I haven't posted in a while and this will be brief. When I'm doing fairly well, I feel more inclined to engage in the logistics of life--you know, catch up on bills, make lofty plans to organize my house and paperwork, and so forth--rather than probe the destructive intricacies of my brain or despair at the purposelessness of my life or of the universe.
So how come I am doing ok right now? Urgency. I have a project that has outside accountability and a time constraint, and requires organizing but little executing, and is finite in nature. Most importantly, it provokes adrenaline. My therapist suggested I function on adrenaline and that I use crises as an excuse not to do ordinary life. I think he's exactly right.
Two years ago I was diagnosed with cancer (it was early stage, the main treatment phase is over, and I'm doing fine). Friends remarked how well I handled it. I explained that it was nothing compared to bipolar depression. In fact, I did not get depressed for the first six months or so after my diagnosis (and usually I cycle every few weeks). I did remarkably well, mentally.
The crisis status of the cancer diagnosis and treatment offered me several--er--benefits. It initiated an adrenaline surge; it gave me focus & purpose; it gave me a valid reason to lie on the couch and not do housework; and it gave me a sense of urgency for a specific task.
I am not an adrenaline junkie in obvious ways like jumping out of planes or driving recklessly or taking on class 6 rapids. In fact, I will not even risk buying a $70 appliance without conducting copious internet research. My cautious nature may be why I am depressed so much of the time--I thrive on crisis, but I do not seek it out boldly.
What my therapist did not tell me was how to move from a place where I seem only to be happy and productive when adrenaline is pumping through me to a place where I feel ok, and not inordinately depressed and lonely, just doing normal everyday things.