Living with bipolar disorder is like riding an emotional roller coaster. There are highs and there are lows. I've just come down from mania and I went through a period of depression. Now, there are personal life circumstances that have enhanced the depressive episode for me. However, it doesn't matter because I am honoring the fact that I am feeling depressed. Finally, I'm feeling some relief from that depression, but it isn't an ideal sort of respite.
I feel numb.
I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I feel this way. There's no shame in feeling empty. My brain and my body are tired. I accept that this is the way it is. I'm not a fan of numbness (I don't know who is) but I know that these uncomfortable feelings will pass. In some ways, it's better than feeling depressed or low.
When I feel depressed, I have limited control over what I can do for myself. My feelings consume over me like a cloud of black smoke and all I can do is try to manage these emotions the best that I can.
What does that mean?
It means that I let these feelings be. I acknowledge my sadness and know that it will leave me when it is time to go. Sure, it's unpleasant to feel depressed, but once I accept that it isn't forever I feel a little bit better. That feeling of relief is enough to keep me going. And I need to continue living my life.
Does that mean that I have to pretend to be happy?
Absolutely not and I don't recommend that to anyone who is coping with a depressive episode. Feel those feelings and honor them. You have a right to feel sadness. The most important thing to recognize during these times is that these feelings WILL pass and you will feel happiness some day. I know from personal experience that there is hope after a depressive episode.
That's the thing about depression is that it is episodic, meaning that it is temporary. That has been my experience. If you continue to feel depressed symptoms for a prolonged period of time, I highly recommend that you speak to a medical professional about these symptoms
What does numbness mean?
Feeling empty or numb for me means that I need to rest and take care of myself. I listen to those feelings and follow what my mind and body are telling me. It's similar to feeling physical pain in the body. Pain is a signal that something in your body needs to shift and change. Listen to your body and see what you can do to help that change along. The same goes for emotional changes in your life. When you feel low or even numb, that's a signal to your mind that something needs to change. You can figure out what that is. Your therapist can assist with what to do next in order to start feeling better.
Whether you're experiencing depression and/or numbness (because in my experience they can co-occur) listen to what your mind and body need and follow that intuitive path. You'll find the answers that way; I know I do.