Last week I went to a luncheon and listened to actor Richard Dreyfus talk about his bipolar disorder. Actually, he didn’t so much talk about his mania as gush about it. He went on and on about how how “grand and glorious” his life had been.. He knew he as a “manic depressive” because he was “thrilled with life too much.”
“It was a malady of the mind that I turned to my advantage,” Dreyfus said, adding that he was “in love with my romantic inner life.”
The more he talked, the more freaked out I became. At the end of an hour I turned to the psychiatrist sitting next to me, raised my eyebrows and said, “Wow. I don’t know about him.” She leaned into me and quietly said, “Sounds like he’s still working on it.”
I have bipolar II, also known as hypomania. Some people call it bipolar lite. We have bouts of mania and depression but they are not as extreme as those with bipolar I. We are right on the edge of basically scaring the crap out of people. When I was manic, I could walk into a room and without saying a word, people would lean back, like they had just been hit by a sudden gust of wind. That’s how strong my energy was.
Like Dreyfus, I loved and still love my mania. It feels so good. So incredibly good. It’s hard to describe what it feels like to be so strong – to have so much energy and creativity and laser-focus that nothing else matters. And therein lies the problem: Nothing else matters. Family, spouses, children – their importance in our lives fades as our brilliance grows brighter and we become more accomplished, win more awards, make more money, run more miles and push far beyond our fellows.
We are off the charts. Freakin’ brilliant. Like wild-eyed racehorses, pawing at the ground and chomping on our bits as we wait for the starting gate to open. Come on. Open that gate, motherf*#$+*r, I dare you.
That is mania. It is bad. Yes, it probably gave …