Bipolar as an adjective

A Bipolar journey is one of extremes, one of differences, emotions, opposites.  To me, in my eyes it is a spectrum.  The spectrum of someone with Bipolar Disorder can be so vast that many times I feel like no two of us are alike.

Yet I know we are alike.  We have similarities. We follow similar patterns.  We do similar things.  But at the same time we are different.  We do things at different levels, different planes.

Bipolar Disorder consists of so much, it is complex in design.  It is not just the adjective that today’s society has made it out to be.  It is not the the descriptive word often used in every day speech to describe someone who has a mood swing caused my something small or a remark that made someone angry.  It is not just “oh he/she is so bipolar”.  It is not just a snappy mood, or getting angry, or teenage rebellion.

For me, it is many different things at many different times.  It is flying, soaring like a bird, free.  Yet is is Chaos and frustration, destruction and despair.

How can it be all of these things, good and bad, you ask?

Anyone diagnosed with Bipolar disorder understands what I mean when I say that.  You know what it is like to feel all of those things at different times and sometimes even at the same time.

I can describe my mania with good and bad words.  I can explain the euphoric feelings of the “good” mania and then in the same breath I can describe the chaos enriched mixtures of the “bad” mania.

I can explain how in a mania or hypomania induced state I was able to go weeks on as little as 20 hours  of sleep.  How I took my cupboard doors off all of my cupboards (I have a very very large kitchen), repainted inside and out, put all new hinges on them, re hung them and changed the color of the doors, and scrubbed the knobs then then replaced everything into my cupboards in 2 days or less, when I had never done anything like that before.

I can tell you I spent hours in a mania writing some of the best writing I have ever created.

I can tell you how I made raised garden beds and planted carrots, peas, beans, potatoes, and pumpkins and I wanted to raise chickens.

I can tell you that during mania I cannot stay still.  I clean, I cook and I move around my house doing things at alarming rates.

But I can also tell you that I had to keep shaking my leg and moving my hands just to sit to eat, just to check email, just to write. Because I had to move.

I can tell you that I drove around for hours to keep my kids from seeing how bad the mania was getting, even when I truly should not have been driving.  That a friend drove around with me for hours in order to try to keep me focused enough to be able to drive.  In order to keep me in check so to speak.

I can tell you I talked so fast that my husband and closest friends were unable to understand me.  That I jumped all over the place in my conversation that my conversation was not even able to be followed.

I can tell you that I couldn’t read a book because I couldn’t understand what I was reading…but I could research raising chickens for hours on end, or whatever else I was fixated on during that particular mania.

I can tell you that what starts as the fun life of the party mania always turns into more damaging mania.

The one where the paranoia creeps in, where people on cell phones, even complete strangers are out to get me, they are being devious and are plotting something against me.

The one where those two people sitting at the coffee shop table, whom I do not even know and are sharing a laugh over a memory are really (but of course only in my mind) laughing at me.  Making fun of me.

I can tell you about the heightened senses.  About the times when colors and lights are super vivid.  When my eyes hurt because everything around me is over sharp, over focused.  Or about the times when everything is loud, even the thoughts inside my head sound like thunder.  I can tell you about the times I am so perceptive I can almost feel the earth turning.

And those…..they are just the bits and pieces of the mania.  Just the tip of an iceberg.

I can also tell you about the depression.  Not just a passing sadness, but the deep dark hell hole of despair that I am unable to dig myself out of.

I can tell you about the times I want to go to sleep and never wake up, even though I didn’t want to actually die.

I can tell you about the times I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror because I hated, loathed and despised the person looking back.

I can tell you about the times I held blades or hot lighters to my skin just to feel.  Just to get a release.  About the times I pulled my hair or scratched my arms and legs while hiding because I needed to feel but I was unable to cut or burn at that particular moment in time.

I can tell you about the times I sat contemplating suicide.  Just seconds away from downing more meds than I even care to mention, or slicing a knife across my wrists, or jumping in front of a moving transport truck.

I can tell you about the actual suicide attempt, about the hospital stays when the mania or depression gets too bad.

I can tell you about the countless medications I have taken to try to tame the Bipolar Beast. 

I can tell you about the times I don’t want to get out of bed and the times I don’t want to even get into bed.  About the times I don’t want anyone to touch me and about the times I need someone to hold me tight, to hold me together because I am falling apart.

And these are just some of the things I can tell you.

There are mixed states and manias, depressions, medication changes, hospitalizations, complications to medications (scary ones), times I drink alcohol just to feel, times the anxiety is so bad I feel like I am dying and the times I actually feel crazy.

But even though all of these things are a part of me, a part of my disorder…..they are not all of me.   I am so much more.

I have periods of “normal” mood, no mania, no depression. Periods where I work and become a functional part of society.

For me Bipolar Disorder is a spectrum with extreme mania on one end and extreme depression on the other.  But in the middle of the two are milder forms of the mania, hypomania, milder forms of depression, mixed episodes and of course the “normal” periods.

Because I am not just made up of the adjective Bipolar that people like to use.  Bipolar disorder is so much more.  So the next time you say “I am so Bipolar”  or “She is so Bipolar” perhaps you should take a moment to read some information on what real Bipolar disorder is all about, because I am fairly certain you won’t use it as an adjective after that.

Tide

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When all the world goes out like the tide, and you feel like you are standing alone watching and waiting for the water to reach you again, to cleanse you.  That is the moment when I feel most alone.  Knowing the tide will eventually ebb and flow again, but standing there and waiting. 

Sometimes.

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Sometimes the despair and destruction and chaos inside is more real than the conversation or situation that I am in.  To the point where I forget things because of the devastation that I am going through at that particular time.  Such is the story of Friday/Saturday.

I know it was bad, horrible, I know I bared my soul, but I cannot remember most of it.

The Mask that covers my face and the Wall that surrounds me.

I have had this mask covering my face and a wall surrounding myself for a – Very.Long.Time.  I was only a little girl when I began building up the wall and learning how to put the mask on.

6 years old with brown curly ringlets and big blue innocent eyes.  But the innocence was lost in time.  All it took was a few weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds.

I learned very quickly that I needed to build a foundation to support my wall.  So I began pouring cement that hardened my soul.  Once the cement was dry I began laying the brick… layers and layers of brick.  Each layer hiding me further and further inside myself.  A layer to hide the pain,another to hide the shame, another to hide the guilt, one to hide the secrets and another to keep the memories out.

The mask was a much different design.  It was one that covered the tears, and hid the hurt in my eyes. It hid depression, it hid thoughts of despair.  It kept this little upturned smile on my face.  You know the one?  The one with the corners of your mouth barely upturned so that people think you are fine.  The one where someone asks “How are you today?” and you know they really do not want to know the in depth answer that you could give them.  So instead you shrug a little, smile and say “I’m fine”.

Once and a while a crack would develop in the wall, but instead of a warm light shining in all I could see was more darkness, all I could feel was cold.

I would quickly repair and build the wall back stronger then it was before.  Reinforcing it with layers upon layers.

So I begin to realize that I am not necessarily protecting myself.  I am just layering these things on, one on top of the other.  And you know what?  All I am doing is suffocating myself.

It is like laying in a dark, deep, cold pit.  And someone is continually shoveling in shovel fulls of dirt.  After a while the pressure starts to become too much to bare.

Pressure from guilt – trust issues – depression – frustration – secrets – memories – feeling broken.

I have instilled both of these coping mechanisms from such a young age that often times I forget how to open up and let people in.  I tend to be skeptical of new friendships, afraid for people to know who I really am, afraid to trust.

But in reality I know that I have to let some people in.

Everyone needs someone.

Everyone needs that one person who is there to help, to listen, to console.

Sometimes I take a layer of bricks down and slowly poke my head up to test the waters so to speak.  To see if I can let my guard down for just a moment.  There are times I regret peeking out.  But still there are times when I realize that I can peek out a little further because the person who is peeking back in at me understands – for they too have been where I am.