A lot of people are curious as to what it feels like to live with bipolar disorder. Now, I am only speaking for myself because everyone’s case – his or her life – is different. Some people liken it to riding a roller coaster and, in a way, it is. It is fast. I have what is referred to as rapid cycling bipolar which means like a pin ball machine my moods clash around in all directions crossing paths with itself. Basically I go from full throttle to behind everyone else quite quickly – month to month, week to week, day to day, or hour to hour. I keep everyone on their toes. Back to the roller coaster, where are each of us going? Well, we are running a course of mood shifts (bipolar disorder is a mood disorder) from very high to very low. Sometimes it is fun, sometimes to the outsider it looks fun, but it is those fun times that wind people living with bipolar disorder in trouble.
Those ‘fun’ times are in reference to mania or hypomania. During these phases or ‘episodes’ (what they call them in the psychiatric world) a number of activities can occur. One person may be highly promiscuity, another may spend tons of money without a care in the world – we are all different. I, for example, like to climb up high – trees, three story houses – believing I can fly. But like a bad hangover, when come out of these episodes, we shake our head and deal with the what we have done while hypomanic or manic. Sometimes there is a lot of damage done. Relationships can be broken. Our bank accounts can be drained. I wonder what would have happed if I kept walking on that roof? Don’t get me wrong, it can feel amazing – that is actually a symptom. We experience a feeling of grandeur, like we are the center of everything interesting. We are interesting and talented and amazing and we want everyone to know. Sometimes we may even feel we are God. Oh, to feel that high all the time, amazing.
The problem like that rule in physics, what goes up must come down, is applied here. The down, the depression, is awful especially when compared to the high one was just feeling. For me, it is deadly. When I get depressed I throw my cards in and walk away from the table. I stop communicating with others. I completely isolate except with my mental health team. Even to them I am a worry. Very few have seen someone so depressed. I just want to lie in bed ans sleep and never wake up. BUT I have two dogs to tend to so I can’t.
Bipolar disorder affects relationships. Many of them break. It is hard for a couple to stay together when one of them is out having sex with other people when manic. It is just as hard for friendships to bear the weight of the illness. I can’t even count the friends I have lost since my diagnoses in 2007. Some just found out I was mentally ill and did not want to be associated with me so they left. Others try to hang in there but due to my self isolation it is hard to break through to me. And then, when the friends do hang in there I test them by trying to push them away. I crave that more than a lot of things – friends. When there us a hole, we try to fill it. Friendship is my hole.
This still is not an accurate picture looking over this post, but I tried to catch a snippet.