It’s difficult to explain to people what it is like when my bipolar is spinning out of control. And I don’t mean totally out of control. It is a semi controlled chaos that I go through from time to time. Every 7 to 10 years I have what I consider a difficult time. This is typically when I am unable to keep a job, a relationship, or really control my emotions. Over the years I have been able to see the signs that it is coming on, but there is no stopping it. It’s like a freight train coming into a 70 mile an hour bend at 200 MPH.
The difficulty in explaining is that there is usually nothing that would precipitate it. There is no single symptom. It is just that everything is to the EXTREME. I always cycle, they do not come to quick and they usually are not that extreme. I go through periods of depression, aggitation, mania, hyper productivity, disorganization….. but they are relatively short and not severe. I can get out of them in a week or a month. They do not stop me from performing at my job or in relationships.
But when I am spinning out it is bad.
I buy things impulsively…. and not to the points where I will be out of it in a month but where it could take me a year or more to satisfy the debt. I have a hard time performing at my usual level at work. And add in the irritability and aggitation departments, things do not go well.
I am in my 50s now and have had this feast or famine life. I made good money, had a girlfriend and a new car before I was in my 20s. Then I bummed around the country when I fell apart in my early 20s. Spent some time homeless, living off the good will of others. Or being used by them. I was lucky I was not into drugs or I really would have been a mess.
In a matter of 3 years (age 29 - 32 ) I went from being the poor friend who would sweet talk myself into a meal to making twice what my other friends made. I bought a second house that was a mile from my work because I could not deal with a 30 minute commute. One of my good friends at the time started talking to me less because he could not deal with my anger and rage when I felt others doing wrong.
I got laid off because I was screaming at people at work, buying too many things and communicating poorly. There are more stories I can tell about this work place but I will leave that for another day. When I left I had a 6 digit checking account and 3 homes…. that was 2006-7. By the end of 2007 I was losing my shit. I dug up my backyard and built a koi pond. Almost started a fire from my cigarette butts in a plastic planter. I was so spun out that my family finally made me go seek help for the first time since the early 90’s.
Everything but one house was gone by the new decade.
When I hit 40 I was single and broke. I was taking my meds and going to counseling. I had to do community service just to pay for a ticket I had gotten going to see my daughters ball game. That led to me working at a foodbank for low wages. But there was no stress. I drove a forklift. Picked up and supervised inmates that helped at the food bank and generally doing ok. Somewhere between 2010 and 2012 they decided that I was doing so well I didn’t need the counseling or meds any more. I had explained that I thought that was a bad idea, but they were like, “You are aware of how you are doing, You seem fine. There is no need for further support”.
My daughter would graduate highschoool soon and I figured I would go to college. I started that in 2012. Graduated summa cum laude in 2015. Failed to get a 4.0 because in the fall of 2014 because I quick smoking and started to not be able to deal. Couldn’t think. Had the cops come to my house because I smashed the rangehood off my stove and scared my niece. They took me to the hospital. Watched over me for the night and sent me home. This is when I got help again.
It’s a constant cycle. I don’t like it.
In 2017 I graduated fromn grad school. ( 4.0 there :) yay me.) Enjoyed my time with my friends. My daughter was asking me why I was so happy all the time. Like maniacally happy. Life of the party. Reminded me of when I was like that when I was younger and people would think I was on speed or somnething. I tried to explain it is just part of what I go through.
After graduation I got a good job doing research but it was away from my family. I made sure that my counseling and medication would not stop. I had to super proactive to make sure that I found someone that could help. Luckily my current employers sees bipolar as a disability. Most people that are disabled hate the term. It the same with being “atypical”. I have severe ADHD, BiPolar disorder, Horrible anxiety when thinds are acting up.
A lot of the problem is people can not see the sick. It is hard to explain. You go from being a hyper productive person to not being able to think. When spinning, that can happen in a few hours. Morning I am rocking my way through tasks. I know what I want to accomplish for the day and how to do it… Then, BAM. 11:20AM hits and all of a sudden my brain can’t hold a thought. I am looking at what I am doing and I don’t understand. I mean it is right there but I can’t reach it. Then the anxiety hits. You wonder if you are having a heart attack, your heart is racing but your pulse is calm. What the heck is wrong with me. Did I miss a med today? Did I sleep wrong, badly…. WTF? Go take a xanax to try to calm down.
Nothings there…. it’s even happening now. Don’t remember where I was going.
But I can seem productive.
When I get like this I like to put together Legos. People look at me like…you were able to put together 4 lego sets today…. .well… yeah…. I can attach thing ‘a’ to thing ‘b’. I need the distraction. But that is not productive. Not in my work sense of being productive. And I need to keep my mind busy or the darkness will start to settle in. Can’t have that. Need to keep busy to outpace the bad thoughts. Hearing all the things you’ve experienced through life.
- What are you stupid
- what a spazz
- why don’t you do something
- your lazy
- why don’t you try
- your an idiot
- you shouldn’t act like that
why can’t you be normal
- i’m worthless
- i wish i had someone to share things with
- why can’t/won’t anyone understand
- why am i empty
- nothing sparks joy
all the things that do spark joy are meaningless because I can not show you…. whoever you are…. come find the pretty with me
- you shouldn’t feel that way
- what I did shouldn’t have upset you
- your feelings are wrong
we can just agree to disagree
- get the fuck out
- just shut the fuck up
- i need some time
- i just need some fucking time
The last time I dated I tried to explain that dating me is dating someone different all the time. There is no constant.
And the “I know what that is like” from others drives me nuts. Oh I have trouble concentrating sometimes….. oh I space out …. I get sad.
I experience existential dread that nothing will ever bring about the light again… but I saw you smile… you laughed at that joke…. yeah then I thought about what it would be like to watch everyone die….
I cry at sappy movies because I am empathic. I can feel what others feel. I can put myself in their shoes. But I have little to no sympathy.
I have no patience for those that cannot understand..
aaahhahahhahahha… see I can’t think… Can’t remember what I was trying to get at…. Time to build another pedal.