I can sleep, but I can’t dream

I have a friend whose wife is bipolar.  She is stable now and doing well, but they went through many years of hell before she was diagnosed and more hell before they found a medicine that would work.  I asked him once what it was like at its’ worse.  He gave me a very cryptic answer that at first confused me a lot before he explained what he meant.  He said, “I could sleep, but I couldn’t dream.”

He said that he lost the ability to look forward to everything.  At its worst he said he could not even imagine anything better happening.  He had lost the ability to dream.

His days were colored with an inescapable dread.  Life was what you had while you waited for the next thing to go wrong.  His wife he knew was in the same space but he had no idea how to reach out to her.  Trying harder didn’t seem to help.  Being more patient didn’t seem to help.  He tried to not take things personal, but after awhile that just left him without any feelings at all.

He measured the quality of his life by the few moments of relief he got from the chaos that enveloped him.  He told me once of the worst minute of his life.  His wife had both manic and depressed states.  In the depressed states she often got suicidal.  They dodged bullet after bullet literally.  He told me of the horrifying day of too many crisises, when after hearing her talk about killing herself all he could think to himself was, “I just wish she would get it over.”

We both cried the day he told me that.

Bipolar disorder so often steals the dreams of anyone whose life it touches.  It blinds them to the opportunity of beauty and glory in life.  It leaves them hurt and wandering aimlessly through their days.  It leaves them filled with so much dread that somehow it seems better not to feel anything at all.

Recovery can seem elusive and hard to find.  It can seem a place far away.  But it is possible.  Like so many trips it rests with the belief that it is worth taking and possible to get there.  It is there though.

I hope tonight that you will sleep well.  When you wake tomorrow I hope you find you can still dream of better times, better places, and a better life to live.

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