When I was first diagnosed I was so relieved because I thought I had bipolar disorder and you know how THOSE people act. Then I learned that hypomania IS s a type of bipolar – Bipolar II – and I had to confront my own prejudice against Bipolar Disorder.
I’m cool with it now. I have done a lot of research on both Bipolar I and Bipolar II. I am in good company: Kurt Cobain. Vincent VanGogh. Marilyn Monroe. Virginia Woolf. And did I mention Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher)? Many of us are creative and very, very successful.
Problem is, we tend to step on a lot of toes along the way and tick off a whole lot of people. We’re also intimidating. When I’m in a manic phase, all I have to do is walk into a room and folks kind of lean back in their chairs – like I have invaded their personal space. I throw out this energy – which some people admire and others question.
I have what I believe to be really great ideas. Like a few years ago I came up with this freakin’ brilliant idea to write a book of recovery haiku, entitled Soberku: Haiku for Recovery. Don’t laugh. I’m serious. I thought it was a very clever idea because I had seen all kinds of goofy books on haiku – hockey haiku, gay haiku and the coffee haiku we have taped up around the gross coffee maker in the newsroom.
I had thought the whole thing through – as I tend to do when I’m manic.
I could go on and on and on because in that particular manic phase, I wrote a whole lot of haiku. Luckily, someone whom I admire very much gave me this peculiar look when I started talking about my book of recovery haiku and I decided to ditch Soberku.
Here’s the thing I have learned about being a dual-diagnosed alcoholic. You must learn to recognize when you are lifting off or crashing. It is easy for me to recognize when I’m perched on the lip of my black hole, about to fall into a depression. But the mania, that’s another story. It feels so damn good to be that confident, clever and invincible. How could that possibly be bad?
The Dalai Lama calls it “mindfulness.” Touchy-feely therapists call it “being in touch with your feeeeeeeeeelings.” Whatever you call it, it is perhaps the single most important thing I do to manage my mania. Of course, I take medications, too. But somedays, a little mania arrives and I can no longer afford to welcome it with open arms.
So, I am mindful of what’s going on in my head and body. If my thoughts begin to race and I shake my foot when my legs are crossed, watch out – time out. I need to tell myself to take it down a notch. No caffeine. No conversation about politics. No staying at the office until 9 pm on a Friday night.
And no damn haiku.
Happy woman with cocktail photo available from Shutterstock.
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Last reviewed: 31 Mar 2012