Even with the ever shifting moods of bipolar disorder, there remains two constants. Irritability and reactivity.
Countless times, I have relayed that to others. The potential for emotional reactions is a constant. These are the two trumpeters that herald an oncoming episode. Consider it a precursor to the earliest of symptoms on either side of the mood spectrum.
The Rage, as Clown on Fire termed it in his post On Mental Health: Rage, can be seen across the board as a nearly translucent thread that tethers the symptoms of this disorder together. From mania to depression, these two symptoms are ever present. They are the flint and tinder that spark the fire to fuel these episodes.
I am no saint.
The last few posts have been a testament of my failings to maintain my own grace and good intentions. It is a demonstration of how one simple provocation can cascade into a series of outrageous and vindictive actions. I can justify it all I want. “… had it coming.” “… should have known better.” But, the simple fact is that the provocation may have had good intentions with terrible wording, and I was in no place to be receptive to it.
Who becomes the victim to The Rage? Is it shared amongst those who were foolhardy enough to stand in my warpath? Or is it, in actuality, me who suffers? There is no consensus. Any opinions would be just that, opinions. The Rage is entirely subjective between victimizer and victimee, and even those who stand by the wayside to witness it. To determine who takes what role is like splitting hairs. It is my stance that we are one in the same when it comes to vindication and the crusade for justice.
With exception of course.
The Rage is something for me that is not confined to hypomania, as expected. Anger is an emotion that can perpetuate itself, once set into motion.
In hypomania, it is obvious how anger comes to surface. Dysphoric hypomania is notorious for unearthing the deadliest of firestorms. I find myself going on a warpath, slaying everyone who I determine has wronged me. I feel justified, without rationalization, and perhaps even complete conscious awareness, to execute the worst of all of my behaviors. In hypomania, if you’re not with me, you are against me. Sometimes, it turns to paranoia, where I am in the mindset that people are against me. But mostly, it is a matter of drawing lines.
The Rage exists in depression. It is something that stems from the original, seemingly benign irritability. However, it has a different function. Many people have cited that the opposite of love is hate. That is certainly not true. The opposite of any emotion is apathy. But, in this sense, anger is a life preserver that keeps me from slipping under the surface.
Have you ever found yourself suddenly driven by vengeance, resentment, or bitterness?
The Rage stands as a driving force when the world around me is grinding to a near halt. It becomes the glass cannon. As long as it can keep the muzzle aimed away from myself, I can keep from sinking. However, it is glass, and it cannot remain as it is forever.
Once the cannon turns on me, as it eventually does, there is no way to escape the constant barrage of blows it can dole out at me. I made the cannon. This glass cannon knows all of my secrets, and is well equipped to take me down and out, for good. I become hoisted by my own petard, a victim of myself and the very mechanisms I’ve created to ensure my own safety.
When everything lay in ruins, when the episode has subsided and the smoke has cleared, I am the only one remaining to survey the damages. I have no blame, no rationalizations. It was me, and my gun.
Believe me, I am far from trigger happy. Luckily, I fear the consequences of my actions more than am I compelled to carry out certain atrocities and revenge. And I am not typically compelled to carry out dire actions.
But, there are moments where I am beyond my own control. I often crusade in the name of justice, and often compelled to make an example out of someone. The same as public executions. Just like in the days of old when a faction would put the severed heads of enemies on spikes outside of a fortress. It stands as a warning. Do not cross this line. Or else.
That is when the worst of these impulses are carried out.
Otherwise, it is reactionary anger. I am curt. I am passive-aggressive. If someone is too close, I will self-sabotage by driving them out. For their protection, or my own? Maybe both.
But at the end of the day, when I look in that bathroom mirror, there is no one to answer to but myself.