…. I look like I just got out of bed. My hair is in a ponytail with those crazy sprigs making that fuzzy weird look that happens when I haven’t had time to shower. I’m wearing sweatpants – not the yoga pants that are almost acceptable at work now – the full on sweatpants that even the most uncool won’t wear outside of their house anymore. I’m wearing my most comfortable sweatshirt. It is the one that I’ve had for a long time, that a friend gave to me, and that I’m pretty sure will stay with me until I die. Even though the ends of the sleeves are unraveling and breaking apart, I find comfort in the worn-out inside that makes me feel like me.
These are the days in the counseling office when we pick apart the scariest parts of my brain. The scary is mostly caused by chemistry and impacts energy. The energy changes that come with the ups and downs of a bipolar brain can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Although I have some sense of seasonal impact, I really do not know when a change could happen.
Most people think that the scariest part of mental health are the low energy times. In fact, for most people high energy times are much worse. The brain races along faster than we can catch our thoughts. We open businesses, agree to too much, and talk super fast. We might not even be able to listen to you because your words are not coming out fast enough for us. We interrupt, speak for you, and often misunderstand what you really meant.
Another common misconception is that low energy and sadness go hand in hand. This is simply not true. While they can co-exist, they are two separate entities. Depression/low energy is not really a bad mood. It is simply low energy. Imagine influenza with the headache and fatigue. That is low energy. The DSM might have depression in the mood category, but I think it is wrong. Sadness is a feeling, and that can happy in a high energy time or a low energy time. Feelings and energy are different.
I digress – back to the counseling office.
On other days, I show up looking like I may head to the beach. I’m wearing the shirt that makes me feel the most like me. This past summer I wore the same shirt to all of my counseling sessions. I bought it when I was on a trip to Rhode Island for a wedding in May. Somehow I had under-packed and needed more clothes. Having to go to the store and find a couple of shirts that would look OK in the various occasions that I had to attend is one of the worst things that I could need to do. On rare occasion, though, I find things in stores that scream me.