felt so much like crawling back into bed.  Maybe the weather system is lifting...just a little.