Feeling irritable and restless are just a couple of the signs that your mood may be plummeting
By Julie Fast
Depression can make us weepy, sad, and needy—but did you know it can also make us really irritated, unloving, and restless? So many of my relationship problems stemmed from the negative filters of depression. I didn’t even know that I was an incredibly positive person until my depression was brought under control.
Sign #1: Irritation. Irritated depression makes me kick and punch things, have terrible road rage, see the dirt of the world instead of the beauty, and experience the most caustic, negative, and judgmental thoughts you can imagine. It’s awful. I’m a witch. It’s as though I put on negativity glasses and the lenses make it impossible for me to think a nice thought or say a nice word.
Sign #2: Can’t feel love. Weepy depression takes away my ability to enjoy the people I love. Instead, I worry about their health, whether they love me, or if I am going to lose them. Unloving depression is the opposite. I don’t feel the love! I just want them out of my life because they are such a bother. I left my first husband during an unloving depressive episode. I thought I didn’t love him. I woke up one day and my love was just gone. This was almost 10 years before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I had no idea it was a symptom, and we were both very, very confused as to how my feelings could change overnight.
Sign #3: Restlessness. When restless depression shows up, I sometimes feel like my organs are crawling out of my skin. Nothing feels right. There isn’t a table in paradise or a couch in the greatest house in the world that feels good. I can’t sit, I can’t work, I can’t enjoy a movie when this depression is around. I drive around in circles and constantly change what I’m doing. Everything feels wrong.
How did I change? To answer that, I want to tell you a story. More than 20 years ago, I went to a concert with a friend. I was in fine irritable form. I can see it now: I complained about the parking, the sound, the number of steps up to the venue, the weather, and anything else that was on my mind. I had no filter, and no idea that I was in an episode. My friend turned to me and said, “Your negatively is killing me and I can’t take it any more. I am done.” She was. Our relationship ended that night.
My friend unknowingly gave me a nugget of information on my path to wellness. But I still couldn’t pinpoint why I acted so up and down. I was not in control of my moods and because of this, I could not control my negativity. I wasn’t negative when I was younger; this was rather new behavior. I finally got my answer when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Once I learned to manage my depression, I learned to manage its negativity as well.
Caveat: If you also have signs of mania, such as rapid speech, significantly less sleep without feeling tired, and an increase in dangerous activities along with these three signs of depression, this describes dysphoric mania. This is quite different from what I call “negativity” depression and needs to be discussed with your health-care provider.
Here is a script you can use when you recognize that depression’s negativity is taking hold:
I’m sorry I was just snappy with you. My bipolar disorder is getting to me today and making me negative and unfeeling. I don’t want to be this way. I could use your help. My goal is to stay positive even when my thoughts are negative. I will not take my depression out on you. If you hear me say something nasty, mean, or unkind, please remind me that depression is talking and I can focus on ending my depression instead of taking my illness out on the world.
I have a challenge for you: If you think this article makes even a small amount of sense, show it to someone who knows you and ask them to be honest. Ask: “Do I seem more irritable/unloving/restless to you?” Expect to feel angry when they say yes … and then do something about it. That’s what I did.
Printed as “Fast Talk: Three Unexpected Signs of Bipolar Depression”, Winter 2017
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community
Julie A. Fast