Pain, anger, frustration, sadness. They bubble underneath the center of my sternum just waiting to be acknowledged. Other times a quick trigger initiates a tidal wave without warning. Darkness hits like a freight train. I feel it all. But then what?
Before I knew I was bipolar in my early twenties, the intensity of my feelings totally overwhelmed me. I was unmedicated, unaware and uneducated about my illness. Strong emotions swept me right away with them. A genuinely sensitive person, my sensory inputs would overload. The strategies I employed did not work. Fight, flight, freeze or drown in alcohol. I reached crisis mode often without the proper tools to deescalate, to sooth me. The down emotions hurt me a lot.
After treatment my medication helped settle those strong emotions a bit. Of course they are still there. That’s a part of who I am and I appreciate that. Its also a part of everybody. Through therapy and awareness practice I began to notice. To identify feelings when they come on. To reach out if I need help sorting through them. To pinpoint what could be causing the pain. And possible solutions.
Sometimes it’s a simple case of changing frame, looking at the situation differently. Sometimes after talking to a trusted confidant or two I come to see that a distressing thought is an overreaction. Sometimes though there are real problems with no real solutions. Other times there’s no identifiable issue. With each case comes a different approach to moving through it.
After careful consideration I become comfortable in the darkness. In the end, no matter what though, I just keep going. Moving towards the things that matter to me. When handled with great care, eventually my sun creeps back in and the darkness evaporates around me.