As someone who has rapid cycling and who experiences many “highs” and “lows” it is important to figure out the best way to use/save my energy. When I am feeling low, I have no energy and I don’t want to do anything. I have no motivation, I am disinterested in everything, I can’t focus or concentrate and I am not productive. I hate how I look and feel terrible.

When I am experiencing a hypomanic episode, I have energy, I want to be productive and I feel great. As my mood is switching back, the energy fades away. I must learn to pace myself and not overdo it during the hypomanic episodes, so that I have some energy leftover.

I also need the people in my life to understand that I can’t do certain tasks/”projects” until I am ready/in the mood to do it. If I don’t want to do it, don’t ask me about it, talk about it, make plans etc. It will get done when it gets done and when I am able to. It may take a very long time, but that’s okay. I want them to realize that I have to do things at my own pace and to just let me be. The nicest thing you can do for me is let me be me and don’t question the pace at which I do things.

Don't stop

And, in order for me not to be angry with myself, or disappointed with myself, I need to be okay with imperfection. Why do I say this? Because I wish I was more easy going about certain things, and could learn to relax.

I would love my home office to have perfectly organized cupboards, bookcases and a desk/desk drawers, but it’s still a little disorganized. It’s a big improvement from how it was though. Last weekend, an idea popped into my head that I had to organize the drawers/baskets under the sink in bathroom, my jewellery and get rid of all the boxes in my office. What was in the boxes in my office? Gifts from our engagement party and my bridal showers. When was my engagement party? Last June.

I must digress for a moment and explain that once an idea is in my head, if I want to do whatever that activity is, I must do it, so I can take advantage of that energy and motivation! There’s no stopping me, and the task must be completed, or I can’t sleep and don’t want to leave my condo. This “drive” always happens in a hypomanic state, which explains the energy. Conversely, organizing things makes my very hyper and can bring me into a hypomanic state.

I kept putting off dealing with those boxes because it meant reorganizing the kitchen in order to find room for these new items and it meant making decisions about where to put these items. It was a big undertaking for me. I am proud to say there are no more boxes of gifts in my office and I was successful with all of my organizing goals last weekend. It may have taken over a year to deal with the majority of the presents but it’s done. My desk and bookshelves are still “messy” in my view, but the office floor is visible, there are no more hazards and I can now say my office is “presentable” and be more comfortable with people seeing it. 

Of course, my office was never “unpresentable” according to other people, it just wasn’t up to my standards, and I felt it was a bad reflection on me and was worried people would question why my office looked like a storage unit. My fear was that I would be judged. I like to think that I don’t care what about others think, but in some instances I do. In this instance, I was concerned that the “box issue” would  cause people to ask or wonder, “What’s wrong with her? She can’t put things away? Those boxes were there the last time we came over.” I think my negative thinking was getting the best of me and my thought process was something along the lines of:

Messy Office–>”Something Wrong”(a.k.a. mental illness) –> Guests interpret as lazy/as a result of mental illness–> Guests associate this behaviour with mental illness–> Stigma

To those thoughts I now tell myself, “So what? It’s none of their business” and “You are not your illness.”

This reminds me of one of my favourite quotes by Dr. Seuss:

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Your true friends really don’t mind if your bed is unmade, your laundry isn’t put away and your dishwasher isn’t emptied.

Anthony Hopkins

About Melanie Luxenberg

My name is Melanie Luxenberg and I am finally ready to live openly with mental illness. I was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2003, which I still experience. At the same time, I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety (which I also still experience), and then briefly experienced Agoraphobia. I have had depression on and off since I was 13 years old. In July 2010 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II. Shortly after it was realized that I experienced rapid cycling. I can experience multiple cycles in a week. Despite my diagnosis, I completed a university degree and then a college program. I have always held stable employment, regularly taken my medication and regularly attended my doctor’s appointments. There have been times of hopelessness, but I have always found support from my family, husband and 3 dogs. I am a law clerk, social media/content writer and of course, mental health advocate. My Twitter feed is full of mental health advocacy messages. I hope one day to see the end of stigma towards mental illness, because stigma has to stop!

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