When Bipolar: Experiencing Depression
Written by Jennifer Kiley
Abstract Digital Art by j. kiley
Posted on 03.11.13
I am addicted to film. They are a way of working with depression. I lose myself in films as long as I am able to absorb myself in what I am watching. As of late, I have been having difficulty keeping my attention on anything that I do except when I am working on my creative writing or working on my art work or while reading or doing research all related to the creative work that I am doing.
I hope this is helpful as an inspiration to help entertain & help while feeling depressed. Looking for a way to help release the emotional pain that depression brings on can feel unbearable & leads one many times into a state of depression that carry with it the depths of darkness where suicidal feelings lay in wait to be awakened by the slightest trigger. Once the suicidal thoughts & feelings come to the surface it is most difficult to process or find relief from their destructive nature.
With depression & suicidal thoughts, one needs to learn a method to work through the sensations that are extremely painful or numbing & can make one feel so desperate that death feels like the only answer to eliminating the overwhelming intensity of pain. There is an increasing level of thought that goes through the mind that feels like the devil is sitting on one shoulder and an angel sitting on the other. What choice should you make? It seems often that to kill one’s self pulls at your attention the strongest. You try to think about the ones that you love & would hurt if you killed yourself. But the state of your mind doesn’t always feel that it would matter that much if you were gone. You would miss their love as well as your loving them. Certain people you would feel more of a loss and it hurts you that the love you felt would turn into pain but it isn’t always strong enough to hold you here, Your animals would come to mind & you know there are certain ones that would be lost without you. No one else would understand them or be able to love them the way that you are able to. You would feel awful leaving them alone. Somehow your senses are being pulled so hard to harm yourself. You just want to die. You just can’t feel the way you do any longer, no matter who you were leaving behind.
I let these thoughts & feelings go through me & I experience them all. I write poetry & other writing, like letters to particular people I feel will understand, But often I don’t turn to anyone. When I feel that depressed that I want to die is when I am least able to reach out to anyone. So many times I have tried to call a chat-line for people who want to kill themselves but I have only gotten as far as almost pushing the button but I can never do it. Even calling my psychotherapist is extremely difficult. I go back & forth as to whether I will call her to speak or leave a voicemail. It is hard for me to ask for help when I am feeling that deeply into a depression.
Eventually, the mood is released & I am pulling out of the nose dive & starting to come up again. The feelings of craziness starts to subside. I always feel like I have done something wrong for feeling those feelings. It is the same when I am at the other end of the cycle. When in a manic phase I actually feel crazier when I am excited than when I am wanting to commit suicide. At least when I want to die I am extremely subdued but when I am manic, I act out & I know that I get so wound up that I sound in my own head like I am as mad as the hatter but I cannot help my behavior. I am just a bit off my nut. I get the feeling of whimsy and get extremely poetic. That is when I actually feel like I am getting myself into more trouble & I am causing those I love to think I am more crazy when I am high than when I am depressed & want to die. Either end of the mood cycle I would say that I am a bit off of what is good for me mentally & emotionally. The extremes take me out of my safe zones where I feel I have any control. And control is extremely important to me. I do not like losing it at all. I am afraid to be too real. It may feel real & real may feel connected but it scares the hell out of me to think or feel I may be out of control in any way. Even though, I must admit, when I am free, I feel good in the sense that I am alive whether high on a mania or low in a depression & want to kill myself. At least, I am doing something with my life rather than subduing all the elements that make me act like I am being a human animal with all the thoughts & feelings of being alive & real & being who I really am.
When I am feeling depressed, the things that I choose to come in contact with are usually sad. The movies I watch, art I view, drawings I sketch, poems I write, and music I listen to are all depressing and – at times dark. My therapist wants me to laugh but I want to listen to music that makes me feel what I feel inside. If I am depressed I want to watch a film that is sad or listen to music that is filled with pain or longing. I love the group Evanescence & their song “My Immortal”… It’s about grief and loss. While listening to the song, I feel what the song feels. I listen to a great deal of emotionally raw music b/c I feel connected to it. I love Whitney Houston & I cannot go a day without listening to something that she sings. It seems I am always finding new songs that she recorded that I for some reason have never heard. It makes me feel like she’s still there with me. I just feel really attached to her. Felt that way from the first moment I heard her sing “Greatest Love of All” many years ago before I had any idea who she was. I fell in love with her voice and her. I’ve never stopped caring about her and loving her.
It makes sense to me to want to hear her music. It brings me closer to her. I can feel her with me. That may sound crazy but I need to feel those feelings. Someone wrote that they needed to fully embrace the experience of the depression & the sadness, It brings it to the surface & I feel the fullness of the feelings. I just can’t let those feelings go. The depression comes on me and so does wanting to die. I have to accept that those feelings exist. I, also, have to accept that I do get high on the feelings of the mania. I have all this energy. I am working on both ends of the spectrum and on the middle ground too. It’s a slow process but I am working on it. I need some help. I need my therapist and I need to be able to express what I feel. Most of all I need to know from those people I love that it is okay to be me. To not feel I have to hide what or who I am & to not fear expressing my feelings. I am working on trying to do the good things that will help me with all these mood changes. Maybe someday I will find level ground. I know I don’t want to lose who I am. I need to create. That I can never allow anyone to take away from me ever again. No more messing with my mind, my body, my feelings, which means my heart and my soul. jk the secret keeper
Quotations on Depression:
“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” ― Laurell K. Hamilton, Mistral’s Kiss
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” ― T.H. White, The Once and Future King
“When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wandered off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it’s time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert
“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.” ― David Foster Wallace
“Listen to the people who love you. Believe that they are worth living for even when you don’t believe it. Seek out the memories depression takes away and project them into the future. Be brave; be strong; take your pills. Exercise because it’s good for you even if every step weighs a thousand pounds. Eat when food itself disgusts you. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason.” ― Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression
“Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don’t know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
“If I can’t feel, if I can’t move, if I can’t think, and I can’t care, then what conceivable point is there in living?” ― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.” ― Stephen Fry, Moab Is My Washpot
“Others imply that they know what it is like to be depressed because they have gone through a divorce, lost a job, or broken up with someone. But these experiences carry with them feelings. Depression, instead, is flat, hollow, and unendurable. It is also tiresome. People cannot abide being around you when you are depressed. They might think that they ought to, and they might even try, but you know and they know that you are tedious beyond belief: you are irritable and paranoid and humorless and lifeless and critical and demanding and no reassurance is ever enough. You’re frightened, and you’re frightening, and you’re “not at all like yourself but will be soon,” but you know you won’t.” ― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“Its so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself. That’s above and beyond everything else, and it’s not a mental complaint-it’s a physical thing, like it’s physically hard to open your mouth and make the words come out. They don’t come out smooth and in conjunction with your brain the way normal people’s words do; they come out in chunks as if from a crushed-ice dispenser; you stumble on them as they gather behind your lower lip. So you just keep quiet.” ― Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story
“The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud — the obstacles of life and its suffering. … The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. … Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one. ” ― Goldie Hawn
“Choking with dry tears and raging, raging, raging at the absolute indifference of nature and the world to the death of love, the death of hope and the death of beauty, I remember sitting on the end of my bed, collecting these pills and capsules together and wondering why, why when I felt I had so much to offer, so much love, such outpourings of love and energy to spend on the world, I was incapable of being offered love, giving it or summoning the energy with which I knew I could transform myself and everything around me.” ― Stephen Fry, Moab Is My Washpot
“Killing oneself is, anyway, a misnomer. We don’t kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive. When somebody dies after a long illness, people are apt to say, with a note of approval, “He fought so hard.” And they are inclined to think, about a suicide, that no fight was involved, that somebody simply gave up. This is quite wrong.” ― Sally Brampton, Shoot The Damn Dog: A Memoir Of Depression