Help, I Feel Good!
So, interesting thing. Mental illness has a tendency to run roughshod through a person's life. Everything in life goes by the wayside to make room for the unbearable being of crazy. You know you're alive because you're in pain.
And then, against all odds, or at the very least against some odds, you start to feel better. It's a miracle. Breath and life and oxygen and delight fill the lungs. Suddenly life is easy. Cupboards get organized, relationships get mended and Work Gets Done. Life is Good.
Why, then, is it so freakin' scary?
Remembering the Bad Times
Standing next to the bad times, in the good times, you can still taste the bad times on your lips. You can still feel the desperation running down your spine. You can palpate the seemingly endless suffering. The pain might be a memory, but it's one heck of a Technicolor, Dolby surround-sound one.
Good Times are Scary
So looking out at the new, shiny, happy life where smiles exist on your face and on the face of those around you even the possibility of being dragged back into the hopeless, painful abyss is terrifying. Knowing where you've been and that you're likely to return makes the air frightening.
People are beyond desperate not to return to suffering. People would rather die than go back there. I know. I don't blame them one bit. The bad times can be horrific.
Feeling Good is a Rare and Beautiful Thing
For people with a severe mental illness their times of feeling good may be limited. I would like to tell everyone that if they do all the Right Things they will have sustained, meaningful recovery forever, but, well, life doesn't let me make the rules on such things. You can do everything the playbook says and it can all go horribly, horribly wrong. Without warning. Tomorrow.
Instead all I can recommend is this: damn the torpedoes; grab the good times by the scruff of the neck and swing them around the room, even if it means knocking over a bedside lamp.
Because they might not be here long.
Tracy, N. (2011, June 27). Help, I Feel Good!, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2011/06/help-i-feel-good
Author: Natasha Tracy
Hi Natasha! I just wanted to thank you for all of your wonderful posts. I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar 2 after suffering for 4 years with symptoms. I felt alone for so long. I didn't think anyone felt the same as I did. Today I am having a good day, but all I can think about is when will the happiness fade away and when will I sink back into depression. Your posts give me motivation not give up and take it one day at a time. You don't know how much you have helped me. Thank you :)
The bad times don't even feel real. On one hand, I know they happen, and I've spent more time feeling miserable than feeling even neutral in the last ten years, but when things are great it's like none of that stuff matters. I just canceled further appointments with a counselor and specialists because I feel so good about this time. Maybe it wasn't the right choice? Dunno :o
I can relate to Cyndee, I became stable after a number of years and was doing okay. Sort of new to this whole illness thing. This past year I've been quiet. Instead of reacting to the changes, just let it blow in and out as best as possible. I started to feel nice finally mid-spring. Actually felt in charge of myself but still had limitations and finally accepted them. That was a ground breaker. I credit it in part with what Natasha said. Going slow and gentle. The only thing I'd add is if you start to feel overwhelmed is to quickly back the truck up a bit so you don't spiral. Maybe even trying several hours at first instead of a few days. Just my experience. I grieved horribly the person I once was, but have changed. It's okay to be a different person now and to do things differently than before and not be ashamed. When I slip I used to get real bad would a, should a, could a that makes it all that much worse. Wanna go back to when I was better. Doing better at keeping that under control too. Laurie
Congratulations on becoming stable. Good for you! You did the hard work. And it paid off.
Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to perform. Ramp up slowly. You're not a superhero. You don't have to hit the ground sprinting. Bit by bit you can get yourself there.
(FYI, there are lots of people who specialize in memory and cognitive improvement therapy, if that's something you want to look at.)
I can understand how scary it is to start something new like this. But it's positive. Try to be gentle with yourself and take it in baby steps. You don't want to sabotage yourself with unreasonable expectations.
"figure out something else that doesn’t make me feel ashamed of myself."
Please, _please_ try not to look at it this way. You should not be ashamed of yourself. You are doing the best you can at this moment in time. You're working to do better tomorrow. That's a good thing.
You are not shameful. Not being able to pick up where you left off is not shameful. You have done a lot of hard work to get where you are and that is _commendable_ and _brave_ and _strong_ and nothing close to shameful. Do not put the pressure of shame on yourself.
I am proud of you. You've battled back from the impossible. Shame is the farthest thing from my mind.
I've just recently become stable after 6 years and multiple hospitalizations. Right now I'm not worried about relapsing because I'm home, but I'm about to start what could be a volunteer job that requires some real thinking and technical knowledge. These years have taken their toll on my memory and I have mild to moderate cognitive impairment depending on the day. It is scary to know I'll have to do something that requires I be there for multiple hours and couple or few days a week and recall skills I USED to have that may or may not be easy to retrieve from my memory. This volunteer job is a test. It will tell me how long and/or if I can get a job at the level I used to have or if I'll have to figure out something else that doesn't make me feel ashamed of myself.
Really well said.
"I want so much to enjoy being happy, but after years of hell, it’s hard to know how to do that. Hell becomes comfortable, familiar, after awhile. Happy is uncharted territory and everyone fears the unknown."
Sad, but true. I adapt to happy a little better than most, it seems, but the fear of the unknown is real even if the unknown is good.
Thanks. Glad you liked it :)
"But I don’t say this with sadness or despair, on contrair, through this process I started to seek ‘joy’, something with a much deeper meaning "
That's an interesting idea. Perhaps "meaning" is the best word for it. We all seek meaning. I'm not sure meaning brings me joy, but if it does for you, then I say go to it.
That is something many of us can relate to. I was trying to focus on just being well rather than the wellness being a symptom of a problem to come, but certainly that is a reality. And definitely a cause of fear. Reasonably.
Exactly. Well put. I'm in a "good time" right now, but it's a a delicate balance between being aware of my emotions so I don't slip into a "bad time" and being obsessed and terrified of every little up and down. I want so much to enjoy being happy, but after years of hell, it's hard to know how to do that. Hell becomes comfortable, familiar, after awhile. Happy is uncharted territory and everyone fears the unknown.
The happiness becomes weird, with a permanent twist of all-that-comes-up-must-go-down.
While ago, in order to survive, I stopped to trust my own emotions. But here the brain comes back, and lures us with 'happiness' into the comfort being conscienceless again. It is hard to say no, but that is the survivor choice.
Our personality begins to peel as an onion, in front of us: I cannot longer be as a child and enjoy the moment. I have to keep taking my pills, even if they bring me down, I have to keep going to bed early and have my regular sleep, using sleeping aid, even if I am able to party all nigh all nights.
Awake to the bitterness understanding that "feeling happy" is not the same as "being healthy". Happiness may -or is- another manifestation of my disease.
I remember when I believed I was normie happiness, was all that I wanted and needed, was the sole evident purpose of my life, and I believed, for everyone else lives. But now it is an crystal jar, and I can use it as medicine, at adequate dose only.
But I don't say this with sadness or despair, on contrair, through this process I started to seek 'joy', something with a much deeper meaning .
Yep, that's it in a nutshell. Nice visuals. Great writing!
For me the good times are terrifying. I can't relax and enjoy it, because 75% of the time its not me doing good, its the begining of the mania that destroys large portions of my life. And damages everyone who comes near me. My highs are not as high with my med coctail, but they still make me scared of happinessg