Sometimes I just feel numb.
I used to feel this way a lot when I was first put on my cocktail of lithium, Seroquel and Lamictal. I was slow to react and all my emotions had packed up and left. The only one that remained was worry – I’d never feel again.
Of course, the feelings come back. Meds don’t cut them off forever. Those who feel the med-numbage need not worry. You will be able to love and feel creativity again. It just takes a bit of time (how long? Six months for me. But, everyone’s different.) Think of the process like rebooting your computer. Sometimes the screen comes up and you’re STILL waiting for everything to load up. The more you bang away on the keyboard and wave the mouse around, the more it freezes up. So, just ride it out.
That always seems to be the saying for coping with bipolar: Just ride the waves. Yes, the mood changes are like waves and, yes, the only thing you can do is ride them out, but damn,
what I wouldn’t do for a surfboard to just cut through it all. (Wow, I really didn’t mean that to sound like suicide. Ha. I just meant an easier way. Deep underwater, fish don’t feel waves. Maybe that’s the trick.)
If I’m not making sense, it’s because I’m suffering from the form of numbness that only affects me now, shock. Last year for me was a blast. Had a back injury that kept me off work for 6 months, went broke because of it, got shingles because of that, I broke it off with my girlfriend of five years, a friend died, then my close grandmother died. Blah, blah. The point is, you’d think my waves were at tsunami strength, but no, I was Buddha-calm.
I seem to go into this zone that I don’t sense or realize. It’s like business mode. “Oh! It’s the first of the month, gotta pay the rent!” And you do it. That’s where I go. With my grandmother, I sat with her as she literally passed away. That’s major life impacting stuff, being there with your mom through that, then dealing with the funeral planning. And then, of course, going to the funeral, which is always the worse part, being around so many emotional people.
The numbness scares me. I never cried when Grandma passed. Some tears were squeezed out, but only because I had been trying to will my body to do so. The lack of emotion is something you hope for sometimes when you have an illness that is so full of extreme emotions. Hell, I think many without bipolar wished they could turn off high-powered emotions, too. But, when it’s not there at a time when it should be, it scares you. You suddenly become less human, a drone. A robot. You figure something’s broken. How do you materialize the ability to feel emotions if it up and beamed itself out of you?
I tried crying for the fact that I couldn’t cry and it still didn’t work. In fact, I pulled my neck muscle doing it.
But, I’ve been through all this before. When I was young, by grandfather and my dog died a week apart. I was strong for my family, the one saving grace that comes from shock. I stood by and let them all cry on my shoulder. I held their hands. Three months later, I was cleaning my room when I got distracted and opened my atlas at a random spot. I happened to open it to Australia, Grandpa’s favourite country, and I completely shattered into tears. I wept for two hours. Hard.
As much as I hate “riding the waves,” I hate not being able to feel more. The one thing that living with bipolar has done is that I’ve been exposed to a wide spectrum of extreme emotions. I’ve also been torn apart by manic highs and depressive lows at the exact same time. These are the bane of my existence, but I live with it day-to-day. When they’re there, I know I’m alive. So, when the time comes for another major shake-up in my world, I wish I could feel it at that moment so what happened doesn’t feel trivial. So it doesn’t feel fake.
At least I know that in three months, tears can fall without getting whiplash from trying to squeeze them out. They say tomorrow never comes, and they’re right. But when the shock sets in, I look forward to those days when I get the sudden rush back, reminding me that I’m alive and I’m human.