(First Published: Jun 09, 2007)
People read my stuff for different reasons but I have to stay true to the main purpose: helping “normal” people understand what it means to be bipolar and helping the victims manage or overcome it.
With that said, I thought I’d start a new series based solely on the symptoms involved and the issues that come in to a sufferer’s life because of them.
It’s tragic in a slight way. I feel really good right now but I have to write about these dark times. I have to temporarily transport myself back to a place I fought so hard to leave.
I do not feel great all the time and I don’t mean regarding the normal ups and downs. I’m talking about head problems beyond the norm.
I still have to go up against some stuff but it is a greatly reduced version of the painful trials I used to endure.
I have personally experienced almost every single thing on the list that follows
I wasn’t even aware of how much I had to deal with until I went through a bipolar forum and took notes.
I truly wasn’t aware of how much shit was no longer in my life.
I knew I was better. But I was so busy with the fight that I hadn’t realized how much ground I’d covered.
With that in mind, here’s the list:
- Don’t trust most or all people.
- Paranoid, feeling manipulated at every turn.
- Ashamed of your illness.
- You’ve become fully disabled, unable to function on any level.
- In the fight of your life trying to get disability compensation.
- Periods of knowing all the answers. Nobody can tell you anything.
- (Possibly the worst) Family and friends think you can and should “snap out of it”.
- Projecting your thoughts onto others. Assuming all around you feels the same way as you on a topic and you’re not even close.
- IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), migraines, pain with no clear cause, digestive tract controls your moods.
- Spending sprees, gambling sprees. These differ from what a normal person in the same situation would feel. These are mania induced explosions of effort in the aforementioned areas. The intended goals are all different.
- Can’t get enough sex even though you may be screwing your brains out. This is not the same as nymphomania. Nymphos don’t receive enjoyment from their sessions. We do but it’s simply never enough.
- Variety in sexual preferences and partners. It’s similar to what compels you in a spending or gambling spree. You’re enjoying the hell out of it but it’s never enough to fill that hole.
- Loss of sex drive. This is bad enough but if you’re in a relationship it’s devastating. You might want sex but you can’t perform. Or worse; you know you should want sex as a healthy person but you simply don’t. You don’t even miss it and you know this is bad based on principle.
- Unable to maintain your skill set.
- Hate being defined by your illness.
- Avoiding all conflict. A debate about anything, even a good natured one, is impossible or too painful to consider no matter what the parameters.
- Can’t finish your projects. Develop big goals but can’t ever seem to follow through on any of them.
- Overly sympathetic. Unable to stay purely empathetic. You join in and feel the pain of others as if it was your own. You consciously bring other people’s shit into your life. You may even know that you can’t help them in any way but you jump in regardless.
- You’re classified as a “dreamer”. Head in the clouds. Never addressing reality and being the responsible citizen you should be.
- Nobody around you understands your illness, what it truly means to be bipolar.
- Can’t keep a job, losing the ability to do the job you already have, can’t handle any type of responsibility.
- Dissociation. You’re fully detached from the reality around you. You watch your life happen like a TV show but you don’t feel a part of it. You don’t feel like you’re even real. Your life feels like an uncomfortable dream that you can’t control. The world around you doesn’t even look right to you: the sky, houses, the floor you’re standing on, other people, none of it.
- Out of body experiences. The essence of who you are no longer centers in your head or heart. It is outside of you watching your body as if it was another person entirely. You can see your body but no longer feel attached to it in any way. You can’t make it do what you want. Literally.
- TOO MANY PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATIONS! You have become a garbage disposal for multiple pills that aren’t doing anything good for you at all. In fact, you feel worse as time goes by. When you relay this info to your doctor he gives you even more drugs in response.
- Masochistic. You look forward to pain. Everyone differs in preference here. I used to like all physical pain gained through exertion and fighting. Many years ago I went through a cutting phase. Loved slicing my hands and arms with a blade and I didn’t hide it. It satisfied something in me. I don’t know what.
- Abusive childhood.
- You’re too open, can’t keep secrets for the life of you and can’t share enough about your personal life at inopportune times.
With the exception of one or two specific items I experienced all of this at one time or another and it usually came in packages. But no more.
And not all of these things are bad if they’re addressed correctly.
Some of what you or others think is bad or wrong about you is just not so.
Some of it is a gift. You’re just handling it wrong.
The photographer of this post’s featured photo: Ayo Ogunseinde