(First published: Sometime during 07-08)
Bipolar is a bear of an illness. It’s assaultive. It hammers away at your underpinnings. It wears you down even when it has you charged up.
The symptoms list is practically endless. I know because I’ve lived it.
But if it’s new to you or you are supporting a friend or family member who is in the fight then read on to understand it a little better.
Physical health deteriorates due to mental illness
If the head’s not working the body will follow suit. This works in both directions. Your mind and body are intrinsically connected.
Some call it “bodymind”, one word. You can develop all sorts of problems with your body just because the mind is sick.
During the heyday of my bipolarism, I developed hypothyroidism, swollen lower legs, I stopped exercising due to lack of desire, and my blood work went all to pieces.
The bulk of these ills hit me within a span of a few months.
It goes even deeper than that.
It’s a form of protection that keeps you from becoming overwhelmed when too much goes wrong at once be it physical trauma or mental.
If this stress is not relieved somehow, it becomes pain, sickness, fatigue, and mental illness as it fights its way to the surface. You literally start to deteriorate from not addressing your past.
It’s how your back stays sore, how cancer can get a foothold, how heartburn takes root, headaches, bipolar disorder, you name it.
Granted, there are cases when you’re truly damaged in some way. You’re probably not going to just walk away from emphysema derived from twenty years of two packs a day just because you found a way to dump your stress.
But many times there is nothing actually wrong with you. It really is just unloaded stress. If you could find a way to relieve it, many of your physical ailments would evaporate. And there is a way.
What an annoying as hell little trait this is to develop! This symptom may strike you as odd but what about bipolar is right?
One day you become aware that you’re stuttering on a regular basis.
I lived with this for about a year. I’d never stuttered in my life, but in my thirties, I suddenly couldn’t NOT stutter when I spoke.
It’s a case of your brain misfiring and the malfunction is making its way into your speech. Like to drive me crazy all by itself!
People don’t read you right any more
You lose your connection in one-on-one encounters. People misinterpret your intentions. Your words sound right to you but your point is not coming across the way you want it to even when you feel fine.
I had years of this. It is frustrating beyond words. You simply lose your ability to relate to others.
Most of my life, regardless of anything, I got along fine with everyone. I was always well liked or loved at all my jobs. People told me so. Co workers sometimes wept when I quit!
But this skill just sort of faded away over time as my illness took charge. It leaves you feeling very isolated and alone. It’s as if you started speaking a different language from your fellow citizens.
Worse, it’s a generally negative response you are now getting from the world.
I found people either seemed confused by my words and actions, or they were wary of me while we were speaking face to face.
It was plain as day to me that they were uncomfortable, and I was bending over backwards in a conversation to try and relax them, but no go. I was out of the loop.
This then leads to a host of new problematic situations as you start to wrongly assume what the other guy is thinking.
We all know what happens when we assume, right? It snowballs into people just avoiding you if they can. Wholesale ostracization. Say that three times fast.
I make light of these things because, why not? I feel enough pitying and tear shedding has probably taken place on your part if you are the bipolar person, so lighten up a little! Spit in the illness’ face, so to speak.
A big part of you getting better is your attitude
It will more than likely be a big fight to even regain that simple strength if you’re far enough along but it can be done. You can, in fact, have your life back. I learned how to retrieve mine. It’s totally do-able.
The photographer of this post’s featured photo: Jeremy Vessey