Enemy of Bipolar

Exhaustion appears to be the enemy of K and perhaps others suffering from bipolar. But I can only speak for K.

Exhaustion sneaks up and takes K unawares until suddenly her reactions are different, she lacks the ability to move, and everything becomes a chore. It limits her ability to fight dysphoric mania and lead a "normal" life.

And yet, it seems everything we do causes exhaustion. Going out of town last weekend, working for the week, visiting with friends on weeknights, celebrating K's birthday last night. Each one of those activities leaves her vunerable and increases my frustration with the illness.

K likes to be rigid and make blanket statements along the lines of "We will not do anything on weeknights." Okay, fine. But, how do we see friends who are busy on the weekends? How do we participate in the neighborhood meetings, which occur during the week? How do we run the errands that we need to complete? Our life cannot be put off until Saturday and Sunday. We also have every other Friday off, but still. . . only so much can be stuffed into that time.

K isn't as rigid as the statement above. Well, she says it, but she doesn't stick to it, since it is too difficult. But one result is that she is exhausted. This weekend especially, even though we only had a three day work week.

The lines between her eyes, which are the bellwether to her mood, deepen. Her face becomes drawn and pale and the freckles more visible. She has difficulty helping around the house. She withdraws and doesn't want to communicate much with the outside world.

We're struggling to live with bipolar. I become angry at K's constraints. Even knowing that she has to take care of herself to manage the illness, I still feel as if I run into a wall when she isn't able to play with me.

My reactions to her illness can also be out of proportion. Frustration and anger make me cry and when I sob my self-control slips and I have hard time stopping. It angers K to see the effect that she has had on the person she loves the most.

Despite these incidents things are good. But I keep hoping that the exhaustion will lessen over time. I believe it has, but the progress is hard to measure on a day-to-day basis. My memory plays tricks on me to try and remember a week ago or month ago. Exhaustion is the biggest block and the greatest danger for us both.


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