(First published: Jun 16, 2007)
Man! This is tough for me to slog through this list. It’s a depressing endeavor.
But again, that’s the point. Two points actually!
If it’s so depressing to write about, then think what it’s like to live it!
Point two is that I am operating from memory on this. This is my past.
I have lived most of these symptoms with very few exceptions. But I do not live them any longer.
I have some very minor panic issues and that’s it.
Much, much better than trying to survive this laundry list of pain I’ve been sharing – every waking moment of my life. Cause that’s how it was.
Life used to feel like I was treading water, my nose just barely above the surface, and I was only moments away from the life ending fatigue that was sure to drown me.
Keep that in mind as you read. If you’re hurting I know how it feels.
If you’re someone trying to help another, then you need to know what your friend is going through to know best how to deal with him/her.
Whichever category you fall under, I can help.
On with the show:
Self confidence evaporates
You lose the ability to be comfortable with others in any type of social setting.
You know you can’t relate, can’t make that person-to-person connection, don’t know if your symptoms will embarrassingly flare up, or you’re just not your old self anymore.
You can’t rely on yourself to function in whatever way necessary. This is a crippling condition. It’s one that hurt me the most.
Undeserving of love or kindness
There are two twists to this. You have lost so much of your soul to the illness that you feel unworthy of anyone’s affection.
You don’t love yourself anymore is the real problem.
You’re pathetic and you know it. This is the self talk you have.
Then you project this feeling onto others. You don’t want their love.
The second perspective, one I often fought with, is not being able to handle the love.
It’s overpowering, suffocating, smothering, annoying. You can’t process the affection and you can’t reciprocate it either.
You’d rather be left alone than take on this responsibility of interacting with others on such a level.
Again, annoying. The energy of a crowd is too much for your senses to handle. Too much information to process. Your brain overloads just trying.
Crowds are often a common panic stimulator.
I used to get very claustrophobic in crowds. Had to get back into the open air.
The other thing in crowds is that you focus on the human events you yearn for but can no longer produce: friends laughing in groups, enjoying the day, couples holding hands, kissing, clearly loving one another’s company, etc.
You see what you used to have but no longer do and it hurts too much. It crushes the heart out of you sometimes.
So many labels!
There are varieties of bipolar, and then sub groupings of symptoms that can also be treated separately.
You lose your humanity to a categorization of your ills. And for some of us there were/are so many.
- I was classic bipolar, which is pretty fucking bad enough
- then my mood cycling accelerated, which made me some other type
- then I became mixed, which was a true nightmare
I was devolving. I just kept getting worse year by year.
- Along the way I was diagnosed with OCD.
- My sleep disorders were a separate issue with their own names.
- My physical health tanked in a few directions and I fell into even more categories.
Your life becomes categories. There’s no more flow. No more élan. Just categories.
You are a cast member in “Brazil”.
Need to help others
I think this is a common enough human trait. It feels good to help others. No need to be sick to feel that way.
Just be sure you’re not doing it solely to deflect your focus from your own problems, without truly addressing them.
The other branch of this is when it becomes a holy mission to you but you are whacked right out of your head with your own symptoms.
If this is the case, then you are not even going to be conscious of it. Only those close to you will see it.
I went through a spell of this. I was just about psychotic, literally, at the time this sensation of helping the world kicked in.
I wanted to save everybody.
I wrote about this in my journal at the time. Many long months later, as I started to get better, I looked back on these journal entries and was able to see I was simultaneously experiencing some of my worst symptoms ever.
There’s no way I could’ve helped anybody but it was like God told me different.
Of course, now I’m trying to do that very thing but I’m stable and can actually be of benefit to someone.
I had to get better first to be of any use to anyone. That is the difference of which I speak.
It is actually an indicator of illness to the psychiatrists when evaluating you:
So if you help others and are sick, but are getting positive feedback from those you help then by all means, continue.
However, if you are feeling Crusade-like drives to help, but have everyone around you telling you that you are a mess, then you must get help first for your own sake. Something to be aware of.
These are all things I pulled off of a forum for bipolar people. It’s not just my recollections of my own sick past.
Like I said, I just happened to experience most of these things myself. My life was jam packed with tortuous symptomatology.
I not only got my sanity back, I got a whole new life plan. I have never been happier.
I no longer crave drugs and alcohol. I don’t miss tobacco. These were unexpected side benefits I received in my pursuit of mental stability.
I wasn’t searching for a way to end my addictive nature. It just happened.
I’m no Buddhist monk either. I’m still a guy, an ex-Marine, and I like twisted stuff that most probably don’t.
I like dark topics. I like bizarre art and movies. I still curse (maybe you’ve noticed) and I think “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is fine programming indeed.
I’m still me. I’m just a me who can do some good in this life for others and help myself to a more rewarding existence along the way.
The photographer of this post’s featured photo: Tom Pumford