Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Flip Side of Bipolar or Depression and Dishes

I've written about mania before, outlining one of my recent manic episodes. Bipolar disorder though, like a coin, has two sides. I've opened myself up a little on here to situational depressive episodes before, but sometimes depression just happens. Sometimes it's just a day, sometimes it's prolonged.

I thought about writing this as I washed my dishes. If you want to know about my depression, you need only look in my sink. Doing dishes is something I dislike anyway, but I get annoyed enough at not having bowls and forks and end up doing them. When I get depressed, I end up with what I just dug out and washed: a mixing bowl from February. I've been working on the sink full for a while, chipping away here and there, but that bowl had to go. It was the primary reason stuff kept piling up. Now, you're probably still stuck on "February" since this is the end of August. I won't lie, it smelled terrible, there was bacteria build up (my whole sink is gross) and I scrubbed and rinsed it twice.

There it is, perched on top
The thing with having a debilitating mental illness is you just stop caring about stuff like dishes. When you can barely muster the energy to eat, washing a dish isn't a priority. Most people would think that the smell and the health hazard present in the bacteria would be a motivator, but it really isn't. If you've ever watched the show Hoarders (it's available for streaming on Netflix) the common theme is that the hoarders get used to the smell, or just don't notice it. You just get used to it. Yes, you catch the occasional whiff, but when you don't care much about anything, you shrug it off.

The hardest part is when the depression starts to lift, and you realize the neglect. Part of my action plan that my therapist and I worked out back when I was still in therapy (the cost is prohibitive when you have no insurance and a very fixed income) was tackling mundane chores, ie; the dishes. As an individual with bipolar disorder, it's very easy to give in to frustration and get overwhelmed, which can send you back on a downward spiral. That's why I am just now getting to a mixing bowl from February. I've been chiseling away, setting small goals: this set on of dishes on this side, the silverware in this cup, these glasses, these bowls. It's slow going, but it keeps me level. I still have a lot to go, because there's still the pots and pans, but that mixing bowl, that was my Goliath.

1 comment:

  1. *hug* I remember being proud of myself for getting 1 chore on my list done... so if I got the laundry one that day, the day was a success. I hope you can keep slowly making those positive steps. I think it's really cool of you to talk about it. I hate the shame and stigma that goes with having a mental illness, it stops so many people from seeking help. Plus the more you talk about it, the easier it is to work through stuff.