Foreword: Trigger Warning! The following topics include very sensitive subjects. If you suspect that you may have a trigger contained within, please refrain from reading. Reader discretion advised.
Blink. Blink. Blinking away. The cursor sits at a standstill while I stare ahead, poised, awaiting the words to flow out of my mind, through my arms, and out of my fingertips. Nifty title for some heavy stuff. And though there is plenty of content, I have no clue how to provide an introduction. A part of me flinches, and I find my fingers stiffening in hesitation.
No, you’re going to do this today.
Awhile ago, The Voice emerged from the jumbled noise in my head and spoke to me again. The Voice was back at feeding my paranoia and preying on my fears. I cannot understand how this conflicting persona came to be, though I tried to make sense of it in a theoretical psychology essay entitled, “Conscious, Subconscious, and Extraconscious”. I can only recall the emergence in my early teens, probably nearly coinciding with the onset of symptoms.
The Voice had never become external to myself. Until late April, mentioned in Lulu-Lunacy. Moments in time started happening where The Voice had taken on a complete audio hallucination. It had gone beyond paranoid delusion into a complete distortion of my reality. I would have believed that The Voice was a real external entity. It sounded as real as someone sitting next to me on the bus, whispering in my ear. The words were loud, crisp, and clear. But, there was no body to go with it.
I knew it wasn’t real, because I had been hearing it for as long as I could remember. However, I’ve always been able to identify it as a part of my conscious mind. This was detached. The words coming out were not words that came out of a deep, dark place. I had never considered going off of my medication. I had always regarded them as something that made me better. Instead, The Voice was telling me that the medication made me dumb, like cattle, so I could be led around by the neck.
That was my first experience with solid psychosis.
I started to believe that some kind of external source was putting The Voice in my head, and had been doing so for years. I just couldn’t hear it, because I was purposefully not listening. This reason The Voice was always one step ahead of me was because that external source had been monitoring me for years. I was chosen. And it was at this point that they wanted me to finally step up to take back my life from others who were trying to steal it for their own gain.
Yes, it was that real. Do I still think that? I have no idea.
Here’s the truth. I am not one solid person, as I began to mention in Conscious, Subconscious, and Extraconscious. I have a post drafted about my various personas and how some differ greatly from others. Really, it’s more of a spectrum. It’s almost dissociative, but not quite. A part of me is still present as a spectator while other personas take the wheel. But, I am almost in a disembodied kind of state. Sometimes, it feels like I am in a third person kind of state completely outside of myself. Other times, I don’t feel like I am present at all, and clearly I wasn’t. Chunks of time go missing and events get hazy.
Sometimes I feel like I am struggling for control of my own consciousness.
Then, there are the pararealities. I describe them in many of my more lucid, vague sounding posts. Most of the time, I feel like I am a time traveler. Except, I am not really akin to Doctor Who or Marty McFly or other time travelers. I don’t really go from this time period to other time periods. I live in pararealities. These pararealities run alongside and often overlap the linear continuum most people reside in. Here’s a visual representation of reality and pararealities:
To put it in words, I do not experience life and time in a linear way, though I do experience it in the same direction as others. Time speeds up and slows down. Some moments last forever, and sometimes days go by with a blink.
The parareality is a reality that is similar to our own, but doesn’t quite operate in the same way. It’s like living life a millisecond off of everyone else, either faster or slower. Sometimes, the parareality is a little more detached, like in the farther regions of the red and blue zones. But, they are adjacent realities overlapping in areas. More than two pararealities cannot be experienced at once, and although a spectrum may exist, it’s not like a theory of parallel dimensions where there could be dozens totally different from one another. They are much the same, but it’s often like putting a different lens on a pair of goggles.
I realize that what I am saying is complete insanity. It’s the realization alone that prompted me to stop writing and start dodging. Silence fell over me, because nothing I was thinking or feeling really made any sense when propped up against facts. And then The Voice says, “Or maybe it does.”
It’s a rabbit hole situation. I am Neo, and I’m opting for the red pill, though I am not entirely sure whether it is going to lead me to the real reality, or deeper into the delusions and hallucinations. It just feels like I’ve been taking the blue pills too long. Everything feels so forced. Life shouldn’t be forced, right?
Now, we get to the sick parts.
I have been keeping secrets. Apparently, it is what I do the best of all. I am so skilled at illusion that I can deceive myself without even knowing it to begin with.
Enough with the pomp and circumstance. Get on with it.
I am still taking my medication, though I do not want to. I don’t want to drink alcohol anymore, not because alcohol is bad for me and it makes me feel bad. (It is and it does). Alcohol is distorting a reality that my mind is already challenging as being real. That’s all good right?
No, I have ulterior motives.
I am continuing to take my medication and to stop drinking alcohol for a very disturbing reason. These are all efforts to continue to sustain an obvious mania that has been going on for – since at least late March, but it was a component of a mixed episode at that point. It didn’t become clear mania until late May.
I am also doing these things to keep my weight down. Did you know that Wellbutrin has been known to exacerbate symptoms of eating disorders?
Wait, Lulu. You don’t have an eating disorder.
It’s probably pretty clear to those that have ED. The restrictive diet, the compulsive exercise, talk of negative body image. It’s never been something I wanted to admit. First, I didn’t think that it was a problem. It’s not, not physically anyway. Second, even if it was a problem, I didn’t want anyone to catch on to the behavior. First, because I so fear obesity. I didn’t want anyone to stop me. And second, because I didn’t want anyone to look down on me anymore than they already do. It’s bad enough that I hate me most of the time. (Unless, I’m manic when I love me).
I binge sometimes when I’m sad. I purge it when I’m disgusted. I purge when I’m nervous. I purge when I feel self-destructive. I purge when the scale is giving me an unacceptable number. I restrict when I’m very sad and self-loathing. I run to run away from all of this, to run away from myself. I run to see that number plunge. I restrict to spite myself. I restrict to self-destruct.
I have an eating disorder(s).
Finally, I am still in the grips of self-injury.
I am not proud. I am not showing off. I am not crying out for help, because at this point, I don’t even think I really want help. I am being honest, because my dishonesty was killing me. I’m supposed to be discussing mental health topics. And here we are. The very start of everything. Honesty in the face of the monster.
I have always thought of myself as a pretty open book. I don’t flat out lie. If I am asked a question, I will always try to answer it honestly and to the best of my ability. Any misinformation is either from a miscommunication or an accidental omission.
I have been having symptoms far enough outside of the scope of BP II that it made me start challenging my diagnosis.
A diagnosis is a label. A label is just a label, and it shouldn’t make much of a difference, right? The point is that I’m gulping down pills of every color that should apply to every disorder under the sun.
At first, I didn’t want to question it, and I prayed that the extreme symptoms would subside. I had hoped they were circumstantial and as soon as the situation was resolved, the symptoms would resolve. Somehow, I forgot a key element of disorder. It doesn’t resolve when a situation resolves. That’s why it’s termed “disorder” instead of “moodiness”.
C.S’s appointment came and went without change. No relief came for either of us. In fact, we were both more distraught than ever with the news that we would be waiting another five weeks until there was a definitive diagnosis. And even then, that’s just the start a treatment. It could be years before things start to turn around.
In the meantime, I’ve found myself in agony, like a person huddled in a cold cave, waiting out the storm. I have always been in the habit of putting others first, because they rely on me in times of need. I know what it’s like to have the rug pulled out from under me when I’m in the most desperate of need. I’d never leave a person near and dear to me to fend for themselves. Especially when they have explicitly asked for my help.
Things get better. Things get worse. It is rollercoaster of daily twists and turns, ups and downs. And I couldn’t understand why my mood and behavior were so unstable. The medication works when I’m not particularly sensitive to external stressors. The inner turmoil doesn’t exist without it. But once a person has stirred the pot, it puts things in motion.
I started my excavation. I started reading old journals, some as far back as twelve years ago. Certain recurring symptoms emerged, and these were exactly the ones plaguing me now. The ones I find exist somewhere outside of BP II.
I examined my mood chart that I began in the tail end of my most recent depressive episode. Consistently low scores. And then, suddenly, the points were very high one day, and very low the next. I am careful to chart at the same time each day, so that the scores can be considered consistent.
When I noticed the trend as it was happening, I termed it “dysphoric hypomania”. The lows weren’t sadness, it was rage and anxiety. That was, until it went beyond the definition of “hypomania”.
Energetic despair. That’s the only way I can describe it in retrospect. I started running to burn off some energy, anxiety, and emotion. I clung so hard to anger, because I couldn’t cry. And when I did cry, it was in unpredictable bouts. I would start, and everything would come flooding out.
Then, there were the fits of rage. I would find myself beyond irritable – extremely agitated is closer to the term. I became more obsessive than usual. Things had to be a certain way. My anxiety was so far through the roof that I found myself trembling at times. Chunks of memory started to fall away, and I began frequently misplacing important items. It was a recipe for recurring explosions and tantrums.
Then, I began terming what I was seeing as a “mixed episode”. Impossible for BP II, right? So, BP I? It shouldn’t matter.
The question plagued me again. Why has my medicine afforded me shorter episodes and longer stability if I’m “getting worse”? Why all of a sudden?
It didn’t add up. Obsessions and compulsions, as they were happening, were not within the criteria for anything on the BP spectrum. I started having full-blown psychotic episodes in short bursts. But, I still didn’t quite meet the criteria for a full blown “manic” episode, required in a mixed state.
As things became rockier between C.S. and I, old, very painful memories started emerging. I’d feel the pang of the emotional reaction to a situation that was “familiar”, and then I’d have the flashback. But, the flash wasn’t always strong enough for me to pin it down completely. For a millisecond, I was in that moment in my past. Not always long enough to identify it.
But, they were plaguing me at times unprovoked. Times that I allowed my mind to wander. Awful feelings would come out of acts that hardly pinged me in the past. But then again, I had been drunk and numb.
That’s not BP anything. Not even close.
I had been wanting so desperately to solve this on my own. There are so many things I can’t imagine speaking out loud to anyone. Even harboring the flicker of the memory and the attached emotion is hard enough.
I took some inventories online. I started to put labels on things.
OCD – for the obsessions, the thoughts that kept recurring, the compulsive need to check, wash, count, have certain items on my person, etc.
PTSD – for all of the flickers and flashes of things in that dark closet. For all of the things rattling the inside of the Pandora’s box that has been dormant for so long. For all of the hurt, neglect, and abuse I had never spoken a word to any professional about.
BP I – to cover the “mixed” behavior and paranoid delusions, and auditory hallucinations.
Then, there was a label for the jar that shocked me.
Borderline Personality Disorder???? What?
Most of my research in the past has been centered around affective disorders, theories surrounding the causation of dysfunction, and the cognition / behaviors that sustain it. I am broadening my horizons to include many mental health disorders and developmental disorder, particularly autism.
I have had a theory for awhile that hinged almost completely on curious connections I’ve made between bipolar disorder and autism spectrum disorder. Doctors ruminated on the potential for my father and bipolar disorder. By the way my parents describe his mother, it didn’t seem surprising.
We’ve always assumed that my “affective disorder” (assumed Major Depressive Disorder in my teens) was a result of my father. Assumptions are changing around parents house in light of serious mental health symptoms popping up on my mother’s side of the family. My grandmother has “dementia”, politely termed to describe her psychosis. And my aunt who cares for her has developed paranoid delusions. She has isolated herself, because she is sure that the family is “against” her and consorting with one another behind her back.
These things don’t come out of nowhere. They become present after certain events happen, whether they are biochemical or a result of external stressors.
So, why is it that two parents with suspected “affective” disorders bear one child with moderately severe classical autism and another with bipolar disorder? Another generation passes. Two parents, one with an affective disorder and another with a mental health disorder, both with psychotic features, bear a child with mild Autism Spectrum Disorder : Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified?
I’m not at liberty to speak in detail about my husband’s disorder. I have determined that it is up to him; it is his own business, and it is best for his mental health to know that I am only vaguely referring to it as a “disorder”. I will leave it at that.
We have actually been speaking now, sometimes at great length concerning symptoms, dysfunction, and identifying with one another. Many of these symptoms seem to revolve around sensory disturbances. For me, I’ve gone to great length to describe times of sensory overload caused by a removal of a “sensory filter”. It’s a chicken and the egg conundrum. Does the emotional disturbance make me more susceptible to the sensory integration and processing dysfunction or vice versa?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a great deal of literature on sensory integration dysfunction and mental health disorders. However, there is a wealth of it, as it is considered a component of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
It is thought that the main feature, besides pervasive behaviors, is sensory integration dysfunction / disorder. It is observed that children with ASD fall into categories of sensory “seekers” or “avoiders”. Seekers are thought to have dampeners on sensory imput. Avoiders are opposite and have a sensory overload. But, in most cases, there is usually a combination of the two. Some seeking and some avoidance. Unfortunately, avoidance is considered the most recognized behavior, as it is considered the most dysfunctional.
I can only speak for me. In episodes of hypomania, I become a seeker. One would think there should be an avoidance, but in hypomania, I cannot get enough. My brain eats it at hyperspeed and processes it just as fast.
However, mania is a different story. Often, sensory stimuli overloads an overly active mind. It makes manic symptoms worse. Sometimes, the racing thoughts become fragmented and my thinking becomes disordered. My speech becomes disrupted and incoherent, because the intergation of external stimuli cannot be effectively integrated. And an overload occurs.
In psychotic states, the sensory stimuli becomes confused and distorted. Places and people may become foreign and strange. Hallucinations can occur, distorting sensory stimuli even further. And delusions are fed by misinterpreted stimuli.
Mixed states are the worst. As everyone knows, a mixed state is probably the most unstable a person with bipolar disorder can get. Sensory stimuli is integrated, but poorly. The cognitive associations are often misinterpreted and can spark even worse symptoms.
A sensory overload is common in this state. The internal struggle is enough to shy away from anything stimulating, because of the cognitive inability to process it properly.
I’m still working on interpreting mixed states, the dysfunction, and how I experience it. The problem I face is that many new symptoms I did not expect surfaced at the same time.
Moving to depressive states. I find that I am often very easily overstimulated, though my mental state is dulled. My mind suffers a certain retardation of congitive and physical function. The problem the occurs is the foggy state makes the processing of stimuli difficult. It deepens emotional distress when presented with too much. I simply do not have the processing speed.
So, there are several functions that cause the dysfunction. There are a few facts that remain. I am an auditory avoider when I am unable to process external stimuli due to aggitated or foggy states. I am a tactile seeker in these states, with the explicit exception of psychosis. In (hypo)manic states, I am a motion seeker, as it calms. In depressive states, I am a motion avoider, but a visual seeker. Contrastingly, I am a visual avoider in (hypo)manic and psychotic states.
I could go on from there, but I won’t. I am more inclined to seek input from others. Examine your behaviors of seeking and avoidance. What do you find?
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.
Each time I go to write, I get a blank. Is it a blank, because I feel as if I don’t have anything important to say. Or is it a blank, because if I make a certain statement, then it is real. It becomes something tangible in this world, not only for me, but for others, and I will eventually have to come nose to nose with it.
I’ve grappled with this before. Making certain admissions. I do not lie as much as I turn a blind eye. I rationalize. I attempt to will it out of existence. But, it is just not that easy.
Simply – I am in the midst of a depressive episode.
Why was that so hard?
There is a certain hesitation for me to use the word depression. It is not a word that I use loosely; others use it as a part of their regular vernacular to describe sadness. Depression is not sadness. Depression has a depth beyond that of sadness, loneliness, isolation, self-loathing, or any other word. No amount of words arranged in any way can accurately depict depression, and do it any kind of justice.
The hesitation to term it as depression stems from the idea that, if it doesn’t feel like the worst I’ve ever felt, then it’s not depression. I have faced more gruesome depressions than this one. With the admission comes a certain fear. If I am to term it as a depressive episode, then it really will be such, in the worst sense of that word. It could worsen the episode itself by acknowledging it.
I have found it so interesting that Bipolar Disorder has this grandiose spectrum to encompass so many different types and symptoms. However, they are exclusive to mania. Depression is just depression, and it by itself is MDD, or unipolar depression. Except, now psychologists are starting to recognize symptoms that are related to atypical depression. However, by reading through these symptoms, it seems as if it may be exclusive to unipolar depression.
How much research has been done to distinguish unipolar depression from bipolar depression? So far, the only thing that separates the two is the existence of hypomania / mania. In theory, there wouldn’t be a difference. I get the feeling that there is, and it is significant enough to have a separation between the two.
So far, the mood spectrum looks like this:
But, I really think that’s being too broad about it. I fall smack dab in the middle of Bipolar II, no full on psychosis equals no full on mania, even if I have delusions. I wouldn’t even suspect that I have full on mania, anyway. Even with delusional thinking, I can honestly say that there has never been a time where I have been hypomanic where I lost touch with reality.
People with mood disorders are familiar with the depressive symptoms. But, I’ll sum them up:
Sadness, anxiety, irritability, Loss of energy, Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or worthlessness, Loss of interest or enjoyment from things that were once pleasurable, Difficulty concentrating, Uncontrollable crying, Difficulty making decisions, Increased need for sleep, Insomnia, Change in appetite causing weight loss or gain, Suicidal ideation, and / or Attempting suicide.
Symptoms of atypical depression:
Increased appetite, Unintentional weight gain. Increased desire to sleep. Heavy, leaden feeling in the arms and legs, Sensitivity to rejection or criticism that interferes with your social life or job, Relationship conflicts. Trouble maintaining long-lasting relationships, Fear of rejection that leads to avoiding relationships, Having depression that temporarily lifts with good news or positive events but returns later
These are all familiar. I’ve bolded the ones that I’m experiencing at the moment. It seems that I’m bordering on the more atypical part of depression. This is the kind of depression that no one really tells you about.
I had mentioned my diagnosis of Bipolar II, resulting from non-psychotic “manias” clinically termed “hypomania”. Fair enough. Let me put a question out there. Has anyone ever experienced a psychotic depressive episode?
I have. And I have mentioned this to doctors on several occasions. I will have breaks with reality when I am depressed. I have severe delusions, almost completely the opposite of delusions of grandeur. I will have severe paranoid episodes – in fact, I just had one. I can have myself convinced that everyone hates me and is out to destroy my life. It makes me combative. I will sometimes invent conversations that never happened, just because my brain contorts a criticism.
Mayo Clinic appended this in fine print below their list of classical depressive symptoms:
When a person with psychosis is depressed, there may be delusions of guilt or worthlessness — perhaps there is an inaccurate belief of being ruined and penniless, or having committed a terrible crime.
Perhaps? I’m nearly positive that exists because not enough research on bipolar depression versus unipolar depression exists to accurately differentiate between the two.
There are a few questions that remain. Again, not to just the bipolar population but the unipolar population as well, have you ever experienced a psychotic depressive episode? Is this more commonly found in MDD, BP II, or BP I?
Because if this is common amongst all populations, then the mood spectrum should look more like this:
Pause. Suspended in reality. There is only today. No yesterday. And no tomorrow. Just today. Time thought of as a linear concept becomes only that. A concept.
In the pause, I see pieces strewn about. Some torn from other realities, others borrowed, and some with no known origin. The tapestry weaves itself using these bits, with all of it’s snags and imperfections. The universe, in itself, is imperfect.
Shifted, a nanosecond’s beat off of the pounding drum. Syncopated, life in the eighths, sixteenths, thirty-seconds – meshing two different time signatures. A skip, skip, skip, the record bounces the needle about, as it tries to navigate through the scar, marring the sleek grooves. Re-re-re-repeating passages, repeating the same phrases.
Gaining momentum. G-gai-gaining, racing, and a burst, blasting forward. Time breaks up into less than moments to reside in. Reality has no fluidity, it’s cohesion being pulled at the seams. Each second is independent of another. In between are blurred strands, a plethora of life within life. Scarce are discernible planes of time that can sustain this particular consciousness.
Planes, islands unto their own, in the continuum. Each contained within their own space, intersecting reality when a ripple passes through the line. Magnetic, they pull the scraps from the currents of light and energy coursing through the invisible stream. Thoughts are whole, yet fragmented when fished from that stream.
It slows, screeching to a near halt. Reality takes on a certain buoyancy, a fermata punctuating the melodies and rhythms. This is the closest any entity may approach the void without being consumed. A near stop, the world around keeps pace all around, though it appears in slow motion. Each minute is an accented passage. It is one moment for several eternities.
Living a disjointed reality, time being nonsequential, so contorted that it becomes ethereal. Double exposed film, putting images over images. One within another, shifting, overlapping, separating.
It’s almost as if I am a time traveler, but I am the vessel. This is ultradian cycling. Passing between these realities in incohesive skips and discontinuatations causes heavy destabilization of every molecule, every tip of each nerve, each overloaded synapse. Worse for the wear, much more intense than individuals episodes with any width, length, or depth.
Fourteen days today. At least since I had my first suspicions.
It’s all been swimming around my head for at least a week now. I’m moving at a breakneck pace and it doesn’t feel like I’m even going anywhere. I thought I walked the tighrope, but I was wrong. I’m grasping the pendulum with all of my might, trying not to fly, trying not to fall.
A swing upward puts me in zero gravity. It’s that split second suspended in time for an hour, a day. And I’m flying – it’s thrilling! Everyone is my best friend. I want to share all of my joy and stability with the world. I want everyone to have this incredible feeling for a moment, even just for once I their lives.
The highs are beyond high, so high that it is starting to go beyond distorting my memory to erasing it. I live a whole lifetime in a day that ceases to exist in the others that follow. Yet, there are physical remnants. If there were no evidence, those thin, wispy snapshots could be too transparent to stand as memories. And only a gaping hole in time would remain.
The downward swing inevitably comes. There are too many words to attribute to that experience. There is the terror of the fall. The air rushes out of my lungs and completely deflates me. I’m less than flat, I’m sunken. And all I want is to disappear. To implode into myself, leaving no remnants of my existence at all. But, that’s impossible. My prints exist everywhere now, far and wide.
Sometimes, when a building has been wounded, there is a question of whether it will implode, explode, or topple. That is my question. There is clearly a raging fire going, roaring into my own ears, dizzying my senses. Plumes of smoke. Are they signals? What does it mean?
What do I f@*!#ing want with myself? How do I get off this ride!?!?
Ultradian cycling they call it. Why? After so long, after almost three months of stability, or maybe just hibernation or stagnation, why this all of a sudden?
I’m in love. I’m in hate. There is black, inky, onxy and there is white, pure, fresh pearls, and the biggest smear of grey in between. Striped in monochrome, paint streaks of different textures. It all feels different and still the same.
Day 05 : Something you hope to do in your life.
As it stands, one can find me within the wardrobe amongst the coats, between the real world and my Narnia. This is not the Narnia as others know it. It is the absolutely surreal, ever shifting landscape, containing both horrific monsters and beautiful, majestic creatures. All of that world is tucked away, within a wardrobe, in an innocuous cranny of my home. Many unsuspecting people could stroll up to it, jam their coat in, and never give this unassuming wardrobe another thought.
But, this world is not meant to exist tucked away. This world lives inside of me, wrapped up in an old world map, tied with a satin ribbon. It waits to unfurl for all of the world to see.
Snapshots of this map are contained within every word, in each piece that I carefully create. Some have been privy to view them, scanning the terrain, gazing upon the horrors and magesty. Others have been lucky enough to set foot on the Terra Amici, The Land of Friends, specifically set aside to welcome guests who have braved the Sea of Aliquim. And others, those closest to me, have journeyed through the deepest, darkest places of Lunaria.
I dream of the day that I allow Lunaria to emerge from the wardrobe. This is the day that the earth will quake around me to birth Lunaria from within. I will invite others to explore at will, without the requirement of the confines to Terra Amici. To brave the fiery mountains, volcanoes spewing molten rock,shifting and shaping the landscape daily. The mountains grow higher, only to be whittled away by the erosion. Bask in Bad Wolf Bay. Peer deeply into Mare Demersi, but still fear to tread too closely. Lose themselves in Vac Saltus, and navigate the sullen, sunken lands of Val Mergullado.
All of this, one day will be accessible to all. Lunaria will rise. I can openly narrate the tales and history of Lunaria without fear of persecution and ostracism. I hope to accomplish my quest of bringing this all out of the wardrobe. I want others to see what my world, one world of a woman with Bipolar Disorder looks like. It possibly connects to other places, to weave a global patchwork of personal worlds, connecting us all, to encompass every single person who has been hiding their own Narnia.
I hope to have a voice that can bring this all to the world. And I hope to build the strength to do it.
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.
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.”
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.
Weren’t you very distraught? Even extremely sad?
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?
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?