Well, they say you’ve got to start somewhere, so why not here. I decided to start a blog on being bipolar after struggling to come to terms with my own diagnosis for the last two decades. I’ve had a lot of highs and lows, with not enough in-between days to make me feel comfortable with who I am, or even with who I want to be. I feel like a cracked egg. Broken and shattered, with no hope for repair.
Or is that true?
I had struggled with my highs and lows for a long time, but didn’t really start to push myself to get *well*, as they say, until after I was hospitalized thanks to a suicide attempt by overdose in May 2007.
But how do you get *well* when there is no cure? Living with bipolar disorder feels like living with a ticking time bomb taped to your body, and not having any idea when that timer will countdown to zero. It’s a life of chaos in a world that makes you think it supports you, but shuns you in the same sentence.
Sure, everyone is saying they are wanting to help those who live the struggle, but ask them to become your friend, or even your partner, and they’ll ghost you in a heartbeat. Even in the age of enlightenment and all inclusiveness, people still avoid people with a mental health diagnosis like they have leprosy. In fact, I think they’d rather welcome a leper over me any day. That makes one feel good.
And when you start to mix religion with your diagnosis, the real winners start to jump out of the woodwork. I’ve actually had people try to lay hands on me, because they felt that I was demon possessed for my illness. Now that set me back a bit.
The truth is that bipolar disorder is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. In other words, my neurons are not firing on all cylinders. But only on a level that helps me maintain a level of maintaining an emotional state. It has nothing to do with my physical abilities or intelligence levels. It just means that I feel more than others do. And to be honest, I really don’t want to feel in the way I do.
When people feel euphoric, they feel it for a moment and move on. When my euphoric state hits, it is called mania, and it doesn’t just hit for a moment, it can last days, weeks, and even months. It can create a chaos in my life that can have detrimental side-effects. Those who struggle with the mania are often diagnosed with bipolar disorder 1, which is what I have.
When I experience mania, my life goes into a spiral of confusion, fast talking, and fast spending. I am compulsive when I am manic. It seems like more gets done when I get manic, but it is also where my life begins to crumble. It is where my addictions begin to take over. It is where I tend to spend too much and do too much. Luckily, I’ve kicked the more life threatening addictions years ago; however, even the ones that involve a credit card and Macy’s are not exactly easy to kick either.
At least I have a shopping hangover plan in place when that happens. The receipts are never thrown away, and I force myself to march back to those stores to return those purchases. It’s harder than it sounds. Trust me.
Now, when people think of depression, they only think of sadness. But what they don’t think about is pain. First off, pain isn’t always physical pain, it is emotional and mental. Imagine the moment in your life that hurt your heart the most, now increase the pain by one thousand, and you have bipolar depression.
I’ve had people tell me to snap out of it when I’m in bipolar depression, and I’ve literally have had to hold back from wanting to punch them. You don’t just snap out of it. It is a cycle. Yes, we have coping mechanisms to help us get through those moments, and not allow them to overtake us, but it isn’t something that just goes away. Bipolar depression is something that similar to acquiring a virus. You have to allow it to run its course, but you also have to treat the symptoms to keep them from harming you further.
That is where anti-psychotics come in. I know people who are so against the pharmaceutical companies the imprint they have left on people in the mental health community. But I am here to tell you that with the right cocktail, I am able to live my life. I am able to function as an individual in society, because I worked with a psychiatrist to identify the right combination of drugs to help me combat the effects of being bipolar. I would never, ever tell someone who is struggling to go off their meds for any reason. That is like handing them a gun with bullets in every chamber and telling them to play Russian Roulette. The thing is that with the combination of the right medical professional, therapist, and pharmaceuticals, people with bipolar disorder can function like normal in society, and you would never know the difference.
So, my purpose for this blog is to share my story. I want to share the trials and tribulations of what it is like to live bipolar. I want to help others who struggle with bipolar disorder, or know and love someone with the disorder. I want to help. And if that means putting it out there, then by all means, here it is. For you. From me.