I was diagnosed as a manic depressive, bipolar 20 years ago. As a kid I didn’t know any other way, nor could fathom existing in any other way but for how I was. I was prescribed medication from the start but fought taking it, or would comply for a few months, see no difference and stop taking the pills.
Almost everyday had some kind of chaos, whether it was fighting, sneaking out, trying to get high, sex everywhere, hitch hiking, running away, falling apart, etc, etc, etc. I didn’t recognize any of my decisions as being chaotic though, only in hindsight was I ever able to look back and pinpoint decisions I’d made to be dangerous, rash, and or just plain stupid. At the times of making said decisions it was with the false clarity only mania can give.
When you feel manic and grandiose, it’s like being high/euphoric. You speak without thinking, get overly passionate about things. You start projects, or obsessively hone a skill. You clean and organize and decorate until you notice the morning sun in the window and realize you’ve stayed up all night. Although mania can be dangerous, as in making important life decisions without a second thought. This is a perk of being bipolar, after you do find a med cocktail that actually works you miss the thrilling manic state.
Manic states also cause irrationality, say if you disagree with someone, or feel wronged, and are in a manic state. Anger rushes through you like a mamma bear discovering a camper among her cubs. Often times after a fight I would be told things I’d said or done that I had no memory of doing. The mania catapults your extreme emotion into this place where you just let go so completely that you aren’t even aware of what you’re doing.
Depression is the dark wave that swallows you whole.
You don’t know when it’s going to come, and it hits you in the face after being hopped up on mania. It’s strange that despite my 20 years dealing with this, the depression never ceases to surprise me. Every time I start to think things are finally coming up, I honestly forget that it’s not going to last. I forget too, when it takes me over that it’s a chemical imbalance in my brain and not my fault. I feel guilty, like I did something wrong, and this is why I’m depressed. When I say depressed, I mean every worst possible scenario for my life is flooding through my brain as if it’s actually happening to me right now. I feel like everything’s pointless, what’s the point is asked a lot. And then comes the semi-fantasizing about going to sleep and never waking up. That’s the point where I know to ask for help.
So, this is bipolar. For me. I personally believe that bipolar is a spectrum disorder because I’ve known people diagnosed who were milder, or more extreme than myself. I couldn’t find the art piece, but it summed up what being bipolar is like perfectly. Picture a man walking on a tightrope, except the rope goes up and down, up and down forever. The man has an umbrella and is doing his best to step over the valleys in the tightrope, but it’s inevitable that he will fall again. He never knows how far.
Five years ago, after years of trial and error I found the perfect meds for me. I’d never known an even temperament and contentment – just to sit in the sun and look at my garden. I’d never gone more then a month without a total meltdown, or a fight. I had a crazy passionate jealous streak that I now laugh about. You don’t even understand how wild this is to me. But you might understand how afraid I am too. Everybody knows meds change in your body and lose effectiveness over time. I’m on this five year streak and everyday I wonder when it’s going to come crashing down. To go through the trial and error again, the loss of control, the side effects from meds that don’t work for me, how long will it take to get here again? Will I go mad, and make some wild decision that ruins the life I’ve built up for myself?
Introspective I guess.
I don’t mean to say that I dwell, I enjoy what I have, but it lurks, right? I still get lows, no highs to my dismay. But I’m content. For now.