(First published: Sometime during 07-08)
Fighting against bipolar disorder is like playing a terminal game of Whack-a-Mole. You smash one symptom and another takes its place just to the side.
Even that result is only if your hammer (meds) has any effect whatsoever.
There are more ways to treat this than with medicine but that is the traditionally accepted route to go as the fight begins.
It’s the path most choose or are even aware of.
I offer a different path and the scenery is better as you travel it.
But for now, let’s just see what some of the symptoms and life situations look like on Planet Bipolar.
Key symptom of course, from which the name is derived. Basically, you’re up, down and all over the place emotionally.
The extreme highs of mania are offset by the crushing lows of depression.
One moment you are the undefeatable champion of your realm.
The next, you are so filled with despair that suicide is not far from happening. It begins to sound like just the ticket for what ails you.
The mania can return almost instantly.
Back and forth, back and forth you go.
It’s anybody’s guess, as you wake up each day, whether you’ll be on the mountain top or down in the valley.
It hardly matters.
It will probably change throughout the day too.
This illness goes through cycles that hold to no one rule.
You can be stuck on one side for a great length of time.
You may evenly experience both through cycles measured in years, months, days, hours or minutes.
It’s a nightmare the unafflicted can never truly understand.
You literally lose your identity or drastically change it at a frequent rate.
You are a different person at different times. You lose track of who you even are.
Worse, whoever you think you are, it usually doesn’t feel like a good person.
You begin to not know yourself. Friends and family begin to not recognize you either.
You are no longer who you were before this disease kicked in full force and nobody really cares for the new guy/girl you have become.
Through the course of my illness, my cycles morphed many times.
The doctors have a classification and title for each variation of how fast you bounce back and forth, or if you get stuck on one side for any length of time.
To me it didn’t matter.
The type of pills I got didn’t even matter, as over time, I was prescribed dozens and dozens of any pill that might apply.
This applies to any and all in your life. When you’re deep in the bipolar game very few companions can hang on for long.
This is a very, very hard illness to deal with as a witnessing partner.
The emotional popcorn machine that is the friend or loved one you once knew is too complex and too far gone for you to do anything with.
This applies to the boss, your significant other, close friends, coworkers, everybody.
Nobody knows what to do for you and neither can they tolerate you after awhile.
- My attitude and quirks got me fired a few times.
- I lost friends who no longer knew what to make of me or I bothered them too much to keep the friendship healthy.
- I flat out scared many coworkers, as my moods tended to lean more towards violent behavior.
- And my two marriages evaporated in the heat of the blast furnace of bipolar.
I needed those jobs. I cared for and depended on those friends.
And I lamented the losing of both my wives like I’d lost limbs.
The pain of divorce proved for me to be a type of despair I doubt I’ll ever do justice with words.
But looking back, I totally understand why each relationship broke. I blame no one. Not even myself.
That is important.
Don’t blame yourself for these things should they happen if you’re bipolar. You are no longer the right you.
Hate “The Normals”
It becomes too painful to be you. And despair is so ever present that you begin to hate the normal people.
They seemingly have no troubles and are capable of enjoying the simple things in life that are no longer accessible to you.
Each next step, next thought, next decision (no matter how small), next breath sometimes, is agony for you or too difficult to comprehend how to even begin to make happen.
You want desperately to be able to go about your day with the ease and delight all around you seem capable of.
You remember how you once were able and it feels like a dream or a memory of a movie you watched someone else perform in.
You mourn the loss of simply being happy and calm.
This then fine tunes your perception of all the things you no longer have.
Everywhere you look you see people:
- laughing with friends
- sharing tender moments with a significant other
- shopping stress free
- being OK in a crowd or a theater
- any and all of the human interactions.
These things are as off limits to you as if you were in a prison looking through a fence.
You can’t do it. You have been cut free from society and life and you can’t see how to change that.
This hurts beyond belief.
I was or felt everything you’ve read above.
No longer. Life is good to great most days. Even when it’s bad I roll with it much better than before.
The photographer of this post’s featured photo: Brooke Lark