Remember that game from your childhood? The object was to get to the top of the board first. But, there were pitfalls in the form of chutes that could send you down one level or six. But, there were also ladders and if you were lucky enough to land there you could skip a few levels or six. Considering the game board had 10 levels, those times you were lucky enough to hit a six level ladder put you sitting pretty. But, that six level chute could put you far far behind.
I’m not the first person to compare bipolar to chutes and ladders, and I won’t be the last. I may not even be the best. And that’s fine. But, I’m on a chute now, and I don’t know how many levels I’m going to go down.
A lot of the times the mood shifts that bipolar causes are like the roll of the dice. There aren’t any triggers, or stressors, or anything that your constantly running brain can find for the change in mood. You simply got a roll of the dice that sent you up a ladder into hypomania or mania, or you got a roll of the dice that sent you down a chute into depression.
Because a lot of the time the mood shifts aren’t generated by anything external at all. I’m currently on a chute on my way to depression, but there is no external reason for it that I can find at all. No triggers, no stressors, no one has said or done anything to set me off. Even my OCD is holding steady. Yet, down I go.
I’ve experienced the ladders as well. Last week even. No reason. My sleep was the same, my meds were the same. But up up up I went. And for a couple of hours it was great. I love hypomania at the beginning. I got a ton of stuff done, really fast. But, as is usually the case with me and hypo, aggravation set in rather quickly. And then, even the sound of another human being’s voice sets me on edge (if I’m able to control it) or sends me over an edge of extreme anxiety and irritation (if I’m not able to control it).
Chutes and Ladders is a very simplistic way to describe a very complicated condition, I know. But it struck me because sometimes it is as simple as “no reason” (roll of the dice) for the mood changes.
It’s hard for our loved ones to understand that this morning we were happy and this afternoon we’re not. For them, there is a reason that their moods change. Even if it is as simple as not getting enough sleep, there is a reason. I hate answering the question “why are you so down now when you were good this morning?” when the reason is that bipolar disorder decided that I am going to be down now. No, no reason.