I still have bad days.

I still have days when the darkness swallows my being and I am left in the lonely arms of depressions. I still have days when my hands twitch, my panic grows, and I am left a dysfunctional mess from anxiety. I still have days when I am swept up in the mind racing, heart pounding, euphoria inducing mania. I still have days when I have to remind myself that I am in treatment, and that this too shall pass.

But the bad days aren’t coming one after another like they used to. These days I can go to work more often than not, I can handle social interactions, and I am able to be a responsible, functioning adult. These days, my psychiatrist and I have found a good medication mix and my coping skills are helping keep the dark dogs at bay.

In short, I am better than I have been in a long time.

It feel nice to be able to say that. It’s been too long since I have been able to say “I feel good.” This is the reality of beginning treatment of a mood disorder like bipolar: it takes some time to get the medications right and to learn some coping skills. It takes time and energy and visits to the doctors and therapy appointments and medication and going through a slew of bad days while you wait and fine tune and learn. But sometimes, some days, it all pays off and you begin to feel good, normal, functional.

I have to say, I don’t exactly know what to do with feeling better. For so long I have been tossed about by my illness, all I learned how to do was react. Now though, now I can do more than react, more than get through, more than wait for the blessed relief of a good day. It’s a weird off balance feeling to be struggling for so long, and now to find relief. It’s as if you have been riding a roller coaster at top speeds all day, and now you are trying to simply walk a straight line. You are functional, but still feel what the ride was like.

Times like this can be dangerous for people on medications. It’s on the good days that we begin to question or need for medication, for the therapy appointments, for the treatment. We begin to lie to our self that we are functional because we finally got our shit together, finally pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps and got this illness under control. That lie is so dangerous, because the reality is that I am having good days because of all my treatment, and I need it all, the meds, the appointments, the coping skills, and everything else in order to keep these days good and not relapse in my illness.

Relapse happens. Some people stop taking their meds. Sometimes, meds just stop working. Sometimes we don’t deal with our emotions in healthy ways. Relapse is a reality for people who live with a chronic illness, be it diabetes, crohn’s disease, or bipolar. Relapse happens. Bad days happen. I still am not cured from my mood disorder and my anxiety. I am still in treatment.

But the treatment is paying off.

So now I have to learn to live as a functional adult. I have to learn how to go to work every day again, how to be responsible again, how to feel normal emotions again. And I need to learn to write again, how to be inspired again but more importantly how to do the work of writing again. There is a lot to relearn now that I am not living in a reactive storm of emotion and thought.

This is what it means to begin to feel better, to get my illness under control and to live as a “normal” person. This is where I am at right now, where I am walking and waiting. This is some of what it means for me to have these better days.