I’ve always been an emotional being. As a first grader, I remember crying at sappy Publix commercials. It might have actually been pretty cute at 6. But at 17, snot-bubble sobbing to your cheerleading teammates about the brevity of life on the way to a football game isn’t quite as cute. It’s actually kind of scary for everyone involved. Add a steep family history of mental illness, under-age drinking (sometimes alone), running away from home at least twice a year, and strings of stupid, stupid decisions in the mix…and “Here’s your sign.” You might be bipolar.
At first, I thought I just felt a lot of feelings. All of the feelings, to be exact. But as my “down days” turned into “down weeks” and then “down months,” followed by periods of ecstatic, extreme I-am-one-with-everything-in-the-universe-so-let’s-make-out-ok elation, I realized something might be wrong.
I don’t know why it took me so long to get my ass to a psychologist. Maybe I was scared. Maybe I knew what was coming. Maybe I wanted to put off a life-shattering diagnosis for a few more months here and there. But finally, in 2010, after a broken engagement, a mess of confusion and a whirlpool of darkness, I dragged myself to a doctor and was, almost immediately, diagnosed and put on medication. What followed were years of a cycle I could not seem to shake:
1. Wow I have bipolar disorder I am such a piece of shit waste of life where are my meds
2. Wow I have bipolar disorder this is the best thing ever I feel all the feelings in life
3. Wow I don’t think I have bipolar disorder anymore I should definitely stop taking my meds
4. Why can’t I brush my teeth
This is an illness people will never truly be able to comprehend unless they suffer from it. I’ve learned to accept that fact. But it doesn’t hurt to try to communicate, in every which way, what it’s like for us BiPo’s. (Yeah I just made that up on the spot. Not my best work.) Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, a psychiatrist that also has bipolar disorder, does the best job (to my knowledge and experience) at explaining what it’s like:
Mania (the “manic” part of manic depressive illness)
“The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one’s marrow. But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends’ faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against– you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there.”
“In its severe forms, depression paralyzes all of the otherwise vital forces that make us human, leaving instead a bleak, despairing, desperate, and deadened state… Life is bloodless, pulseless, and yet present enough to allow a suffocating horror and pain. All bearings are lost; all things are dark and drained of feeling. The slippage into futility is first gradual, then utter. Thought, which is as pervasively affected by depression as mood, is morbid, confused, and stuporous. It is also vacillating, ruminative, indecisive, and self-castigating. The body is bone-weary; there is no will; nothing is that is not an effort, and nothing at all seems worth it. Sleep is fragmented, elusive, or all-consuming. Like an unstable gas, an irritable exhaustion seeps into every crevice of thought and action.”
It’s taken me years to decide whether or not to “go public” with my experiences with my illness. There are plenty of reasons for this. Honestly, sometimes I’m embarrassed by it (I mean how could I not have control over my brain? Other people can get up and brush their hair despite having a down day.) Other times I’m afraid that people won’t trust me anymore, that my thoughts and opinions will no longer be thought of as valid (“Oh, she wrote that while she was manic? Dismiss.”) Also, people are just really misinformed in general about mental illness. If I’m really honest, I’m scared of uneducated/ignorant minds throwing my manic-depressive baby out with the bathwater. I’m scared that some of those people are friends of mine and our relationships will never be the same. I’m scared to get insensitively talked about behind my back. I’m scared of a lot of shit.
And it’s true.
This blog could very well be the end of some of my friendships, the demise of my reputation, and a total and complete disaster (or it could just never go anywhere because I hit a depressive episode and no longer have the energy to open my laptop.)
But I’m going to write it anyways.
A) It might be helpful to read the words of an actual crazy person so that, when you do feel crazy, you feel less alone
“Everyone loses it; everyone has their moments of charisma, creativity, success, strength, achievement; and everyone struggles with themselves. You may not hallucinate, but I bet you can understand what it’s like for your mind to misbehave, react insanely. If you haven’t yet lost control of yourself in life, wait.” -Mills Baker
B) I want to be honest and open about my life.
To me, honesty and authenticity are keys to heaven.
and C) I’m legitimately crazy.
HAVE A GREAT DAYYYYYYYYY