A Blog-o-versary!

I am in serious shock. Aside from my personal journal, I have never kept a project going for more than a year.

Truthfully, I can’t take all of the credit. If Pendulum didn’t have an audience, I would have been discouraged enough to abandon the blog. If I didn’t have such wonderful friends here, I might not be inclined, or even inspired to write. Thank everyone for their eyes, ears, fingers, minds, and hearts.

Now, for this blog-o-versary behind-the-scenes edition of Pendulum.

Little known fact #1:
Pendulum was not the first blog I created on WordPress. Some people know about the other one, but I’m not really supposed to directly give the secret away.

No, the inspiration for a blog actually came out of a kind of spite thing. An old, friend-turned-rival had a personal blog she used to keep updated with friends. It contained some cute antecdotes about her life and some concert and album reviews, nothing incredibly revealing. While I had no inclination to start a very personal blog, I did want to have a humor blog with some antecdotes about my own life.

By the time June rolled around, I was in a very isolated place with my life affected by disorder. I felt like I was hiding behind some alter-ego (when am I not? Let’s be honest!), and I was suffering in silence. I always had been.

After a forum and a friend, Pendulum was born.

Little known fact #2:
Pendulum started with a self-injury post, To See if I Still Feel (a Nine Inch Nails lyric). But, what is lesser known is that it was accompanied by a half-hearted suicide attempt.  It’s coded throughout the post, but I never really came out and said it.

Pendulum literally saved my life that day.  That was the day that I really realized that there are other people out there who are like me, who have been what I have been through, and get it.  That’s always been the problem in my life.  There are few people who get it, and those that do only seem to want to have a pity-party competition.

It wasn’t followed up by comments right away.  But, it was a start.

Little known fact #3:
“As the Pendulum Swings” was not the original choice for a blog title.  However, the blog title that I wanted was already in use by my other account.  At that point, I was very much in hiding about bipolar disorder, so I had to sever from it.  I literally sat at my computer for a half an hour, staring at this blinking, expectant cursor.

It is not named after the Linkin Park song, “In the End“, though many times I use the full name of this blog, it does go through my mind.  All I could think about was my time ticking away, pendulum swinging back and forth, dragging my emotions with it, with all of the futility and loneliness of my existence.  And that’s how it came to me.  My life is like a pendulum.  With an upswing, there will be a downswing, and so on, and so forth.  There is no end until the clock runs out.  And then, you’re dead.  And no one knows when that’s going to be.  Today, tomorrow?  Old, young?  By my own hand, or by a stupid accident?

So, this blog was named to detail the swinging pendulum of my life, and go with the ups and downs.

Little known fact #4:
Tallulah grew out of several different names throughout this last year.  Those that have been with the blog prior to February will remember the screen name of LunaSunshine.  LunaSunshine was named for the tattoo on my back of a moon and sun, my own visual representation of the duality of my nature and the stark contrast of parts of my life.  I knew Luna was “Moon”.  I just couldn’t do any better for the “Sunshine” part.

Now, even lesser known fact.  At a job I worked over a year before this blog, I earned the nickname of Sunny, just because of my demeanor.  Believe me, it was really difficult some days.  Sunny was something that stuck with me, because no one had ever referenced me in such a manner before.  I didn’t know I could even be perceived in that context.

And during an episode, just before my son’s second birthday, I dyed my hair bleach blonde, a color I hadn’t worn since it was my natural color as a child.  I guess it marked some kind of stability for me, because I’ve managed to keep the same color for almost two years now.  Before that, it was bouncing between brown and red, based on the episode I was in at the time of the purchase of the hair color.

Now, back to the evolution of the name.  Another blogger started to refer to me as “Lulu”, and somehow, it fit.  It just stuck.  No real rhyme or reason in a real life context.  And maybe that was why.  A clean break, you know?

How did it evolve into Tallulah?  Actually, there is a post entitled, “A Proper Name” that gives explanation to that.  Tallulah has always been a name I wanted to name a daughter, if I ever had one.  I realize that’s not an option.  Tori Amos wrote a song called, “Talula”, which carried a special meaning for me.  To me, it spoke of the projection of the ideal woman, whether it was mine to begin with or not, and holding it as a standard, where if I don’t embody it, then I will be abandoned by the ones I love.  It’s kind of like “behave, or we’ll stop loving you”.

It fit with “Lulu” already, so that was that.  Stark was just something that paired well with it.  It was not intentional, as it just popped into my head, and it has nothing to do with Iron Man.  In fact, I have never seen the movie.  But, I will make a kind of weird admission that Robert Downey Jr. looks kind of hot in a GQ sort of way in the commercials.

Lesser known fact #5:
This is my first mental health blog, but not my first blog about my personal life.  In my younger years, I had been inclined to share things via short lived blogs on Livejournal, Darkjournal, Blogspot, Myspace, etc.  In fact, I have had flame wars with my husband via blog sites, obviously much prior to our relationship and subsequent marriage.  I found hard evidence that my ex had been cheating on me, via blog sites.  My husband found out he had a stalker (same woman as the one my ex cheated on me with).  And I’ve even had to end several friendships over flame wars on blogs.

The very last time I had a falling out on a blog site was when I was finished with blogging entirely.  I didn’t appreciate how a friend dragged an incident where she was completely in the wrong into a public light.  Then, she went as far as to try to spin it, and take the focus off facts and onto slanderous statements.  I quit after that.  We closed down all blogs, old email accounts, and most social networking sites.

And finally. . .

Lesser known fact #5:
My husband is well aware that I keep this blog.  He knows it has a public address.  He can access any and all of it’s content at any time.  We share passwords, and there aren’t supposed to be any secrets. Totally accessible. And he hasn’t read a word.

I’m amazed at the lack of curiosity. I don’t blame him though.

Happy blog-o-versary!

A Writer or a Hack? : 30 Days of Truth

 

Day 11 : Something people seem to compliment you the most on.

(Note:  I started writing this two months ago)

This prompt could not have come at a better possible time.

In my real life, there isn’t much I get complimented on. In fact, I just asked my husband his thoughts on this prompt. His response? A poor joke, followed by a, “I don’t know.” CoF, seriously, I think C.S. needs some husband boot camp.

All of the little girls at work love my hair. An elder creeper, insisting to talk to me despite me clearly wearing earphone and typing on WordPress for Blackberry, told me that I had pretty eyes. I was pretty glad the bus pulled up to the curb moments later.

Otherwise, I get quite the opposite of compliments. It’s okay, I’m used to it.

Here on WordPress, and especially everyone involved with the dialogue happening here on Pendulum, and on our local mental health blog A Canvas of the Minds, compliments are plentiful. I will spare details, mostly because I am embarrassed to talk about myself. And secondly, because I’m not sure I can completely believe it. I sit here and think, “If you only knew me.”

I find that I am most complimented on my writing.  Believe me, I am ambivalent to share that for a number of reasons.  First, I know that once a person reveals what appears to be a strength, it is preyed upon.  In my youth, I was eager to display my intelligence and talents.  There was always at least one person who was eager to take me down, either out of jealousy or just to prove a point of fallibility.  Next, I am often unsure of how much truth there is in identifying a strength or talent.  There is always some doubt and question of the validity of such a claim.  What is the measure?  Is it a popular opinion?

And finally, there is the self-doubt / humility aspect.  I do not make any claim that I am better than anyone else.  I am by no means a brilliant writer, and clearly not in the league of literary greats.  Hardly by the standard of journalist and even fellow blog authors.  I am not making an attempt to solicit compliments by saying these things.  I am only stating that I have serious doubts as to the claims made of any talent I possess.  However, I will not refute any opinion, favorable or unfavorable.

However, if there is one literary strength I have, I do know of it.  I have always possessed an uncanny ability to find a verbal expression for emotions, thoughts, and experiences.  Most often, I have had people approach me and say, “You grabbed it right out of my head, as if you lived in there with me.”  Some ask, “How do you find the words?”  To which I reply, “I really don’t know.  It just comes out.”

The answer is absolutely honest when I provide it.  I am unable to identify the mechanisms that produce the detailed emotions and internal experience.  Imagination?  Experience with the experience / emotion / thought itself?  Education?  Really, it is just something that was always there.  But, I will admit that it is a craft that I’ve unconsciously refined throughout the years, just by practicing what has been just a hobby throughout my life.

I’ve mentioned this before.  My poor eyesight has always been kind of a handicap for me.  Back in my youth, my family could not afford to provide me with glasses more than once a year, or once every other year.  Often times, I would have to wear an outdated prescription for an extended period of time, as my eyesight deteriorated.  Sometimes, I would break a pair by accident, and I wouldn’t be able to get a new pair for upwards of a year.  I learned to see and identify things by shape and color, rather than fine detail.  I could identify people by voice alone.  And one of the only hobbies I could really do without any difficulty was reading and writing, because I could only see about as far as my hand could go in front of my face.  (Note:  My vision has deteriorated so badly now that I can’t even see my hand as far as my face.  In fact, I can’t even see a book at a normal distance.  But, I have the means to correct my vision on my own now.)

I suppose I could consider it a talent, although I’m not sure how I stack up.  I guess I should worry less about a basis for comparison and just do what I do, the best way I know how.

Finally, I’d like to thank the readers for their encouragement to write.  Sometimes, it’s just a matter of necessity for my mental health.  There are other times, like these projects, where it is a matter of a pleasurable hobby.  And other times, most of the time, it is a way for me to get my message out and have a sense of purpose when it comes to my own mental health.  I do not want to feel as if my suffering is in vain.  I do not want anyone to ever have the feeling that they are alone in their own struggle with mental health.  That is the worst feeling in the world, the loneliness, isolation, and fear that accompanies it.

Thanks for giving me a place to do this, encouragement to keep on, and an audience to hear me.

Notes, Vicodin, and Wounds

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I excused myself to “put Trent down for a nap”. And I curled up in the bathroom, blanket wrapped tightly around me. A safe cocoon. A straight jacket.

The intrusive thoughts came in the silence. At first, they were indistinguishable from the rest of the noise. Then, one came out very plainly, rolling as a hardly audiable murmur from my lips.

“Why?” the sobs welled in my throat as the tears poured down my face. I smalled the sobs for as long as I could.

“I am so alone,” I whispered. My face contorted. My jaw tightened as my top teeth extended out. An enormous sob was lodged in my throat. With all of the power of will that remained, I silenced it.

“He doesn’t love you. If he loved you, he would have tried.”

“Your marriage has failed.”

The voices barraged me relentlessly with intrusive thought that had no real evidence. But the absence, the distance, was enough for me to formulate theories.

I was no longer slow dancing in the burning room. I sat at the piano, alone, playing out the most sour of melodies. This had been evacuated a long time ago. I took in a lungful of dark, black smoke, and now I was choking on it.

“You should runaway. Leave your phone and just hide. It doesnt matter that it’s 30F and raining. Leave this place.”

“I won’t give up my son.”

“Break shit. Starting with dishes and glasses.”

“And then take more of a shit storm than I can handle.”

“Take handfuls of pills to make you numb.”

The crying ceased, and besides the stirring, turning wheel in my head, I was tapped out.

Desperate, as people get before they die in a tragedy, I slinked back up the stairs and into the room. The house was silent, heavy with slumber. I reached into the back of the drawer. I took a vicodin, the drug that almost killed me the last time. I didn’t care. Come what may.

Grey suicide.

After I let the drugs settle in, I started the note. i explained the fundamental problems. No affection, save for the verbal foreplay. Disinterest and dismissal. Isolation and alienation. A communication block. Walking on eggshells to keep him happy and sane. Oppressive states of living, impossible expectations. All of the things I could never say to his face.

And that was only an overview.

I decided to move forward with my impulse to leave. I planned on leaving my phone and hiding away at the trestle. Alone. A place of refuge where no one would think to look. Save for Chris, who would be unlikely to consider it.

I went into the bathroom donning only a bathrobe. It was warm. I discovered a boxcutter I had hidden nearly a year ago. the temptation was irresistible. It was the only way to make these thoughts go away. To make it all disappear and usher in the empty mind born only from numbess.

To my dismay, it was dull. I had to tear at the flesh on my still shishy hip. Five lines. One for each year we have been together. I could have kept going. I stared at the bleeding cuts, satisfied with the pain and the amount of blood I had drawn.

And I looked up into the mirror at the red nosed, disheveled girl with the wild look in her eyes. Something primal existed there. That girl wasn’t me. I was staring at a loathsome stranger.

I got up, ready to sear my skin with the hottest water I could withstand. I was ready to shave every inch of my body. I scrapped and scratched away the flesh staining me. I wanted to wash this day away.

It didn’t end there. I returned to the upstairs to find him awake. I questioned, “Have you read my note?”

“No, I’ll read it later.”

“You really should consider reading it now.”

Another excuse, “I have to make dinner,” while he continued to surf Facebook.

“It’s really important,” I pressed.

“Not right now,” he protested.

I was pushing now, “Then when?”

“I don’t know. Later,” he dismissed some more.

“A later that will never come.” I thought of all of the unread emails I had sent that went straight to archive. Not even remotely close to a priority.

“Because I don’t want to ruin my Sunday. The only time I have to relax before I have to go back to working 50 hours a week!”

In my mind, I said, “Which you *CHOOSE* to do.”

“Fine. If you do not care enough about our marriage enough to take time to read this, then I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. it can’t go on like this.”

“If you want me to read this so fucking badly, then I will.”

“No, just X it out. I’m done.” I meant it. I was finished with this marriage.

He did read it, mocking some parts of it, as I expected. I knew it wouldn’t be well received. If I spoke these words aloud, I’d suffer more dismissal and rationalizations. I’d suffer more pain through his outrage, pointing out my selfishness, neediness, clinginess, and what he considered to be my inability to see beyond myself.

We fought some more downstairs. Not tearing out throats this time. But in a heated argument. He quoted, “regarded coldy like a business associate”.

“Yes. Not even as basic as friendship. I am not a part of your personal life. I am never let in. In fact, I am pushed away, even physically.”

“I was sick, you know, after drinking more than half a bottle of tequila.”

“You’re always sick. Headache, stomach ache, body ache, anything that can hurt does.”

Sarcastically, he said, “What am I supposed to do. Go to the doctor and say, ‘My wife is pissed that I have pains’?”

“Yes, something. No more excuses. I will not except them.”

“How is it that one of us is perfectly happy? i am completely content.”

“Because the other person bends over backwards to make the other one is happy! I walk on eggshells to take your feelings into consideration and not upset you. It’s suffocating!”

He paused to think. Apparently, I had touched on something.

I know he’s going through something. But, this is no excuse. I don’t deserve this isolation. I do everything to satisfy. I don’t ask for anything out of the question.

I just want to be shown love. Satisfaction. I want him to want me. All of me. To recognize my efforts. To be delighted by my displays. To feel warm.

We reconciled. But, it’s Monday. Back to business as usual. No emails, texts. I didnt want to talk to him after work. I wanted him to suffer. To question if I was alright.

I’m not.

I thought it could be made up. I’m sure another disappointing date is upon us. He did take the time to set something up, likely out of guilt that he didn’t in advance. I wanted to spend some time on the sofa. And I was asked to sit on the floor in proximity to the sofa he laid on.

Daggers. I expected it. I wasn’t devestated. I was despondent. i warned him I was close to shutting down, just a day earlier. When I shut down, it’s over. i’ve given up. It would only be a matter of time before someone calls it quits.

Once a person is out, they are out. A wall will go up, impenetrable. And i will spend my time doing what I want, without any regard for his wants or needs. he violated mine. I may end up done with all of that.

Two more days. I’ll give him by the end of Thursday, the actual day of our wedding anniversary. After that, he’s on his own.

No more threats. Action.

I cannot suffer many more disappointments and rejections.

Faded. Tired. Uninspired.

I’m in hiding.

I can’t put my finger on it. What the hell is going on with me? I feel like I’m doing laps around it. Hotter, colder, colder, hotter. No matter how hard I search, I cannot get a grasp on the object of my torment.

This has rendered me useless. Depression, as it deepens, always has a way of crippling me and all of my abilities. But, there’s more to it than just depression. There always is. I feel it, aching in my bones, coursing through my veins as molasses.

I suppose I have gone on about depression in posts prior. But, I’d like to take some time to describe the state, and then dissect the function, or lack thereof.

It’s like being fatigued, without being physically tired or exhausted. My mind is exhausted, easily overwhelmed by the overbearing world. Too bright, too loud, too – everything. It’s too much. That’s the spark for panic. I’ll come back to this.

I don’t feel like I’m here. It’s like walking in a dream state sometimes. Things are blurred around the edges, and no matter how hard I squint, it doesn’t get any clearer. Some things cannot register when I attempt to remember them. I saw it vividly, and I can almost get it. Almost.

Almost there, but not even close.

My mind cannot draw a straight line between two ideas. Everything doesn’t fragment, as much as the ties that bind loosen. Nothing sticks, I’m teflon. It all slides away into this black abyss I’m constantly staring into.

How far down do you think it is?

Even when I am able to hold something as my own, I choke on my words. I am drowning on dry land. I sputter, but it refuses to come out.

This dreadful shadow looms over me, blocking out any sunlight. No matter where I move in my attempts to come into the sun, I cannot outsmart it. I cannot evade it, and we remain bound.

Me and my shadow.

It stands, judging me. My judgment day, yesterday, today, tomorrow, and who can know how many days I will be followed by the watchful eyes? All I see are these dark, glaring eyes from far above, peering down at me. I swallow, but a lump has grown, making each gulp like choking down broken glass.

The Panic.

Vacuums the air right from my lung, harder than getting the wind knocked out of you. And I gasp for it, like I were attempting to breathe through a straw, filtered on the tip with cheese cloth. The air is thin and scarce. Drowning, on dry land.

My nerve endings are so frayed that they are deadened, save for a few sparks that set little fires about this paper house. Paper. It could come apart at any moment. A little wetness will dissolved the whole damn thing. A good gust will blow it over. And if anyone were to come after me, they could shred it, and simply grab me up by my collar to drag me away. I’m not even sure I have the fight in me to make one last stand.

Because gravity is holding harder than usual. Everything is heavier. I am being pulled closer, and closer to the earth. And when I fall, it will swallow me up, and I will be no longer.

I press on.

But, it watches me. It invokes a gripping fear that puts the vices on my heart. If I speak, it squeezes harder. It pushes me further. I witness the world move around me, and I beg so much to be apart of it. No matter where I am, or who I am, or what I am doing, I will always only get as close as brushing the fringes with my fingertips.

. . .

Singular thoughts, even just notions, are enough to whisper me into hiding. Four concrete walls. Buried fifteen feet into myself. Radio silence.

What is there to say anyway?

I’m faded through and through. My words, my ideas, flimsy and translucent. The focus blurs, and the letters just mesh into ink blobs.

And things start falling apart.

I Ain’t Afraid of No SOPA

Emblazoned on the frontpage of Wikipedia:

Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge

It didn’t take a lot of imagination yesterday. When you went to Google, there is a giant black censor block. I logged onto WordPress, and found myself staring at a page filled with censored blogs, where there should have been featured blogs. Upon clicking, this headline sits before me:

You may not be aware of the pending legislation called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act).  It sounds good in theory.  I would know, because Representative Tim Murphy from Pennsylvania got to me first.  He declared it to be in our best interest to stop cyber terrorism.  This legislation is heralded as the great protector of our sensitive information in banks, hospitals, etc.  After I had several fraudulent charges on my joint bank account within two days of each other, two sliced and diced debit cards and no way for easy access to my money, I considered this a great thing!

Until yesterday, January 18th, 2012.  Until I was forced to open my eyes and do my civic duty by actually reading what these bills are all about.  (Thank you, President Obama for the Freedom of Information Act).

As usual, we’ve been duped.  Essentially, these bills equate to the US Patriot Act, in a manner of speaking.  The US Patriot Act is there to deny civil liberties guaranteed by our Amendments, if they suspect you as a terrorist.  They’ve set it up so that if you speak out, it can be very easy for you to disappear.

This is another step toward totalitarianism.  SOPA and PIPA seek to criminalize our freedom for information.  By doing that, they also grossly violate our First Amendment rights to write, create, and pass on information as we wish.  It grants permission to Internet Service Providers to block any information they wish.

Doesn’t this seem suspicious that these were pushed on the dawn of the Occupy Movement?  The Occupy Movement consists of local grassroots organizations that rely on the internet to make international connections between them.  What happens to all of the grassroots organizations, such as Occupy and Blog for Mental Health 2012, when our voice is stifled?

And that’s what Pendulum would look like if certain politicians had their way.  It is bad enough that many of the mental health bloggers feel the societal pressure to take refuge behind glowing monitors and clever pseudonyms.  Now, our medium and content are being threatened.  Extreme discrimination could take place.  If one party, just one, find our content to be vile, disturbing, irresponsible, or amoral, then we are likely to get shut down.

I won’t stand for that.  Personally, I want to stop this thing dead in it’s tracks.  This is my own forum to discuss mental health.  In the days of old, families would lock up their “insane” in basements, cellars, and attics.  What we would experience would be the modern equivalent.  I was tired of hiding and being disguised.  That’s why, exactly seven months ago today, I came here to be on display for all of the world to see.

It saved my life.  And, I wouldn’t know what to do without it.

If you feel that your civil liberties to talk about your mental health and special concerns are in danger of being violated, take a stand.  Do it now before it’s too late.

Google wants you to take action.

Even certain parties in the White House want you to take action.

Around the world, in the UK, individuals are taking action.

And millions of others all want you to take action against SOPA and PIPA.

Every signature on every petition counts.  Shout it out, loud and clear!

SOPA WON’T SILENCE ME!

Blog for Mental Health 2012 – A Hit!

A few days ago, I started a project I call Blog for Mental Health 2012.  I suppose, by now, the greater majority of mental health bloggers are aware of it.  I am amazed by the overwhelming response to it!  In this small amount of time, I have received a great deal of feedback, as well as the spread of it around the blogosphere.  I am nearly in tears by the enormity of it!

Thank you to everyone who is participating.  Through every writer’s participation, we are spreading awareness through our dedication.  We are openly saying that we support mental health awareness and are working our hardest to erase the stigma for every person who carries a diagnosis worldwide.  I am proud to carry a diagnosis today.  And I hope everyone who carries this badge is proud of themselves and / or someone else, too.

In addition, I’ve decided that I wanted to keep an active blogroll open to index bloggers who support Blog for Mental Health 2012.  If you would like to be on the blogroll, leave me a comment and I will be happy to add you to the list!

Currently, our participants are:

Again, if I missed a blog, please leave me a comment.  If you’d like to take the pledge and display your badge proudly, just leave me a comment with a link to your pledge page.

Again, thanks to all who took the pledge and continue to put the word out there!

The Bipolar Language

How do you describe bipolar disorder to others who do not have it?

Most of the population experiencing bipolar disorder have heralded it as something “people can’t fully understand unless they have been through it.”  Being a member of that group, I can wholeheartedly agree. In my personal attempts to convey the complexity of bipolar disorder to a non-Dx person, I have found myself at a loss for words that would do it justice. Describing emotions is putting the intangible into context.

And so much more.

Even when I am successful at touching upon the idea, I am largely incapable of even scratching the surface. The intensity, duration, debilitation, and so many other aspects seem to get lost in translation. Non-Dx people are mystified. “I feel those things, too.” Every human being has emotions akin to those that are experienced within the spectrum of bipolar disorder. Non-Dx people cannot wrap their heads around the magnitude of what creates the dysfunction. “I can control them. Why can’t you?”

Frustration ensues. Such miscommunication is an extreme aggravation. Tempers may flare. “It’s not the same thing!” It’s the same animal of a different color. In essence, similarities can be drawn, but a fault line exists between the two.

I am empathetic to the plight of a person who suffers with bipolar disorder. I have experienced the rage that boils when I feel as if I a being dismissed or preemptively judged against an unjust standard. The words above send me into elevations, like a volcano spitting lava high into the sky. At this precise moment, communications break down entirely. All hope is lost. If the villagers don’t evacuate now, total destruction is eminent.

On the other hand, using descriptive language devoid of passion fails to drive the point home. To a non-Dx person, it is any regular conversation. Words are words. It does not have the demonstrative power of action. However, action is often misinterpreted more so than words. Too many questions arise. Why? Now, we’re right back where we started.

And extreme action is likely to be met with animosity or apathy. It is ironic that when a person has a severe bipolar episode, others often fall short of providing the appropriate responses. I’ve often encountered loved ones who laid certain claims; “I am not going to tolerate this behavior.” – “Get a grip.” – “I refuse to talk to you when you’re like this.” – “Get over it.” – “Are we going to go through this, again?” Resentment. That is what perpetuates throughout repeated episodes.

The schism between people with bipolar disorder an non-Dx people grows in breadth and depth. Communication is endangered, if not completely extinct. Isolation begins, and episodes worsen. Without a support system, a non-Dx person is likely to crumble. A support system that is non-existent in the life of a person with bipolar disorder is the quickest route to utter annihilation of oneself.

I have been there. Then, I managed to navigate my way back again.

Back to the original question. How do you describe bipolar disorder to a person that doesn’t have it?

In my experience, I have worked it out. Non-Dx people do have strong emotions. These are in response to serious situations. To them, they are overwhelming; to me, it would knock me flat.

I allow the non-Dx person to draw the comparison between emotions. It is a good jumping point, although it is likely meant as a retort coming from their end. “This is not an argument. This is a discussion,” I remind myself repeatedly when tempers start to flare. I continue with the following points:

My brain chemistry is unique in the way that I become particularly reactive. That is one of many facets of bipolar disorder. Extreme sensitivity to situations that provoke strong emotion.

This may be met with a usual, “Grow a thicker skin.” or “Let it slide.”

I continue:

Recall a situation where you felt strongly about something. Like, when someone very close to you died. Or, you lost your job. Or, you found out that the love of your life cheated on you.

Okay.

Weren’t you very distraught? Even extremely sad?

Yes.

Imagine having those feelings arise without cause. Then, consider what it would be like to live months like that.

That is how I relate depression. Extreme feelings of worthlessness, sadness, and despair for long periods of time.

For hypomania, I continue like this:

Now, remember a time where you felt the best you ever did. You got a promotion or bought your first car or house. Maybe the day your spouse said yes to your proposal or the day you got married.

Yeah, those were some great times.

Now, think of what it would be like to feel that way for a long time.

That sounds awesome!

Sure, but think of a time where you were the most angry you could ever be. Someone you love lied to you or stole from you. A co-worker betrayed you and threw you under the bus. Your boss unjustly blamed you. Think of a time where you just wanted to scream and break things.

That’s the other side of the feeling good. It is being really irritable or angry constantly for a long time.

Oh, that’s not good.

No. But that’s not all. What would it be like to never really know for sure how you’re going to feel? Pretty scary, maybe? And worse, you may never know how long you’re going to feel that way.

That’s part of living life with bipolar disorder. Did you ever have a time that you did or said something you regret because you lost control for a minute?

Of course!

That’s what an episode is like. Struggling for control, every single day, because you can’t help the way you feel.

It puts the person in your shoes for a second. It helps them cultivate an understanding of the intensity and duration of human emotion that creates the dysfunction. This dysfunction has a name. It’s called bipolar disorder.

Now, I want to know. How have you gone about relating your disorder to others? It doesn’t have to limited to bipolar disorder. Non-Dx people and people of different Dx’s all have trouble relating to disorders. How do you explain what you experience?