Being bipolar can be tough at times. And for me, the worst part of it is the depression. My depression gets so deep and dark that I cannot function for days, weeks, and even months at a time. And what is especially hard is when I know certain things will likely trigger a depressive episode but I can’t do anything to avoid them. This happened to me recently, specifically in my trip to see my grandparents and subsequently my dad.
My relationship with my father is not nor will it likely ever be close. He has not and will not give up drinking in order to have a healthy father-daughter relationship with me. This makes me feel horrible, to say the least, but I have to accept it and walk away as much as I can. However, he is my father and I cannot avoid him completely when he is in the same small town of 600 or so people as my grandparents.
I went up to help when my grandfather was recently hospitalized which is triggering enough for depression, seeing a strong, proud man like my grandpa in the hospital bed fighting pneumonia. Add to that my grandmother, who is the sweetest woman in the world, worried about my grandfather and suffering in her own right. These are tough things to deal with in and of themselves.
I have no problem helping care for my grandparents. In fact, I value the opportunity and every minute I get to spend with them. But when I am there I feel guilty. Guilty that I cannot do more, that I am not a good enough granddaughter, that there should be something more that I am doing for them. I drive myself crazy with self-doubt, self-loathing, and worry.
And then there is my dad, a constant source of anxiety any time I have to deal with him directly. While his attitude changed when I left to come home (earlier than I planned, by the way) and he was nicer to me, I still did not feel comfortable around him. He kept bringing up the letter I wrote to him and how we need to talk about it.
All of these factors together are a recipe for depression for me. The extreme guilt is something I have always had to deal with as long as I can remember. It leads me down a dark path where I feel as though I am worthless and should not even bother getting out of bed. On top of that, when my relationship with my father is thrown in the mix, my emotions become devastatingly low.
And so, what can I do when I know that I have to face my triggers like I did recently? So far, there is not much that I can do. I cannot always avoid my father’s side of the family. At the very least, my grandparents do not deserve that. They are kind and caring people.
But now that I’m home, I am tired, feeling foggy and fuzzy, and generally down and sad…the usual suspects when I start to get depressed. I am trying to push through it and turn things around, but I am stuck in this mood. I hope that one day I can better handle it when I have to deal with my dad. I hope I can get rid of my constant guilt one of these days. I hope, I hope, I hope. But for now, I have to ask what should I do when I cannot avoid triggers? Do any of you have effective coping mechanisms to share? Leave your comments below if you suffer from bipolar or unipolar depression and have options that work for you (besides medication, which I already take).