So have you ever experienced what it’s like to feel elated and despairing at the same time? Wanting to jump for joy and in the next moment sad and crying over nothing big? I have. In bipolar jargon it’s part of what’s called a “mixed state” and for me it can cause me to go around in circles trying to find myself. It’s sort of like PMS on steroids. That’s the closest thing I can associate it with from my experience. Planning is key and although I do it well I have also failed spectacularly. And speaking of experience…
I know whereof I speak. I have had a meltdown at Disneyland. Yes, in the happiest place on earth, my bipolar still took over and I managed to break down and cry at the stress of trying to be perfect. I had it planned to every degree. It was ridiculous. I wanted every activity to go perfectly. Every picture to be perfect. Every memory to be perfect. And some of them were, but there were more than one where my need to feel successful in pulling off “The Perfect Great Vacation” overruled some of the joy and detracted from the experience. At one point I literally sat in a corner and cried while my family wandered off and played for a while because it just became too much for me to manage while simultaneously feeling elated they/we were having this amazing experience. It still saddens me when I know my kids have those moments as part of their memories but I know they’ve long forgiven me.
Since then I’ve learned a few things about going with the flow but I still like dependability and consistency at home (it helps to make up for the lack of it at work sometimes) and am a planning wizard when we go on vacation. Seriously, I can whip out spreadsheets full of supplies and timelines for activities like the badass project manager I am. I now intentionally plan in wiggle room and know in advance that things are going to go differently than planned at times and that doesn’t make them bad, just different, and that’s okay.
Mixed states make it harder for me to regulate and if I’m in one I’ve got techniques I use now to help push back the negative feelings and thoughts that arise. I’ve also learned to question my “high” thoughts to make sure I’m on the right track and not overreaching for a goal that is unrealistic.
In short, I’ve gotten better at being better. And that, my friends, is my entire goal.