One Bad Day Does Not An Episode Make


One bad day does not an episode make.

Lately I have been feeling the brief bleeps of depression sending a telegraph signal to me to double my portion size. Worry about everything ever. And definitely cry while eating pancakes. I may not have noticed until the results became cumulative, and my first instinct when this sort of thing starts to happen is to shout,

“Quick quick quick! Finish all projects, sever all ties, and run for the hills! The big depressive swing is coming!”

While there is something to be said about being aware of my symptoms and knowing to be wary when they begin to stack into something more unmanageable I have a serious tendency to immediately expect the worst. Doom and gloom, certain I’ll be hospitalized within months, ever starting at the ground floor and working my way back up.

The reality of the situation, however, is that this idea simply isn’t true. One day of crying over my pancakes does not provide a 100% certainty that the next day will be the same, or worse. In fact, there are many more examples of me bouncing back from a depressive or mixed day than there are big (note: several month long) depressive episodes in my life, but these larger episodes have generally produced so much fear in me that I would not be shocked to find that I’ve worried myself back down into one.

It seems the real trick here is balance, something I’ve always struggled with a bit. Finding a sense of awareness about my symptoms but not overreacting (or even underreacting) to them is the goal. One of the biggest ways I can help myself is to remember that I can’t see the future (though I did have a dream once that came true. It was about cupcakes. None since then though). Being able to feel prepared for the future while also not feeling consumed by it is ideal, and while I can’t say I’ve mastered that I am definitely working on it.

It can be easy for me to forget that one bad day does not imply an episode, but this concept is one that I am actively trying to remind myself of (naturally doing so in a goofy Yoda voice helps) to help stave off that horrible crushing fear that seems capable of grabbing hold of me and dragging me exactly where I didn’t want to go. Hopefully working harder to stay in the present (while maintaining an awareness of my symptoms and how they operate) is something that can help keep me from stumbling into another depressive self-fulfilling prophecy!


8 responses to “One Bad Day Does Not An Episode Make

  1. Yes, yes, yes. My head is bobbing up and down reading this. I get it…I live it. The symptoms are scary and the disease is scary. But you are right…or Yoda is…one bad day is just one bad day.

  2. Thanks for this Sarah, I really needed to hear it today. I’m having my first bad day in a long time and already I am consumed witb fear preparing myself for a meltdown. And it’s probably just a bad day. Need to remember one bad day does not an episode make.

  3. Thank you for writing this. I’ve been going through this panic up and down mode for weeks and you describe it perfectly. Deep breathes, right? And Yoda, of course. 🙂

  4. Yes, everyone has bad days from time to time. I’ve been feeling a lot better since my latest medication change, and then had a total meltdown the other day. I started to think “oh no, the medication isn’t actually helping” – and then I realized that it was completely normal to have a meltdown over that particular situation.

  5. Related to your post are the cognitive distortions called magnification and catastrophizing. Learning how we do this tends to make it easier to change these behaviors and not extrapolate into the future.

  6. This is a great post! In my inbox right when I needed it. Thank you Sarah.

  7. I’m guilty of the same thing. This time round, I asked for help. I told my docs – which has finally led me to getting help after sooooo long. That’s good. I need help with this.

    My mind often races into the past or into some possible future. I’ve taken to tapping something in the room, something solid, and telling myself aloud that I’m here now, not there. It’s not happening to me now. It’s been helping. Takes time, and sometimes I have to do it several times in a day. But so far, so good. Down days but no big depression.

  8. And even if it was episode, it doesn’t mean it’ll be the same as usual. Though I’m not scared when it comes, I just feel sad. Maybe because episode will come anyway.
    Take care,
    bipolar from Poland

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