321….BLAST OFF! I am back. Just like a flip of the switch. Last Tuesday I was planning my demise. I was distraught, hopeless. The outpatient program I attend was threatening to call the police based on an email I sent. I reluctantly wandered to an evening process group and that’s when it all changed. I was so shut down, unable to identify what my feelings were much less communicate them. Lost in my head I was believing the lies. Spiraling down further into the darkness I thought my only escape was suicide. But, my magical psychologist opened me up. I could hear his words. His words of forgiveness, self compassion seeped into me. So much so, the very next day I had a bit of a skip in my step.
Suddenly I could listen to Christmas Carols and enjoy them. I wanted to wrap the few gifts I got my family. I could feel myself laughing unconsciously. I looked at my husband and actually saw him. That’s how Bipolar is for me..swoops in and knocks me down for a long time, then one day goes about its merry way. But always, always hiding in the wings.
I am back in the trenches, as they say. I returned to work. I am only part time for the month of January. It will be challenging for me to adhere to the only 20 hours per week my pdoc has recommended. My job is fast paced, deadline driven, and sometimes pressure filled. If you add my perfectionism to the top of the work sundae it will eventually collapse. Its far too heavy and far too big. But, I have a new philosophy which I have written about in the past. Before it was just an idea, a thought. Its now time to put my money where my mouth is. I have a whole new approach towards work. The basic headline is: throw yourself in, do the best you can, log your 8 hours and DONE. I need to back away and think of it as just a job, not who I am. That doesn’t mean I don’t care, because I do tremendously. It just means its only a part of me, and it takes up only a part of my life. No more round the clock rumination about work. No more allowing mistakes to become bigger than they are. I would just like to be mindful with every step I take.
Sitting at my desk wading through 350 emails I made the conscious choice to breathe through the process. So much had changed with the projects I oversee. After 3 months it makes sense that I would be completely out of the loop. I often feel like I am fighting my own mind and this is a prime example. I was fighting thoughts that I was too sick, bipolar has made me too sick, to essentially get caught up to speed. I am no longer capable to do this job.
But, my coworkers reminded me why I work there. They are such great people. I got a few hugs. Lots of smiles. Lots of welcome back. It wasn’t terribly awkward. I do have one coworker who is in recovery and has a brother with mental illness. When she expressed concern for me and that she hoped all was okay, I felt comfortable sharing my “secret.” I closed her office door and said the words, I have pretty severe bipolar disorder. When it comes, it really takes me out. I didn’t get into details. She was understanding and shared some things about her brother and that she has another friend who is a professor. I thought, wow a Professor. I think I have my own stigma around bipolar disorder sometimes. Why not a professor? Why not me?
In just a short week I got myself together and was able to return to work on the target date. I honestly didn’t think I could do it. I was still lost in the depths of depression and the thought of being around coworkers and facing expectations and deadlines seemed impossible. But, I made. I really made it. Granted its only been a few days and its quiet with the holidays, but its important for me to acknowledge perseverance and the willingness to fight.