The Show Must Go On

“The show must go on.

Inside my heart is breaking.

My makeup may be flaking.

But my smile still stays on.”

Depression and anxiety rip my soul. The wounds are deeper than any that could be made by human hands.

It all came crashing down Labor Day weekend. A medication change did not work. My moods had been fluctuating rapidly and I fell over the cliff into the deepest depression I have experienced in many years. And with this, came anxiety. Regular panic attacks have become my new normal. That and utter despair. Getting out of bed takes a colossal effort. I spend my days on the edge of crying or actually crying. It hurts, physically and mentally. Things that normal people do, like drive a car or go to work, are as scary to me as a horror movie. My brain is a horror movie.

One of the major things to understand about your disordered brain is what triggers emotional responses. Certain situations are very triggering. My biggest trigger right now is work. I work with people, lots of them. And people bring with them drama. I don’t like drama, therefore I don’t like people right now. People can be cruel to each other. Frankly, people suck. I walk in the door at work on the verge of a panic attack. I walk out the door, either actually having a panic attack or thanking the Lord above that I didn’t have one that day. Panic attacks are painful. They cause one to become short of breath and have chest pain. They cause stomach upset. I am chewing Tums like they are the best tasting candy ever made, even though they taste like slightly flavored chalk. I’ll probably develop a kidney stone from my overconsumption of Tums since they are doing nothing to quell the burning pit in my stomach.

A disordered brain is also a brain that cannot think clearly. Memory is very impaired. It makes a person feel drunk, and probably appear drunk. There are times that I cannot remember my name, my birthdate, what year it is, the names of my children, where I live, or how to get there. I struggle to get thoughts from inside my mind expressed, by speaking and by writing. This is actually the fourth or fifth time I have tried to write this post because I couldn’t get the words out. I still don’t feel like I am making much sense. I wonder if this is what dementia feels like.

All of this started with a medication change. One of the worst facets of bipolar disorder is its ability to morph over time. Each person’s brand of bipolar is different, but we all share the common issue of medications losing effectiveness after a period of time. That is why there is a plethora of medications to treat various aspects of the disorder, and its evil friend, anxiety. Unfortunately, changing to a new medication is a crap shoot. It either works or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, the results can be disastrous.

I’ve got to figure out how to cope with this. I am starting therapy, which should help. Drawing helps. Writing helps when I can make sense of my jumbled thoughts.

Through all of this, I am foremost a mom. Thankfully, I have support from my parents to help me manage the children during this time, but they need their mom. They need a functional mom. A mom who provides a safe place for them. So even though I can barely keep my head above water, and my heart is breaking, I still smile for them. Because the show must go on.

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