It dawned on me recently how much time I spend preparing for the worst. And sometimes it pays off. For instance, when I spend an elaborate amount of time preparing for a big trip and then bam! I’m prepared and it goes great. Or in my work atmosphere. I dedicate extra time in preparing for phone meetings so I am not caught off guard by any topic. And I definitely spend too much time on projects in an attempt to scale back on extensive rewriting requests.
I have always felt that being prepared was a positive skill. Who doesn’t like to be prepared? Actually, I don’t understand people who aren’t organized or prepared. Why would you NOT want to be?! It’s quite frustrating when I hear about how ill-equipped people are for daily occurrences they know are coming. But, it’s not about them, it’s about me. I know everybody functions differently so I have to let go of my priorities when talking to somebody who walks through life differently than me. I of all people should know how quirky differences and behaviors make up a good part of who we are.
Getting to the bigger-picture-realization in all of this was coming to terms with how much of my time I waste on preparing for, and dreading, my irrational mood swings. With bipolar disorder, it’s a given that I will crash into deep depressions out of thin air for days or weeks at a time. Or that I will inevitably snap into manic episodes for no reason for long stretches as well. Or the worst. A mixed state. Thinking about those unbearable bouts terrifies me. Since I am so sure these unpredictable periods of my life will come into play every single year, I spend all of the time when I’m not “in” one of those three states worrying about when they will hit.
You would think at this point I would feel confident that I am as prepared as I can be for those daunting periods of my life. I know my meds and what changes I need during those times; I have my lifelines to call for support; I have a financial back-up plan; I know what my body and mind need during those periods, etc. But recently, I noticed that it is almost like I am waiting for it happen. It makes sense, since the moods are guaranteed and unpredictable that I would be on edge. In fact, I feel entitled to dreading them to some degree, it’s only natural.
I am obsessed. That is where I have crossed the line. I just wait every day. Waking up wondering if today is the day my body and mind chemistry decide to change on their own without my permission. Is today the day I have to make excuses to clients and friends about the upcoming days or weeks? The logistics themselves are overwhelming; and then there are the “moods”. I always disliked that term, moods. I feel that it suggests I put myself in those states, as if it were a choice. I am not a moody person. I am only burdened by the onslaught of illogical moods.
So I wait. And when a drastic mood state doesn’t come for days or weeks or months, the pressure and anticipation continue to escalate. Brief periods of wondering if I am getting better float me through several days in these “off” times. I wonder if these longer stretches of perceived normality mean I’m doing everything right and becoming more resilient by pure will. Then I remember to ground myself heavily back on the ground because I know it’s still there. My lifelong companion of unfair altered states and the fear of them that dictates even the best of days.
My forced realization of how I spend so much time dreading the worst of days fell upon me as I finally admitted to myself that I am wasting so much good time! I know for a fact I’m the best prepared for those horrible states than I have ever been in my life. I need to find a way to push myself to “enjoy” to whatever extent I naturally can the times in between when things just aren’t as bad. Maybe by sharing this conundrum, others’ experiences can spark ideas how to start living my life during the in-between.