A couple of years back I was told by a psychiatrist that I had a psychological disorder, specifically Bipolar Type II. It is a quirk of the mind which—and these are oversimplified explanations—drives an individual into either states of highly elevated energy levels even so far into lessening his need to sleep, yet on the flip side plunges the person into episodes of depression. How severe these occurrences might be of course depends on he himself. Yet of course, none of those who are inflicted by bipolarity wishes to endure the feeling of emptiness, the absence of a sense of purpose and all the symptoms that accompany the affliction. Myself included.
While I personally appreciate the occasional bouts of energy surges, I loathe falling into pits of depression. Thus I had to find some way to minimize stumbling into these holes. Psychiatrists are obviously the first and foremost solution. But medication only goes so far. Sure the pills I take have been, and still are invaluable aids, yet at times the much-loathed depression manages to find a way to strike. These instances indicate that I do have to find another method of guarding myself from depression’s proverbial schemes. And I believe I have found one method that might be somewhat useful to fellow bipolars.
I won’t start speaking of ancient rituals or homeopathic remedies to alleviate the more unpleasant side-effect of Bipolar Type II. Rather, the means I accidentally came upon is quite practical, and could perhaps be somewhat useful to one’s daily life. Basically, it’s work.
Depression often struck me whenever I’m stuck in long periods of boredom. Times that come about whenever summer breaks begin, exceedingly long national holidays (Eid al-Fitr, in Indonesia, when the celebrations could last for weeks), and so on. I would sit in my room, roll around in bed, stare at the ceiling, generally watch the paint dry; all the while feeling absolutely nothing and struggling to find any urge to do whatever could or should be done. With the occasional yearning for a swift end. I need not say more to illustrate how unappealing these mini-chapters of my life are. Therefore I sought after a solution.
After months and months of endless searching without finding anything, I realized that the solution was under my nose all along. Whenever my schedule fills up with work, either academic papers or otherwise, I would find myself leaping from task to task, uncaring for anything else that might be going on outside the bubble that is my workstation.
In those moments of nearly endless work, I would feel something different. Something similar to joy, but not completely alike. Such a feeling would perhaps be best referred to as contentment. A condition wherein I could not fall into the arms of depression. For my mind would not be able to focus on anything but the plethora of duties at hand. From the moment of waking until the bells strike midnight, I would not cease my endeavors. Thus I crowd my mind with objectives unrelated to myself, keeping at bay any negative moods I could possibly experience, and when all the tasks are completed my brain would be far too exhausted to focus on anything other than my bed.
However, simply garnering as much chores as possible is not enough. They have to be both important—in some sense—to ourselves, as well as having some sort of deadline. The first to grant us a sense of satisfaction while attempting to finish the deed, whilst the latter to push us when our frankly unstable minds refuse to conjure up sufficient motivation. These qualities are essential, for when they are absent in the works I have, I find myself uncompelled to exert any effort on them; making college papers ideal candidates for my bipolarity relievers.
Yet no solution is perfect. The imperfection with mine is many. Prime among them are the fact that we cannot constantly find work, and that sometimes the currents of depression are far too strong for us to wade through. And when depression washes over us, few things can be of any aid. To these two issues, there are certain things one could do to solve and prevent them.
For the unavailability of work, it is of utmost importance for us to find organizations—both the ones that pay and don’t—that can always hand out tasks. Preferably ones that are intriguing and varied enough so that we do not see them as fruitless endeavors. Those in academic institutions should not find a shortage of such clubs. Though I sadly cannot say the same of those who are working full-time, and can only help they could find the answer themselves.
As for the times when depression becomes overpowering, seek the protection of others. Specifically those who can tolerate the sudden change in demeanor that we undergo on a random schedule. Another aid that comes to mind are the aforementioned tasks. I have in the past found myself struggling to lift my body out of bed just to keep on failing, yet when a certain duty arose—one that was highly personal and better left unmentioned—I managed to cling onto the fleeting burst of energy, and use it to propel myself for the next few weeks.
I fervently hope that the words I’ve written on this document proves useful to some, as they have been to me. Work to those without type II bipolarity may seem like chores, but for us stuck with this mixture of a blessing and a curse, we might be able to help ourselves by burying ourselves with duties. Alas as there are obvious imperfections in my limited fix, I can only wish that someone brighter than I could conjure up additions or even completely different answers for the bipolarity quandary.