Saturday, January 25, 2014

What being bipolar feels like

I woke up this morning with the thought of "one must fall and stumble to rise and become wise." It sounds good and I wish it was true. Before my first major bipolar episode it was certainly true. I fell, I got up and learned from my mistake.

First, may we stop calling my disorder bipolar? It's better described as manic depressive mental illness. I think "bipolar disorder" was someone's idea of breaking the stigma of the mental illness much like we stopped calling African Americans "colored" or "black." I have actually forgotten which one is proper these days and I assume it really depends on the individual. Usually I just call those that I know "friend." While I don't consider myself racist I know I am prejudiced. Maybe a bit elitist because I can make a rash judgement on someone who may appear or sound like they have a lack of education. To be honest, when I hear someone's southern american drawl or accent the first thing that I think is hillbilly as a derogatory term. It's not fair and often not true. I can also make the same type of judgement walking through a Walmart seeing a fat ill conceived dressed woman with screaming children and a man following in a camouflage t-shirt. I got off track and exposed more than I should have. My apologies. That kind of thinking is unfair. I'm actually quite sympathetic with anyone who is over-weight, but avoid Walmart because I do see far too many screaming kids and camouflaged dress which should only be worn when actually hunting. When worn otherwise, it seems to me to be a very poor fashion choice. One example of being elitist.

Back to my thoughts on being manic depressive and falling down. In most cases, I can stand up stronger, but I live with the knowledge that I may fall and fall and fall into a sobbing ball of tears for absolutely no reason or over the smallest challenges or anxieties. I wish I could control it or even see it coming, but I can't. Someone will ask, "how are you? You seem sad? Can I help you?" and I haven't the slightest idea what their seeing in me, but, apparently, I can be rather transparent. Sometimes I may just be sad or sometimes I can be on my way down to dire desperate depression. The kind of depression that seems insurmountable and utterly crippling. At that point I know I either have to call my psychiatrist's mobile phone and make some temporary medication adjustments and basically sleep until I can get in to see her OR I need to go to the ER and get admitted to the Psych Ward. I have to keep myself safe from myself.

Other times, like now, I am in perfect control and my prescribed medications are working fine. I never deviate from my prescriptions. Sometimes, as previously mentioned, that's not enough and the illness takes over anyway. Tonight, tomorrow, next week, next month, it could hit. I don't know. I don't break into a rash or something before I take a dive. It just happens which scare me the most because I rely heavily on my mind. My intellect is my gift and weapon against the will and obstructions of society. I suppose it is my depression and anxiety which has most effected my ability to work for and have people work for me. I used to be an awesome employee and a great manager, but that part of me is gone forever. Maybe I could be that guy again for a short period or even a prolonged period, but I can't rely on my illness. It has rendered me unemployable. Now I hope that I can write books that help people deal with the illness either themselves or friends and family. That would be great. It would give my life greater meaning. It's rather important to me.

Then there is the flip side to depression. I suppose every manic depressive has their own experiences with hyper-mania or hypo-mania, but this is mine. I become super anxious. It get so hyper that my mind won't stop racing. So many thoughts all at once. They won't stop. They won't stop and be quiet. Not for a moment and I become tired and irritable. I become somewhat of an asshole. People close to me whom I may reveal my true feelings find me hard to control. This is the time I feel invincible. This is the time I feel superior to everybody. Theories of grandeur fly wildly from my mind and from my mouth. Soon the thoughts become too loud and they scream. I become scared and more anxious. I feel like the only way out is death. Again, I need to call my psychiatrist to make temporary adjustments or I need to be placed on a 72 hour suicide hold on a psych ward. It never just lasts 72 hours. It usually takes a week or so. It scares my family so I try my best to stay off the ward.

I've gotten real good at hiding my feelings. The ones I let in is my wife and one of my friends AND, if I feel truly out of control I will call my psychiatrist, I will go to the hospital, but most people, even my brothers and sisters don't know. They think they know, but they don't really know. I generally stay away from people when it gets bad. I tell people I'm too busy or I've got a cold. For the most part I suffer in silence.

Sometimes I fall, I stumble, I want to get up and be stronger, but I can't. I'm stuck. I'm mentally ill.            


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