The Godfather of Heavy Metal, Mr. Ozbourne himself, said it right, when he sang about “going off the rails like a crazy train”. Would almost make you wonder if he had this disorder in mind.
I’ve lived with bipolar disorder (tentatively bipolar II) for over twenty years. I’ve been diagnosed for less than 1 of those. What bipolar means to me now as opposed to what it meant all those years when I never knew it existed is completely different. For years I thought I was crazy, maybe a little insane. I felt I didn’t belong anywhere; my own family felt like strangers, adult figures seemed like aliens from another planet, and my friends, foreigners who spoke a different language. I didn’t quite fit anywhere- not at home or at school. I didn’t quite mesh with anyone- something was always a little off. I was a little off.
Who was I? Where did I belong? And what the hell was wrong me with me?
Some answers came last year when, after a complete and total breakdown that nearly landed me in the hospital, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I still wasn’t sure who I was or where I belonged, in many ways I’m still not, but I do know now what is “wrong” with me. After more than 2 decades of living in what was sometimes pure hell, or always being afraid that people who learn of my “secret”, of wanting to die at times while wanting to rule the world at others, I finally know and understand why.
My earliest signs of bipolar, back when I didn’t know what the word even meant or that the condition existed, was my dramatic changes in mood, behavior, and even personality. I would go off the rails, from one extreme low or high to another, time and time again.
My lows were typical bipolar depression, with a side of teenage angst, a dash of dysfunctional family and more than a hint of verbal abuse. I was a mess, although you would never have guessed by looking at the energetic, happy, outgoing teenage shell that I inhabited. I was a cutter, hiding my wounds beneath trendy shirts and sweaters. I tried to end my life several times, explaining away the missed days of school as girl problems or a stomach bug. I was clever in not letting the world see the the angry, hurting, truly and utterly fucked up person beneath the surface of the smiling, doe eyed teenage girl.
My high phases were, again, typical bipolar highs, or mania. It was during these periods when I managed to get into, and often cause, the most trouble. I drank a lot, partied hard, dabbled in drugs, flirted with far too many and often very inappropriate boys or men, experimented with members of the same sex, got into fights, and made one bad decision after another. My family life was turmoil most days as it was, but my behavior often made things worse. I was saucy and rude, rebellious and mean. At school I managed to keep up a pleasant facade, my secret guarded well. My parents couldn’t control me. I couldn’t control me.
I often wonder how different my life would have been had I been diagnosed and treated back in my early teen years when things started to go astray. Where would I be today if it had? How would my life now be different? One can only wonder. I suffered in silence for so many years, years that I can never get back, that this disorder has robbed from me. Years spent going off the rails like a crazy train.
By and © 2015, Writing of Passage, All Rights Reserved
Writing of Passage is a Thirty-something year old. Single mom of 2. Survivor.
You can find Writing of Passage at her blog here: https://writingofpassage.wordpress.com/