I thought since I took you inside of my mind during a hypomanic episode, I'd try to describe the reverse as well. Here's what a depressed episode entails, for me. Everyone's different, but this is my version.
These episodes almost always hit in the morning. I'm not sure why. I wake up with them and have no idea what's happened overnight to cause them, but I know it's not good. The severity varies greatly from one depressive cycle to the next. Often times I can manage to work through them, at least after the first few hours. Sometimes, I can't. It's not that I don't want to, it's that I know doing so will only make it worse. One thing you need to learn when you have this type of condition is to respect your mind and body. Be persistent and don't give up at the first sign of an episode, but know when it's bad enough that the best thing you can do for yourself is to take as much pressure off yourself as possible and focus on you, for a change. If I have to, I take a personal day - a mental health day, as I like to call it. If I can't, I work from my couch,in comfortable clothes, with my favorite comfort foods and my coffee.
My depressive episodes last longer than my hypomanic ones. Sometimes up to two weeks, though that isn't common, for which I'm very grateful. The interesting thing is that they often don't involve some horrible feeling of pain or anger or anything like that. It's the opposite - they involve no feeling at all. Not in the zen type of way. In the way of just not caring about anything. For someone who's every minute is filled with emotion, this is the scariest thing in the world. Give me hurt, give me anger, I can do something about these - I can understand them, deal with them, and move on. But the feeling of nothingness is horrendous. It feels un-human to me. Depressive episodes also involve crying for absolutely no reason. When I say no reason, I mean literally none - or none that I can identify. Not even a sad song or an SPCA commercial with scared-looking, homeless puppies. The tears just flow. I sometimes try to find reason in them, to see if they're hinting at something I am feeling but don't understand. Other times, I know that what I need is to let them happen - I am a true believer that you can cleanse your heart, mind, and soul with tears.
I feel bad for others around me when I'm going through a depressive episode. They feel helpless, and if they've never been through it, I'm sure they don't understand why it has to linger on without any apparent reason. They want to help and often I don't want to talk to anyone or be around people. The episodes are physically and mentally exhausting. On Saturday I had trouble even standing - my legs were shaking and felt numb, my blood sugar had plummeted, and I was just absolutely exhausted. Sometimes that exhaustion lasts for days.
In the end, these depressive cycles, like the hypomanic ones, are part of me. I don't want them to define me, but they're a part of my life. Because I'm rapid cycling, I can't take anything for them - it could throw me into a hypomanic cycle. Those close enough to me will, at some point, see me in a depressive cycle. I hope they can understand, though I know it's difficult, what I need during these is simply time. Maybe an ear, but mostly time. I've learned not to make major decisions in either of my cycles. It's a learning process, every single time. So I ask you to bear with me during these times. And not to tell me to just smile or snap out of it (or anything that basically means "snap out of it" in nicer terms), because I can't. I truly appreciate those who understand me, or try. I promise that those who stick with me will be repaid when they're going through a difficult time, because I will most certainly stick with them.