Scared, but back

I am slowly turning human again. A human that has to live in the dark, yes, but human nonetheless. But I don’t feel well. And I start a new job this week, and my first night is a 30 hour shift.

I really wish I had tried to delay starting by another month. But no one forced me to, and I’ll always punish myself if I can, so I said I’d start. Never mind that I am worn down. My mood now is nearing normal. Does the fact that I just went through four months of hell make a difference? It is hard to say. On a practical level, there are many things I neglected during that time that all need attention. This makes me busier. And lying in bed for weeks on end does not do much for one’s physical shape. But I suppose I am back to something resembling health.

My question is something like this: after a severe mood episode, is one expected to be back to normal once the mood is more or less stabilized? The symptoms are gone now – so one should go back to full function, right? And the drugs will only work better as time goes on, since I’ve been taking them for less than two weeks – things should only improve as they kick in. I should be fully functional right now.

But I feel like I am standing on terribly shaky legs. I am not sure if my strength is there underneath or not. Though all my symptoms are mostly gone and nothing is wrong with me now, the proximity of the episode, the loss of control, the fear and the pain, the horror of how hard and fast I could fall, did fall, seem to be near. My usually unstoppable confidence, boldness, fearlessness are not back yet. I still feel like the real me is lost.

I wish one of the doctors involved had stepped in and told me, recommended strongly, that I take more time. But, of course, I in my stubbornness, my denial of this illness, my refusal to allow it space in my life, made it almost impossible for anyone to say such a thing, even for my own good. But I wish that one of them had been big enough to brave my rage, to trample the independence they give me out of the deference for my profession. I probably would have been angry. Definitely would have. I might not have listened. Probably wouldn’t have.

But I might have. Then I could have taken the break gracefully, blaming them for making me take something that I myself am unable to admit that I need. Sometimes people do need to be saved from themselves.

Who knows? Maybe moving on as quickly as possible, acting like nothing happened, is better. Sometimes I think back and count up the months and the years that this has sucked from my life, and it horrifies me. Depending on how I count, often, the years taken away are more than the years I have had. Maybe that alone is a good enough reason to run back into a full schedule as soon as I can.


What do you think? What do you do? When the episode lifts, do you rush to embrace your life again, or do you enter timidly? The episode seems to have vanished, and the wake left behind is invisible, internal, so much so that only you know it is there. Is it enough to rock you?



  1. I can relate to your fear, your doubts. I think that what you are asking is something that is personal, and would differ from person to person, depending on their circumstances. How much time does a person need after an episode?

    For some, it is best to return to “normal” as quickly as possible. For others, there needs to be time, a period of healiing, a period to recover and make sense of what has happened.

    I think I am more like you in the sense that I often try to jump right back into things after an episode. Sometimes I’ve been told to rest a bit, give it more time, and I have stubbornly refused.

    Sometimes too, people have expected me to jump right back into things, as if nothing has happened at all.

    It’s really hard to say. But I do hear you, and I do understand the self doubt. At the same time, I think you are strong enough to go back in there and do your best.

    Just make sure you go easy on yourself.
    Polar Bear

  2. Hi,

    I’m at a loss as to what to say….
    I know we need time to be ready, I get this question from my hubby
    ” are you ready t work?”
    I answered… ” will I ever be ready?”
    I lived with this horrible mood roller coaster.

    I am starting a new job on Friday, I am scared.
    I feel confident in the day ” Yes! I can do it!” I shout!
    And now at 12 MN…. I wonder and i get fearful and i get paranoid about whether I will get a mental breakdown.

    Anyway, if you decide to go back to work, hang in there! you can do it!

  3. i think i can understand a little of what you are going through. Before last September, i had “decompensated “badly, off and on, for 3 years, hospitalized several times, bad cutting and od-ing (on pills and etoh)….then, i would come home from one of the short hospital stays, “pretend” all was well, then the cycle would start all over again. i’m not really sure what is different this time…i am still very anxious and have the cycling mood thing and a good part of the time, i feel as if i am “faking” it,…maybe i am doing a little better because i found a psychiatrist/therapist who has helped me alot, maybe it’s because i so much want to finish the class i am taking…i really don’t know. It just seems if i am involved i a project i really care about, it helps keep me “out of trouble,” so to speak….does any of this make sense…? If so, you are certianly waaaay ahead of me!
    Best with work, i know you will do fine, but it is hard to look back on such a horrible time of your life and wonder “am i just supposed to pick up from here?” “What about all the time that has gone by, what do i do about it?”
    Be well, tracy

    ps i still get so scared things will get really bad again…..

  4. “if i am involved i a project i really care about, it helps keep me “out of trouble,” so to speak…”

    This certainly is true. What I don’t know about is “What if I am involved in project I hate?” Though I guess there have been times like that too, major episode and shitty life – that last work trip,for example, and I’ve managed.

    And we all get scared about how bad things can get.

  5. If you can do it, do it. I just came out of my worst mania ever. I was terrified to take on the mainstream, but it all worked out.

  6. Heya…
    what happened with the shrink? waiting for updates…

    also, how do you find the shift work effecting you and your med schedule?

  7. Shit. I should update. The shrink got a lot better since I am better medicated lol.

    Shift work has been hell, except that sleep deprivation makes me high a little more – the high:depressed ratio shifted nicely. It also gives me a lot of “Stay off the roof” moments.

    I also miss a lot of meds because you just lose track of time/days. I am working on a better system, because it is VERY VERY BAD when I do that.

    I need to post again, yes.

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