Written by Desiree Nunez
My alarm goes off for the fifth time. I’ve already missed an 8:30 lecture and will most likely be late for 9:30 Spanish. Instead of hitting snooze, I just give in and turn off the alarm altogether. Despite being in bed for 10 hours, I’ve slept only four. My body is pained and achy. This awful migraine plagues my brain. My thoughts are cloudy, intertwined and muffled. I’m terrified of leaving my bed. No one wants to see this side of me. I don’t want to fake smiles and laughter. I don’t want to be asked if I am OK. I don’t want to autopilot my way through work or class.
I don’t want to risk having an anxiety attack in public. I don’t want to fail in any regard. I just can’t handle it today. So, I lay there all the more. My fear just as deafening as the silence and stillness of my surroundings.
I am freezing cold with my desolate state of being and overwhelmed state of mind. I hardly feel safe – or comfortable, or motivated, or hopeful, or purposed, or capable. My only meager security is the blankets and sheets I hide within.
Moisture assaults my tear ducts begging for release. I do what I know how to do to manage symptoms – I shove my headphones in, crank up Twenty-One Pilots, roll over, pray (sometimes cussing and screaming into the pillow), and drift back into sleep. This is my attempt at pushing the restart button.
An hour or two will pass. I have slept more than half of my day. Guilt creeps in to overtake me. I can’t let it. I have to fight it. I use all of my mental faculties to retrieve scriptures, practical coping methods from my psychology courses, beautiful song lyrics – anything that can interrupt the cycle of angst trampling my thoughts. Redirect them. Think positive. Think influentially. Think of love. Think of power. Think of helping others.
I unleash the arsenal of light.
I get out of that bed. I put sweats on. I throw my hair in a bun or a ponytail. I text a few friends to let them know today is a battle. They respond with reminders of how loved I am. They text back offering me their presence after classes. I drink some coffee and read my bible. I pack my bags and get to class. I don’t remember the lectures I sit through – but, I was there. That’s a step.
I text my brother and sister. I eat a late lunch. I drive around singing my heart out until I lose my voice. I get home. I attempt homework. I am typically unsuccessful. I try again. I quit. I curl up in a ball. I watch Netflix. My friend joins me. I cry sometimes. I sketch. I read. I write. My friend leaves. I shower. I cry again. And then I go back to bed.
I did not necessarily thrive. But, I did survive… I survived. That is the only thing that matters. For right now, I am doing the absolute best that I can. The absolute best. There is no shame in that. Especially because bipolar lows are excruciating. The weight of this pervasive depression is agonizing and hardly bearable. It is all-consuming – but you cannot let it devour you. You must fight. Fight for your next breath and for the small victories that allow for your continual breathing. You see, in a low, every task – no matter how trivial – requires every ounce of effort you possess.
“It is all-consuming – but you cannot let it devour you. You must fight. Fight for your next breath and for the small victories that allow for your continual breathing. You see, in a low, every task – no matter how trivial – requires every ounce of effort you possess.”
I understand that all too well. Just know it does not go unnoticed. My friend, you are still here. You are alive. With every breath, there is hope. With every victory, no matter the size, you have overcome your illness. It does not define you. Do you hear me? Nor will it ever define you. You struggle with bipolar disorder; you are not bipolar. You struggle with depression; you are not depressing. You are loved. You may feel weak, but you are not; you are incredibly strong. I don’t care that it took you five hours to get out of bed this morning. It took me six hours to do the same last Monday. Keep fighting. You are an inspiration. You still got out of bed.
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