I read somewhere once that depression and mania can damage memory. But I don’t remember where I read it.
There are quite a lot of articles about this found through Google — here’s one if interested — and it’s kind of depressing on it’s own. Google “memory loss from Bipolar” sometime and have fun reading. (Can you sense my sarcasm?)
Some days it’s really challenging to get words to come forward in my head. I’ll be stumbling through a conversation with my mother about whatever, and I can’t recall the word I need. Like sponge. Or eggs. Or laundry. I swear after having so many depressed episodes I’ve weakened some part of my brain involved in recall. So many of my memories are gone. My husband gives me quizzical looks when I don’t remember certain things I’ve done or places we’ve visited. And I’m envious of the memory some of my friends have. They remember so many details of times spent together, and I’m a blank page.
It is what it is. And it seems to go hand in hand with the question “why didn’t I get what they got?” This isn’t a pity party. I’m just contemplating the genetic soup that we are made of, and why for those of us with Bipolar it is hit and miss. No matter how I try, I’m just not the person who can get by successfully with six hours of sleep, shuffle the responsibility of a job, motherhood, wife-hood, housekeeper, cook, dog walker, and accomplishing goals for myself. Honestly, who are these people that do this? So many folks are out there, succeeding in the world, making it look effortless, while I have days where, even though I’m running in circles “doing it all” I have to do the bare minimum. Perhaps I never found the time to get a shower. Or the two baskets of laundry didn’t get folded. Or the kitchen looks like a tornado hit it. And the dogs still need a walk, and dinner is scrambled eggs because I didn’t make it to the store, and I forgot to pay that bill again for the fifth day in a row, and that inspiration I had to paint for 15 minutes (HA!)…you get the idea.
For so many years I compared myself to these super humans. I figured I should be doing all the same things, hitting these milestones in life. And granted, maybe if I had my diagnosis sooner than 40 I would have had a bit more success with some things.
But now I’ve learned I can’t compare. I can be ticked off sometimes that I didn’t hit the genetic lottery, and that’s okay. I acknowledge it quickly and move on. Instead I must embrace what I’ve been given, and work with what I’ve got. I do need 8-9 hours sleep on average. I do wake up mentally “off” if my sleep has been poor. I do get foggy headed some days. I do have poor memory sometimes. I do get fatigued mid day. I do have to chart my moods daily. And for as much as I take supplements, eat healthy-ish, exercise, and all the other good-for-me stuff, my body still operates this way.
But you know, my health, my quality of life, and my outlook is 100% better than before my diagnosis. Because now that I do get the sleep I need, and take care of my health pretty well, it’s at least brought some of my better qualities to the foreground instead of having them lost like they were for so long before managing my Bipolar. I’m sure many of you can say the same thing.
I just have to remind myself on the days that I am exhausted or foggy and have made grilled cheese and tomato soup again for dinner, that I do have some pretty great traits that make me quite special. It’s not easy some days, but I hold tight to those little positive gems. I hope you remember to do the same. I believe that’s our glimmer of hope. The beautiful little things we rediscover about ourselves only help to strengthen us, keep us on the path to wellness, and inspire more greatness within us.
Here’s to our genetic soup!
(And thank you to Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist for his inspiring posts!)