Bipolar is not funny. I know. I have Bipolar II. But sometimes, you just gotta lighten up and laugh at…bipolar disorder. People have gotten seriously ticked off at me for occasionally taking pot shots at bipolar disorder. But THIS is funny. It ran in The Onion 10 years ago and it still makes me chuckle…
NEW HAVEN, CT –In a diagnosis that helps explain the confusing and contradictory aspects of the cosmos that have baffled philosophers, theologians, and other students of the human condition for millennia, God, creator of the universe and longtime deity to billions of followers, was found Monday to suffer from bipolar disorder.
Rev. Dr. J. Henry Jurgens, a practicing psychiatrist and doctor of divinity at Yale University Divinity School, announced the historic diagnosis at a press conference.
“I always knew there had to be some explanation,” Jurgens said. “And, after several years of patient research and long sessions with God Almighty through the intercessionary medium of prayer, I was able to pinpoint the specific nature of His problem.”
Let me just start by saying I was not a touchy-feely, self-help-book kind of girl. I was more of a You-want-a-piece-of-me? kind of gal. Comes with the profession – journalism – and the more time you spend in a newsroom, the more refined your sass. So, when I came out of my last major depression and my therapist suggested I do some “Inner Child” work I rolled my eyes, thanked God for our confidentiality agreement. No one would find out about my “Inner Child.”
It seemed really silly at first. REALLY silly. I drew pictures, wrote letters with my left hand from my “Inner Child,” went through boxes of old picture and visualized my “Inner Child.” I have very few memories of my childhood. But after a couple of months of working with my “Inner Child” weird stuff started happening. Memories struck like lightening – totally out of the blue. I could suddenly recall the tile and and door knob at the swimming pool. I could see myself as a 6-year-old with long pig-tails, ridiculously short bangs and my favorite red check dress with the black velvet ribbon around the waist. My sister helped me remember the library with the creepy stuffed bald eagle.
So, I was at church with this friend and when it came time to pass the basket. She had left her wallet in the car and didn’t have any money to put in the basket. She leaned over and whispered that she was embarrassed and worried about what people would think. I got all self-righteous and told her she shouldn’t be concerned about what other people think and that God knew her wallet was in the car and that was all that mattered. She could square up with God later.
A week later, I’m at church with the same friend and before the service started I showed her my new shoes – a brand spanking new pair of Ferragamo pumps that I found at Goodwill for $8.99. (I kid you not. $8.99. Clearly, the biggest Goodwill score in the history of Goodwill shopping.) She shook her head.
To prove it I showed her the bottom of the shoe, where the good folks at Goodwill had written the price with a big fat Sharpie on the sole: $8.99. She leaned over and smirked, “You know when you go up for Communion and kneel down everyone in church is going to know you got those shoes at Goodwill.”
A friend with bipolar reminded me last night that work is work. I’m not talking about “work” work – the kind that pays your mortgage. I’m talking about the work of staying mentally healthy. It ain’t easy.
For me, it’s a 24/7 job. Literally. It starts as soon as I get up. I check my mood. If it’s bad, I ask myself “Why?” Usually, there is no reason. Like this morning. There is nothing really wrong in my life right now. The checks aren’t bouncing. The air conditioning works and I’ve been having some pretty good hair days. So, the feeling I have this morning is not a fact. It feels real and I respect it, but it isn’t real. It’s my brain playing tricks on me.
Breakfast. It only took me 50 years to figure out that caffeine jacks my mania. The last thing I need when I’m manic is a stimulant. D’uh. So, I quit caffeine. I suppose for some people it’s okay to have a cup of coffee or a Diet Coke. But I am also a recovered alcoholic and there is no such thing as A cup of coffee or A Diet Coke just like I could never drink A Long Island Ice Tea.
As for food, I went gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and Twizzler-free after my last depression. It took a few years to cut that stuff out of my diet, especially the Twizzlers. I did some research and realized that these things probably weren’t helping my depression.
The bad dreams are back. I don’t know why. I had a perfectly wonderful day. I am visiting my daughter – who just happens to live by an outstanding outlet mall – and we are power shopping. Everything fits, looks good and the prices are so low I have to ask the clerk if there has been a mistake. She says, “No and it’s another 40 percent off of that.”
What more could a mother and daughter ask for?
So, why are the dreams back? Why am I waking up in a sweat with the anvil of anxiety on my chest? I have been healthy and feeling good for months. Why did I just dream that I fell into another deep depression and my bosses were going to fire me? The bosses who, during my last depression, were so understanding and kind. The anxiety engulfs me.