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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The dip

"When you recognize that you're in a dip, be kind to yourself."

This is what my psychiatrist advised me this morning. I went to his clinic for my monthly consultation, which I think was timed perfectly: I was (I am) in a dip. Meaning, I'm having a depressive episode. I've been in one for more than a week already, and it's hell.

Such really is the case for people with bipolar disorder, no matter how mild or how severe the disorder is. My psychiatrist always tell me that in people with bipolar disorder, the part of the brain that regulates mood doesn't function well. Hence, we experience extreme mood shifts. It's like a pendulum that swings from extreme ends. It's like a switch that goes on and off without warning or without cause.

That explains my dip from being okay and stable to being so down. It's as if I'm surrounded by dark, heavy clouds. I remember feeling great at the end of October, the highlights of which are our anniversary concert last October 26 and spending the next weekend at my boyfriend's hometown. After that came the dip. There was no trigger. There was no cause. The switch flicked off by itself, and I was plunged into depression.

Getting out of bed is a battle whenever I'm in a dip. I can work, yes, I can write, but I can do so at a slower pace. I feel weak. I don't have strength for anything. My body just wants to keep still. Even if I want to go elsewhere, I can't go somewhere far because my mind isn't strong and stable enough to bear the commute (and here in Metro Manila, you need a strong mind and body to fight, and I really mean fight, the monsters of commuting).

"Be kind to yourself," my psychiatrist told me this morning. When I'm in a dip, he told me to lower my expectations of myself, because the disorder causes me not to be at my 100 percent. He added that it's okay if I can't do everything at once. I just need to prioritize one and shelve the rest for the following day or week. And that's perfectly okay.

This reminded me of what my friend advised me last week. She told me that we shouldn't feel guilty about how we're feeling, and that it's okay if sometimes, we can't attend to our responsibilities. We're not being irresponsible. Things just become harder when we're in a dip.

Right now, I'm in a dip, and that's okay. No need to fight it and be a superwoman. I just have to do what I can.

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