The Day I Decided to be God
My last bipolar depression was in 2010. Bipolar depression is not the same as depression. It does not respond easily to medication. I had just re-married in January 2010 after 20 years of living through the trauma of divorce and sudden endings to relationships because of my manic and depressive behavior. I “should” have been happy after my wife and I married, but depression has nothing to do with “happy circumstances”. It is an illness and part of the cycle of someone who has a mood disorder. There was one thought in mind during the first 10 months of my marriage: how can I end the pain? One fantacy was to start walking into the desert here in Southern California with no food or water and let nature slowly kill me. I imagined buzzards flying over my rotting corpse and not being found for years, if ever. The other was suffocation when I actually tried putting a plastic bag over my head to see if it fit one sunny afternoon. I did that while I sitting on the balcony of our home with a backdrop of the beach and wide blue Pacific Ocean. I couldn’t see the beauty of the setting, the love of my new wife, the love of my children and grandchildren. Logic and religion did not matter. I had no right to kill others, so why would I have the right to kill myself?
By the numbers: as many as one in five patients with bipolar disorder completes suicide, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. That is 15-17% of the 5.7 million adult Americans, or about 2.6% of the U.S. population age 18 and older every year making it the number one cause of premature death among people with bipolar disorder. The illness results in 9.2 years’ reduction in expected life span, largely due to lifestyle choices such as smoking and poor nutrition.
Bipolar disorder depression is dis-heartening. There are subtle differences between unipolar and bipolar depression. Symptoms include higher rates of psychomotor retardation (involves a slowing-down of thought and a reduction of physical movements in an individual. Psychomotor retardation can cause a visible slowing of physical and emotional reactions, including speech and facial expressions. One has greater difficulty thinking, more early morning awakening, more morning worsening of mood and more frequent psychotic symptoms such as suicidal ideation and delusions in bipolar depression relative to unipolar depression.
The depression those unbearable 10 months in 2010 was medication-resistant. Finally, my psychiatrist tried a new one on the market and it worked in less than a week. One tiny pill each morning stabilized my mood and gave my wife back the man she married one January night.
Whenever I’m depressed I cannot remember a time when I was not depressed. When I’m not depressed, I can’t remember the moments over-shadowed by dread of living one more hour. It seems to be automatic amnesia for those of us with BP. Thank God that at this moment I feel “normal”. How long will it last? A lot depends on self-care such as sufficient sleep, exercise and adequate nutrition.
To win you have to make a move.
Knowing which move to make comes with IN-SIGHT
and knowledge, and by learning the lessons that are
accumulated along the way. We become each and every piece within the game called life!”
--Allan Rufus, The Master's Sacred Knowledge
When I die, I don’t want someone to ask how I died. I want them to ask how I lived.
Tom Roberts is author of Escape from Myself: A Manic-Depressive’s Journey to Nowhere