On Mental Health Recovery and Restless Demons

Recovery is never a matter of total perfection. It can’t be. There are too many variables that can affect the outcome. In the past six months, I’ve had two very minor escalated cycles; one of which ended less than a week ago. They were so minor, in fact, that I didn’t manifest any of the physical symptoms that I usually have when I escalate. I was sleeping consistently and had no pressured thoughts or speech. What did occur was the warping of emotions and perception that fueled several bad decisions. I couldn’t tell that I was unwell until I hit the wall and crashed into a black depression, signaling the end of an escalated cycle.

During that cycle, demons that I had thought I put to sleep years ago through a lot of self-reflection, study, and therapy came back out to play. As a result, I overran boundaries I set for myself, as well as disrespectfully trampling all over those of a new friend and breaking their trust. That was a bitter pill to swallow given how much time and effort I’ve sunk into creating an atmosphere for trust and respect. Gone in a matter of days. Thank you, Bipolar Disorder.

I was completely blind to the years of effort, knowledge, and experience I had put in to correcting these social issues I struggle with due to High-Functioning Autism. I made every bad decision I could possibly make, decisions that I had learned years ago were completely wrong and worked to correct. I was listening but not actually hearing what this other person was telling me.

Recovery is not always clean and neat. Demons that you defeat can come back to haunt you later. You can’t look at it as a failure, just a part of the overall process. It’s one of the many bumps in the road that you will undoubtedly hit as you try to move forward and be better than you were yesterday. Maybe you will be able to salvage the situation; or maybe you’ll just have to watch yet another thing burn on the funeral pyre that is Bipolar Disorder.

It’s okay to stumble. All you can do is try to mend the situation as best as you can, if possible. And if it’s not possible, sweep up the ashes and keep going because tomorrow can be better. It doesn’t make you stupid, foolish, or mean you’re derailing. Mistakes happen. Shit happens. You just have to take it in stride, own your actions, try to fix them where you can, and keep going forward. You’ll be okay.

I’ve found that a number of people think that recovery means total functionality and normalcy. But, it really doesn’t. A lot of times it boils down to attaining a great deal of control and management over one’s dysfunctions and challenges, but still needing to put out the occasional fire that can pop up. It’s hard to unmake decades of negative beliefs or behaviors. And even if you do? The demon can still be there, lurking in the darkness, just waiting for you to slip up a little bit so it can come back out to play.

Learn from it and work towards not making those same mistakes again.

I’m not one to air out personal grievances or problems with others, but I felt that I would share this circumstance with you, the reader, to demonstrate that it doesn’t matter how much you know, how rigid you are with your medication, how much time you spend in therapy, or how much experience you have; Bipolar Disorder can and will still cause disruption in your life. That’s just the way it goes.

Seems it may be time for a medication adjustment of my own.

And to the person I wronged, I am deeply apologetic for my disrespectful behavior and profoundly sad I destroyed your trust. I was escalated and did not realize it until my brain crashed and burned. The person you saw in that time is not who I am; it was a fragment of who hypomanic me can be. 

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2 Responses to On Mental Health Recovery and Restless Demons

  1. Mike says:

    Ill or not we all mess up sometimes. With bipolar I think friends and family must learn that sometimes it’s the illness not the person. That’s hard for most people. But love will usually provide the energy to sort it out.

    • Dennis says:

      I agree with that, Mike. The main thing to keep in mind as you read through the blog and comments here, that every situation is unique, though there are great similarities. In one family, you can have an incredibly supportive family who is trying their best to help their loved one. In another, you may have a mentally ill person who is struggling hard to stay afloat in an incredibly toxic family environment rife with their own mental illness. You can never look at anything as an absolute. There are always details that matter that change the dynamics of a situation. And there is also the fact that in reading posts and comments and such; you’re only getting one side of the story as well. It may be true from that person’s perspective, but it may not be the actual truth.

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