What I Mean When I Say, “I Don’t Feel Good”

Compared to me, my husband is a fledgling chick born only recently to living with a diagnosed mental illness. He’s spent a fraction of the time I have learning about his disease, trying medications, and experimenting with various coping skills. I’ve been doing this for years, well over a decade now.

As a teenager I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety then medicated somewhat heavily. I instantly hated the medication, but I did well in therapy. I enjoyed how I felt after a session if not the actual going, and I ultimately knew that I was getting better. I learned how to do life according to my needs.

Nowadays, I use the phrase “I don’t feel good” to indicate my bad days. After my second child was born, I was diagnosed bipolar with hypomania. My highs are never the insane highs you read about on the scare-your-pants-off-now-you’re-going-to-die-of-cancer-websites, and I spend most of my mood swings on the low end of the spectrum.

When we watched Inside Out with the kids, I joked that Sadness is the pilot of my emotional brain.

In our house, “I don’t feel good” means I am having a hard time getting out of bed. It means we’re ordering pizza tonight because there is a good chance I don’t want to cook dinner. It means the kids will probably have access to more screen time than normal and that I’ll take 3 naps today.

It means today is a 75% kind of day, tomorrow might be 50%, and the next day might be 80%.

Hopefully, I’ll be back at 100% soon.

Until then, I tell my husband and my kids that mommy doesn’t feel good, and we snuggle, watch movies that make me cry so they don’t notice I’m crying anyway, and life goes on as normal as I can make it for them.

At the end of the day, as long as I can make sure they’re cared for, fed, clean, and loved, it’s okay if I don’t feel good for a few days. The good always comes back.

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