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In a real dip in mood just now – so much unsettled and unknown in my life that it’s getting to me. Then there’s the world around us that has an impact too. It’s something I’ve become more and more aware of in the last few years just how much external news and events have a direct effect on my mood.

If you’re in a slump the best bet is to ignore the news as stories hit home in an almost personal way – but it’s hard to ignore the tragedy in Tunisia, the attacks in France and Kuwait over the last few days, they add to the depression. These kinds of things make you sad anyway but you are without protection from their influence when you are in the low ebbs of bipolar disorder.

In a low you are tearful, unsettled, frustrated and angry all at the same time and any stimulus from things in your house to the wider world take hold of you even though there is no direct link to your life. There’s little you can do about it – you might not even be actively thinking about it but in your subconscious it weighs you down.

You try to find moments of joy and laughter in any form to help drown out the negative thoughts, but they’re like downing a can of Red Bull when you’re tired – a quick fix for the short-term but ultimately useless. Mind you by the same token I have found that longer and more sustained periods of pleasure and happiness can give you just as bad a set of “blues” once they pass too.

You try to maintain that stiff upper lip, but once you are on your own and the mind has even a few seconds of time you find yourself dropping and tearing up again. Keeping busy is fairly easy during the day but it’s right now when the rest of the house is in their bed that the brain switches on and reminds you of the depression. That moment of silence for us night owls can be the best part of the day – only if you are not going through a stage of depression.

You want to break the cycle; you need to fight it back from taking over and become something darker – something that will overtake your life. It’s not easy. The darkness is as good a place to live as any. It’s where the worst parts of us live – not nightmares but warped reflections of ourselves that we can’t see past. Those corners of our mind that hold the weapons against our self-belief, self-esteem and hope. You have to find a way of avoiding that place and pull back into the “real world”.

There are many times I’ve opened the door – there are many times others have opened it for me and caused problems. Not all know they are doing it, but the effect is still the same. And we all have it, not just those who live with depression, it’d be a lie to pretend that there is a monopoly on misery. The difference is that combine the chemical imbalance with the darkness and sometimes it’s hard to turn back.

I’m fortunate that my condition has never pushed me too far down that road. I know how and when to step back and to go and get help. I’ve seen too many lose the battle with their demons to not do something about it. You need to know when to ask for help or point someone you love to get support.

The only way to stop darkness is to shine a light on it.

JD

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