But What is Bipolar Like?
I’ve been catching up with a friend this week, and she was curious to know about bipolar. The reasons why aren’t of particular import — as long as someone wants to educate themselves on the subject, I am happy to offer my experiences and insights. And I figure, it’s probably a good thing to post here too:
‘For me, it was just trying to hunker down and make it day to day without exploding on too many people. I couldn’t do anything in the Air Force because I would have lost my clearance (you can’t have bipolar and top secret, as stupid as that is). I sobered up about a year after moving here, and then just kept hunkering down. I know I wasn’t okay ’cause I kept having to take months off of work because I couldn’t even deal with being around my family (work was, and is currently, at my in-law’s house). It wasn’t until after my daughter was born that I finally found the strength to try to push through for the diagnosis.
Before that, yeah, I’d had friends tell me that they thought I was bipolar, but before moving here, there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Once I got here to the UK… I don’t really know what took me so long to getting around to asking for help.
I guess it was as I said before — there’s a big control factor in it. If you don’t have any spoons (http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/wpress/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/), then you absolutely 500% do not have the resources to deal with being dismissed or treated like you’re an attention-seeker. Add in the American phobia of pharmaceuticals after our generation has been told at length that meds will make you a zombie, would you want to risk losing control to lose who you are? Better to deal with the internal rapids, because they are your own (it seems). There is almost a pride to know that you have made it another day on your own steam while your brain tried to kill you (and I do not dramatize there – to live with bipolar is to live with your brain trying to kill you. End of).
I will say that in my favour, I made a commitment from an early age to self-awareness and self-improvement. Obviously, we can only do so much with ourselves, and we can miss the forest for the trees, but it helped me get by. And when the time came that I was… happy? ready, then. Ready to make a commitment to diagnosis and treatment, I made it happen as quickly as I could manage with my lack of resources.’
As I wrote this for my friend, I am happy to share it with you guys for the same reason — I am doing my best to take my brain dysfunction and use it to show what it’s like to live with bipolar. This friend had some understanding from other friends, and while there is a lot of same across those that have bipolar, there are so many different flavours of it, and as individuals, we all have our own story of life with our constant ‘companion’. So explains some of the past novel with mine, hee hee.
Very very true there. I love the way you described it. Though I don’t think anyone has never had it will ever *truly* understand what it is like, I always do the same. Try to explain it the best I can in a way they can understand. That was about one of the best way I’ve seen it explained, too.
Thanks James, that means a lot. 🙂 One of my favourite things since getting diagnosed and treated is that I am -finally- cogent in my explanations. Before, it was a lot of shouty word fragments… which doesn’t work so well for making any viable points.
Described very well. I have depression and anxiety and depression. How do you live with something that is is never going to heal? I think people just expect you to snap out of it. Glad you are doing ok. Sometimes I just want to stay in bed.
I suspect that if I had slightly less vertigo issues, I’d probably want to spend more time in bed too. I do the upright equivalent by hiding in my corner with my computers and not engaging with my family. At least the here-family get that I’m trying to preserve myself, where as my birth family (and friends from my home town, with one or two exceptions) have that exact expectations of snapping out of it. Or trying to change the subject. Okay sure, I get that dealing with bipolar isn’t a walk in the part, but eeeesh. I suspect you would agree that the expectation that we should snap out of it is high on the brutal disrespect list, since it seems to fill in where we’d hope for support and hugs and attempts at understanding.
I feel you. I suffer different symptoms but I can totally relate to my brain trying to kill me. Every day it’s a struggle not to fashion a shank from an old toothbrush and stab myself in the ear with it repeatedly. Stupid fucking brain.
I adore your description of such a violent and poignant act; it makes me chuckle ruefully. But, I think, that humor definitely helps in trying to shut up the brain crap where possible.