A Sense of Dread: Bipolar Disorder

A sense of dread bipolar disorder Amy Dodd Pilkington

I have an overwhelming sense of dread. My mind is convinced I am standing on the edge of a precipice, and life keeps giving me reasons why this is justified. I’ve told a select few people (and now the world, I guess) that I feel like I am on borrowed time and won’t be here in five years. I recently backed that down to two.

Perhaps I will make it past those self-imposed expiration dates. Perhaps I won’t. Regardless of the outcome, my mind is reeling and my mental health is suffering. Why? My mind is strongly convinced that it is counting down to the end.

Trying to find peace with a sense of dread

My life is complicated. It’s far too complicated to comfortably endure for decades on end. My mind struggles at times to find reasons why I should keep going. It comes up blank on far too many days. There is very little I actually enjoy. There are only things that help me waste time if I force myself to partake in the activity. My anxiety is through the roof.

Let me be clear. I am not suicidal. I am simply struggling to answer the age-old question of why I’m here and what’s my purpose and I keep coming up empty. If everything has a reason and a purpose, then there must be some reason why I am stuck like this, right? Wrong. There is no reason. There is no purpose. There is only madness and this heavy sense of dread. It weighs on me.

Suicidal people don’t want to die

Of course, those who do not understand what it’s like to be mentally ill or, more specifically, to be suicidal do not understand. “If you want to die, why do you care if you’re really dying?” I have been asked this question in the past when I spoke about struggling with the idea of mortality and mid-life crises. It certainly adds to my sense of dread. Let me tell you why.

Being suicidal doesn’t mean you want to die. It’s quite the opposite. A suicidal person is desperately trying to find ways not to die. A suicidal person is in a lot of pain. Emotional pain hurts as much as physical pain. Imagine being in unbearable physical pain and not getting any kind of relief. You don’t want to die. You just want the pain to stop. Death is the last resort to get the pain to stop. It’s like that.

Unbearable pain causes suicidal thoughts

I’ve been suicidal in the past. While I was suicidal, I expressed a fear of dying in some specific manner. I had a person ask why I cared how I died. Suicidal or not, I care how I die. Why? Pain, for one. Also, there are things worse than death. Failed attempts in certain manners can leave you with a life that’s not worth living. Imagine being terribly disabled and completely dependent on others. Then you are stuck with no way out regardless of the pain and no quality of life.

I don’t want to die young. I never did even when I was suicidal. I wanted relief. That’s a very different thing. Of course, some people would argue that I am past the age of dying young. Regardless, my point is that suicidal people don’t want to die. They just want the pain to stop. The pain becomes so bad that it isn’t bearable. It is the only option they feel is left for getting the pain to stop. That’s why people commit suicide – to end the unbearable pain.

Sense of dread: Physical health affects my mental health

Anyway, I have strayed far from the original intent of this post. In January of this year, I spent time in two different hospitals and had two different procedures within a week. The year started off crappy and the fun keeps coming. I have felt awful (physically) all year. I’ve had odd symptoms on top of my normal crappy stuff that has made for some miserable days. These symptoms are what caused my sense of dread.

I finally broke down and went to my doctor. I avoid the doctor as much as possible, so that says exactly how bad I’ve felt. It looks like I might be in for another round of fun. I have felt like my quality of life was deteriorating and that has caused mental health issues. This doesn’t help. It’s one more thing that is going to make me miserable for a while.

Trying to deal with multiple issues and a sense of dread

I know some of you are thinking, “But, Amy. It’s just for a little while.” These things keep coming. It’s one thing after another. It seems those “little whiles” are frequent and getting back to my crappy normal takes most of the time between those “little whiles.”

Again, I am not suicidal. I am rolling all these things around in my head and trying to find things that make my quality of life seem better than what it actually is. I struggle to find things I enjoy to make the days worthwhile, but I am not suicidal. I am simply going through the stages of coping I developed to keep me from becoming suicidal.

Working the steps of my personal crisis plan

Stages, you say? Yes. This is one of many stages built into my crisis plan. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s a plan to keep me from getting to the crisis stage. When I blogged as atorturedsoul, I spent a couple of years analyzing moods and triggers. I took a lot of time to figure out how to identify changes that pointed to potential problems. This helped me develop a list of things to watch for and ways to try to combat the deeper depression.

I have a range that I consider stable. I had been close to the bottom of that range. This leaves me teetering on the edge and places me further down on the list than I care for. I am not in crisis mode. I am not suicidal. It feels like I cannot stress that enough. I know my stages; this is just a stage that means I could be headed toward a crisis and need to act to prevent it. It’s preventative, and it’s important but not a crisis.

Avoid a major depressive episode with bipolar disorder

So, here I am once again dealing with an additional load of medical crap on top of the undiagnosed crap I am already saddled with and it feels unfair. Why should I have to deal with a ridiculous amount of crap? And then I feel guilty for thinking that when others have it worse than I. Then I remember it is important for me to accept that my feelings are valid and find ways to deal with these feelings to keep from falling into crisis mode.

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♫ ‘Cause I just feel so tired
Like it’s move or slowly die
You say, you ain’t you when you’re like this
This ain’t you and you know it
But ain’t that just the point? ♫

I feel like there is no win here. All of this is out of control and just one more thing to deal with. It’s one more thing on top of too many things. I’m tired of things. I’m just tired. This leaves me struggling to find the energy to deal with it all, but I am working through the steps and stages and staying afloat. I’m just tired of feeling like I’m going to start taking on water soon. I’m at the edge, but I am working through my crisis plan to avoid a major depressive episode with bipolar disorder.

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