Today, I feel bipolar.

I’m sorry this is long.

I haven’t talked very blatantly about this lately. At least, not in a big way, not since my big tell-all about it in December. But, it’s been here. It’s real. It happens and it’s something I deal with.

I have a lot of “good” days and “stable” days and “normal” days. I have “mediocre” days, “meh” days, and “bad in a normal sort of way” days. I mean, there’s always a certain level of having to work just a little bit harder to lead a “normal” life compared to my “normal” friends. Most days, that’s not that big a deal. Then there’s days, like this one, where a segmented rational part of my brain knows, despite it all, that whatever mood I have isn’t necessarily a reflection of real-life.

It’s my brain, lying to me.

I’m always bipolar. I always will be. But I don’t always feel it in a big way.

And when I do feel it, it completely sucks.

If you don’t fully understand bipolar disorder, it’s a condition where your brain has trouble moderating its own chemicals. I don’t fully understand the biochemistry involved, but chemicals known as “neurotransmitters” are not effectively managed. Some folks have episodes that last months at a time and have long breaks in between. Mine isn’t quite like that. My episodes come in short bursts, and tend to be more subdued.

Either way, sometime during the afternoon, the mild feelings of “Tuesday sucks” suddenly turned into the familiar, dreadful realization that my chest felt hollow and empty. I lashed out at friends over minor things, because I was panicking about these feelings setting in. When others tried to have open, honest conversations with me about the crash we knew was coming, I put up walls, hid behind forced sarcasm and humor. I began questioning my own self-worth, my own skills, my own quality of work in my job and in my life. These things are normal.

I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to ferret away the hurt and act okay. While I don’t say it enough, I’m blessed to have friends that are willing to say, “I know you’re not okay today.” I’m trying to learn to be okay with not being okay. It’s hard. I’ve driven people away with my own instability, and now I’m overcompensating by holding it in…even around those who are accepting and nurturing.

I made a “vagueBook” status about it — nothing specific. The folks who know me well enough knew what it meant. Others who didn’t still had support to offer.

bipolar disorder Kelly Rivard

Thank you to everyone who had support to offer through emails, messages, IMs, likes, comments, and wall posts. Each little show of support is a ray of sunshine in the dark, dingy cell that is my brain right now.

The simple fact is something in my brain is off-kilter and I’m on my way down to what I typically refer to as a “crash.” I had a feeling this was coming — I’ve felt too good for too long. And it wasn’t until the crash hit today that I looked back and realized that I’d been operating a little fast lately.

In early adulthood, these disorders can fluctuate a lot. The “brand” of bipolar I deal with now feels very different than the one I dealt with in college. I don’t always know how to handle it. Now, I have longer periods of “stable” in between. And after years of dealing with little or no normalcy, the stability scares me. When you’re used to sailing in turbulent seas, solid ground can feel foreign and uncomfortable. The “new normal” of my bipolar disorder seems like I’m on a cycle that brings three or four (bigger but manageable) episodes a year, with smaller, milder ones in between. It’s taking getting used to.

I’d actually say bipolar disorder for me is a bit of a blessing. I get the joy of experiencing way more of the human emotional spectrum than most people can enjoy. While I spend a lot of time talking about how I don’t like “feelings,” that’s a lie. I just don’t like MY feelings. Despite that, I can empathize with people very easily. When you’ve felt pretty much every emotion in the book over a three-day period, it’s hard not to understand the full spectrum. I may not always show it, and I may act “okay” — but damn, do I feel it. And I feel the co-existing conditions that have developed alongside or because of bipolar: anxiety, mostly, and the occasional craving for a bulimic relapse. (I won’t do it. I refuse to let myself do that this time.)

Oddly enough, crashes bring up some fond memories too. The college roommate who walked to the candy store and bought a Heath-covered caramel apple to lure me out of bed when I was feeling particularly depressed; the many wonderful friends in my life who have held me while I hyperventilated during a panic attack; my best friend’s husband, who broke into a bathroom with a screwdriver to get to me because he didn’t want me falling back into bad habits. These things happened during a period of my life that I like to refer to as, “damn-near rock bottom.”

I’ve come a long way since then. Now, I have my faith, a strong career, and a wonderful support base. I have a lot more life experience, a lot more perspective, and a lot more self-love than I had when the theoretical shit was hitting the fan. Ideally, I’ll never be in a place to need that level of support again. But, if I needed it, I know I have it.

In a few days, I may be on the higher end of the spectrum. Or, I may be back to “normal” — I’m not entirely sure. But in the meantime, I’ll take care of me. I’ll turn to the folks who help the world make sense to me. I’ll pray. I’ll talk to my therapist. I’ll try my best to exercise, even though I really just want to lay around and feel sorry for myself. I’ll keep on going.

Because, you know what the best thing about bipoar disorder is?

The bad is temporary. The good, though…the good things I’ve gained because of this monstrous burden, those things stick around. So, if you seem me being moody, antisocial, anxious, uncharacteristically quiet, or overcompensatingly chatty this week, bear with me. It’ll pass.

Today, I feel bipolar. But I know I’ll be okay.


39 thoughts on “Today, I feel bipolar.

  1. Your honesty inspires me, your sharing helps me to not feel alone, I especially like your commentary on how this condition lets us experience a larger part of the world. As someone that battles this same condition I often say, sometimes it is a “curse” sometimes it is the “cure” as related to everyday life. Stay strong young lady and thank you for sharing!

  2. loved this, kelly! i really admire how open and honest you are because the only thing that can hold you back is keeping thoughts and feelings bottled up.
    “Iโ€™d actually say bipolar disorder for me is a bit of a blessing. I get the joy of experiencing way more of the human emotional spectrum than most people can enjoy.” –this is SUCH a wonderful way to look at bipolar disorder. i have a very close family member with bipolar and i’m going to have to remind her of this. ๐Ÿ™‚
    such an inspiration, as always!

    • Thanks, Katie. I never really saw bipolar that way until Jodi Oleen pointed it out to me. It’s been really instrumental in me keeping perspective during the lows like tonight.

      Thanks for being so encouraging and insightful and enthusiastic. I’m really blessed to have met you.

  3. Your bravery and strength just to share this post with the world is so inspiring. Your ability to open up about it just shows that your strength to manage bipolar is ever so present. Also, I wanted to share this quote which is always a favorite of mine…

    “A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

    And even though you may have hit this little patch of “hot water” , you are definitely strong enough to get through it. And the best thing about this for your case, that hot water doesn’t stay hot for ever, it cools down with time, as will this ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you for sharing and keep your positive spirits up! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you so much for the great words of encouragement. It seems like the water cooled fairly quickly this bout — I guess we’ll see how the next few days go. I’m a little nervous that this could be part of a bigger episode rather than just a dew days up, and a few days down. I’m hoping for stability, though. We’ll see ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks again, and stay fantastic.

  4. Kelly, I hope the crash isn’t a long one for you. Thank you for writing this post to help people like me understand the condition better. I’ll say some prayers for you too. Even on days you don’t feel it, you are an amazing person, and I’m glad we’ve connected through social media and met in person. All the best.

  5. Bless your beautiful heart! I know that took a lot of courage to write but it was awesome! By sharing your condition, it frees us all to share our struggles. We all have them–but very different! Stay strong & know that you have many friends, supporters & admirers– some you have never met in real life. Like Me!

  6. Another brave post Ms. Kelly. Keep staying true to you and keep smiling. You are doing good things for you and so many others. Love you bunches.

  7. One of the things I love most about you is your ability to be honest and real. You are you, you are Kelly. And there will never be another like you. You accept who you are (even if you don’t know it!) and it’s been neat to watch your grow/change just in the short time we have been friends. I appreciate your bravery and honesty to speak out but not only for those who are going through the same thing, but also for people like me who really have no idea what it is like to go through those things. You empower those who are living it and you educate those who aren’t. So thank you. And I am sorry if sometimes I am in that camp of “don’t know what is going on” but through our friendship, I am learning! ๐Ÿ™‚ Love ya! And keep doing what you are doing, you’re on the right path.

  8. Kelly, thank you so much for writing this! I feel like my life has been filled with this disease but I don’t know enough about it. You are a strong, wonderful person and you are more than this illness. I am always here for support!

    • Heath covered caramel apples are the best. I’ll never forget Sami walking in with one and waving at me from across the dorm room to get me out of bed.

      Thanks for encouraging me to write this. If it weren’t for you, this post probably wouldn’t have made it onto the Internet.

  9. You’re a brave girl, and I’m glad you shared this. Though I’ve only briefly met you in real life, I feel like I know you so well through social media. You’re an amazing advocate and to me, you’ve been a great encouragement and uplifter, as well as helper as I try to figure out the whole agriculture world. I’m thankful for you and I’m thankful that God made you just as you are, because you are perfect as is. Plow through girlfriend, because just as you said, it’s true, you will be okay. And on days when it doesn’t feel like it, just know that you’ve got a community of people who love you. And a God who loves you even more ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Briana, thank you. I wish we could have spent more time together face-to-face — I’ve enjoyed getting to know you so much over social media (and wish I was better at keeping touch so we could talk MORE). I’m so appreciative of the support and encouragement that I get from so many folks like you. And I’m incredibly blessed to have such great companions on this path God has set me on.

    • Tracie, thank you. I appreciate the encouragement. Today is definitely a better day, although better days leave me wondering if this is the end of an episode or just the middle point between extremes. I reckon we’ll see before too long.

      Keep up the great work with BBT. You guys are amazing.

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  11. It sounds like you’ve been through some stuff and felt what medication is like, but I hope you never experience full-blown mania because that will require drugs to stop. Out of control dopamine and serotonin equals crazy, but blocking these agents won’t make you the life of the party. Hopefully, your symptoms continue to be manageable.

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