Being bipolar isn't obvious. It's not like having a scarlet letter on your breast. Unless you tell people, they will never know. And in a way, it's a good thing.
Some people are afraid of being defined by their mental illness. I’m not. In fact, since I was diagnosed in 2001, I’ve practically shouted it from the roof tops. The relief that I felt from being told that I wasn’t totally crazy was so overwhelming, that I don’t think that I stopped crying for several days. It explained a lifetime of ups and downs in behavior and moods.
What people think of as bipolar is the dramatic representation of the disorder. What they see on TV. That’s not always what the truth is. The highs of the disorder aren’t always that high, and the lows aren’t always that low. And there are in between periods that can last a long time, where everything seems… normal.
It’s a roller coaster ride. Sometimes it’s the kiddies ride, sometimes it’s the wooden roller coaster and sometimes it’s the monster roller coaster to end all roller coasters. As Forrest Gump says… “You never know what you’re gonna get.” And here’s the kicker… the highs aren’t always in line with the lows and vice versa.
The highs… Ahhh… the highs… let me try and explain them to you. When you are in a manic state, everything is sharper. Sounds and sights all seem to come into better focus. You not only seem to hear and see better but you “feel” what you hear and see. What you feel and touch, you do so, with more intensity. Your sense of taste is increased. Your sense of creativity is spurred onward and upward and you feel more creative. You feel as though you and you alone can take on the world. You become the life of the party and party revolves around you.
You speak quickly, so that your speech can keep up with the rapid firing of your mind. You mind is going a mile a minute. You can’t write fast enough to keep up. You run to keep up with yourself. You can’t sleep, because your mind won’t shut down. You don’t eat, because you just don’t think about it.
As you continue to spiral higher you begin to enter psychosis. You haven’t slept in days. You haven’t bathed in days. You have spent money wildly, because you have started creative projects, but didn’t finish them. You may find that you have had sex with people that you wouldn’t have normally given the time of day to, because it seemed like a good idea at the time. You have this incredible sense of invulnerability. And you are physically and emotionally exhausted. Yet your mind still won’t shut down.
And just as suddenly, you are descending into the depths of hell. You are afraid to open the mail or answer the phone, knowing that you have racked up incredible debt. You want to sleep all the time. Everything tastes like ashes. There is no color in the world. Sounds are muted.
Again, you aren’t eating or bathing, because, what’s the use? You don’t want to see anyone. You feel sick. You are disgusted with your life. You can’t stand to be around yourself, how anyone else could stand to be around you. You are worthless.
This is the crash. This is the depression that comes with the mania. The bottom of the roller coaster. And it isn’t always the hell that I just described, but the high isn’t always as high as I described, either.
And this happens sometimes over and over again. Sometimes only once or twice in a life time.
It is often misdiagnosed, because you don’t go to the doctor when you are manic. You feel too good to be sick. You go when you are depressed. You get put on anti-depressants. Which can make you cycle faster. (Oh! Goody!)
Why am I telling all this? So that you understand where I’m coming from… and where things go, sometimes… Just thought you should know.
Ever go there?