The Unreality

How I hate staring at this empty box.  How I hate to feel as if any creation that is spawned from my mind in these moments is an unreality.  Is it not real if we believe that it is real?  Or does a consensual reality have to exist among the majority to term it as such?

I might start using terms that I have either overheard and paired my own functional definition with, or terms that I invented myself to describe some kind of phenomenon that currently has no solid description.

I know I exist in a parareality today.  Time is not syncing up correctly.  In the slower moments, I am alone in a room with myself.  I am caged in this prison, running wildly around the barred perimeter, thrashing desperately and angrily.  Those are moments where The Voice is not my friend.

The Voice, I forgot to mention in my last post, had stated at one time in the recent past that we are no longer at odds, because the greater enemy was outside of myself.  We could no longer be internally warring for control.  Personally, I considered it to be another trick and dismissed it.  But, as if right on cue, there was The Voice, sharing subconscious insight to help me navigate my troubled waters.

Listen to me.  Work with me.  I see things that you do not.

It has dawned on me.  The Voice is naturally residing in my extraconscious, the bridge between the conscious and the subconscious.  It is the only place where parareality and personas can co-exist with the exterior reality.  Truly, the exterior reality doesn’t change much.  But, the interior reality is a different story entirely.  The Voice is the voice of my deepest fears and darkest secrets conceptualized and personified.  And, we are at odds for a reason.  The Voice announces things coming from my subconscious that I do not want to be true.

However, my states of consciousness are distorted.  My conscious mind is having perceptual dysfunctions.  These distortions pass through a short-term memory and are interpreted by The Voice and others of the same nature residing in the extraconscious.  The short-term memory releases the memory into the subconscious to be stored in the long-term bank and paired with another event or emotion.  Unfortunately, that usually generalizes the emotion paired to the events with similar events and vice versa.

When things are pulled back through the extraconscious, The Voice feeds back many judgmental opinions, hardly based in any conceivable fact.  Even when there are facts, they are subjective and distorted, creating complex delusions from the word GO.  In times past, I was usually able to rely on information coming in correctly, but hardly ever information going out.  However, the information coming in does not seem characteristic of everyday stimuli.

Hallucinations and delusions, walking just a millisecond out of sync with the reality that surrounds me.

I am unsure as to whether this is considered a hallucination.  Since I was small, I could feel an emotional climate around me.  Just as some animals can sense the weather changing, I sense an emotional climate that has shifted, even slightly.  I can anticipate emotional storms, mine and others.  But, it was always perceived as just a feeling in my solar plexus and my crown, and faint words and phrases from the detuned radio in my head.  Yes, there is a lot of noise in there, mostly static.  Today, there are words I am grabbing at.

I can physically feel it as an internal sensation, just as if it were an organ.

When I am in motion, I can jar this sensation out of my hypervigilant scope.  Or, I can choose to find a way to render myself unconscious and just sleep it off.  I like the former, because of several reasons.  Firstly, medication that is supposed to put me under is ineffective right now.  And second, I am clinging to any kind of reality that I can.  Losing any of it is worse than not being able to process it correctly.  Correctly?  No, there isn’t a right or wrong.  Ummm, I’m at a loss for words at the moment.

I need to shake this before it rocks me.

Friends of Mania

All of my bipolar blogging buddies. I really, really need your help.

I wish I could write this more smoothly, and with a lot less pressure and distress. I hope this doesn’t come out a jumbled mess. I’m writing texts and emails to people and leaving out whole paragraphs, because somewhere between my head and my fingers, it slipped away. And I don’t mean it dissolved. It disappeared, though I do remember the thought process. It’s pretty confusing for a lot of people right now.

I’m a virtual stranger to mania. I mean, mania itself, not the watered down hypomania version. Hypomania and I have seen some good, bad, and ugly. There were giddy periods of time filled bubbly optimism and boundless energy. It was as if gravity had released some of it’s grip on me, and I could float free and light like a feather. The good.

The bad. The dysphoric hypomanias. Some see them as mixed episodes. I always thought of it as an angry, energetically, bad mood. They didn’t qualify as mixed, because there was no mania. Those were dark times, often short lived.

The ugly. Screaming fits, aggression, hostility, anger, resentment, the whole nine yards. But, they were just so brief. I never went through with most of my destructive, impulsive urges. Mostly, I’d internalize my anger and let it run a rampage in my mind. Turning the glass cannon toward myself.

Hypomania. Mild manic symptoms. Instead of not sleeping for days, I’d sleep between 4-6 hours each day in a week and go on better for it. Impulsive urges weren’t centered around spending hundreds of dollars on something I don’t need. They were simpler, like stashing $20 so I could buy a new blouse. Or grabbing a handful of dollar journals. It was never a make or break situation.

The rest was always there in some varying degrees of severity. Sometimes, the flight of ideas was so overwhelming that my conscious thought would turn into a detuned radio. It would fracture, and I’d have to spend some time piecing it back together. It’s always been like that. I have dozens of notebooks with scribbles all through them. Dozens of drafts sit in my queue here on WordPress.

The flight makes me ambitious. Overly ambitious. But, never so much that I ever chased an unattainable goal. I could still have a realistic view of my strengths and weaknesses. And I know where my talents lie.

I’ve hardly ever been distractable. Although, I have to laugh while writing this. I’m so far off course, I’d be surprised if anyone is still following. I may go off on a tangent, but at least I think I’m still developing my point.

So, back to the point. I’m treading deeper into these waters of mania. I didn’t realize it at first. But, I see it now. Sleep is always the first symptom. When I see my sleep dropping off, or getting to sleep is impossible, even while medicated, then I know. It’s coming.

This time was worse than ever. It would’ve taken elephant tranquilizers to take me out Thursday. I had a 30 hour day. I could have gone on, but I promised C.S. that I’d sleep. That day clocked about 3 hours. I was drinking Saturday night and still only slept 4 and a half hours. Everything seemingly went back to normal, until last night.

It was one of those nights where I glanced at the clock. 2:30AM. I’ll get 5 hours. Whatever. 3:45AM. I should probably get to bed. 5AM. Maybe I shouldn’t sleep at all. 6:30AM. I have to sleep a little.

2 hours and 15minutes. 8:44AM I woke to a text. And there was no problem.

I’m mental health counseling a friend in crisis. I’m watching my son. I’m folding and cutting inserts for my journal, and having email conversations with my husband. I’m writing this, and there is no end in sight.

What about my mood? I’m not euphoric, but I’m not my now typically temperamental self. I’m not gloomy, and I’m not expecting storm clouds. There’s no happiness, giddiness, bounciness. There is an air of superiority, a nice solid stance, and a good, sturdy grip on things. I can take on the world. I can take on my life.

And no one is going to stop me or change my mind about anything.

Mood? I don’t feel anything. I am thinking brain. I am analyzing brain. Robot mind. Not unaware of emotions, but just not feeling anything. No flatness. Just plain nothing. Because maybe I don’t have to feel anymore.

And maybe, just maybe, I am pulling through all of this after gathering my reserves. Maybe, I’ve broken free of all of my chains. Maybe, I’m free.

And maybe, just maybe, it’s possible that I’ve completely lost it.

That’s not the half of it. Not even close. Doesn’t scratch the surface. Maybe I’ll write a rambling post later. I just wanted to get some opinions on whether I should concern myself just yet or not.

Yours always,

Loony, Lovelyñ Lulu

Working Up To It

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.

Wrong.

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?

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?

Imaginary Enemies

Re-pressed from Imaginary Enemies on A Canvas of the Minds.

I should have figured that when the monologue became a dialogue that I was in some serious trouble. “The Voice” started to speak up again.

“The Voice” may be experienced uniquely for each individual. It may just be a whisper, a buzz, or a feeling. No matter, each person Dx or not has “The Voice”. In my personal experience, “The Voice” is literally that, a voice. It comes from within myself, as if I am host to two conscious minds in one physical being. It is not a hallucination, as I recognize the existence within myself. They coexist and are more than aware of the other “personality”, if you will.

I am familiar with my own conscious mind which produces these monologues that I translate to print. It forms the words milliseconds before they come to life. It repeats important information to commit it to short-term memory. It can take on a physical manifestation to transport me into the past, with all of my senses intact.

“The Voice” was born from the same conscious mechanisms that produces monologues. Suddenly, dialogues existed. These two conscious voices in my mind would deliberate everything. Sometimes, they would viciously argue. The noise was deafening. I was a woman divided.

“The Voice” fueled the fire. In depression, it perpetuates incredible delusions. It whispers, “You know you are worthless. Look at all of your failures. That’s why no one loves you, not even your family. Everyone is better off without you.”

It blames my action or inaction for all of the woes in the world. It convinces me that I am responsible for creating misery in and burden on my loved ones. All of my greatest fears are realized. My delusions are reinforced and substantiated as being reality.

In hypomania, it overcomes the other conscious voice. It is strong enough to occasionally be the only voice. It rationalizes each decision and refuses responsibility for the consequences. “I am the most awesome person in the world. They are only jealous, because I am superior. I am amazing at everything and have nothing to prove to everyone. This should be common knowledge by now.”

I become above the rules, because I alone am the exception. I am invincible, and “The Voice” reminds me at every impulse. I explode when enraged and it’s the other person’s fault. “We were having a good time and they had to be a jerk. Give it to them!” I go on a rampage because people have personally wronged me.

At one point, in the worst of the fits with The Voice, I deemed the dialogue as having three participants. The Voice had split and fused with a portion of my moral, conscious mind. And in between, there I was, watching the battle rage almost totally outside of my physical being.

My physical form started containing a world of it’s own. Everything from the outside went through a perceptual filter. It often came out too distorted to make heads or tails of what the truth actually was. How can one possibly know the reality of their own life when it Is completely relative?

The noise in my brain was overwhelming, sometimes to the point of maddening. Always, even when The Voice didn’t have an observation or remark, there was the background static of a detuned radio. Occasionally, it would pick something up, but it was always like being on the edge of a broadcast zone. Outside sounds would echo, a biting remark, a provocative line in a song, etc. It made focusing nearly impossible.

Eventually, these dialogues passed through my lips, as if they could no longer be contained in such a small space. I attempted to channel it into my writing, but I would have spent my entire day with my head buried in a journal. Sometimes, I did. I would allow these dialogues to exist in tangible world if it meant my head would be a little less noisy.

I made sure it always occurred while I was alone. At least I had that much control. I was always on foot in those days. Many of these conversations came to life en route to and from work – a brisk mile walk both ways. And I’m kind to call them conversations. Often, they were confrontations and / or arguments.

Sometimes, I, or at least some version of me, would beg it to shut up. Leave me alone!!!

How can I go away when I AM you?!

When I started Lamictal, my mind was suddenly silent. No static, or echos. I could actually fully be present in the moment I lived in. And The Voice suddenly disappeared. Oddly enough, I was scared. All of those things had been present for so long, I felt as if my brain had been deadened.

The Voice couldn’t be stifled. When I found myself engaging in silent dialogues once more, I knew something was amiss. More medication, and it was silent once more.

Today, The Voice plagues me occasionally. Typically, it is during a depressive episode, as it began before. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen during a hypomanic episode. But, The Voice has a low volume at best.

I now have clarity if thought and quality of reason to beat The Voice at it’s own game. You are not real, and I am not listening.

As The Pendulum Swings

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my blog and the psychology of color.  We are all aware that colors around us alter our perceptions about the place, people, and situations we encounter.  I live in Pittsburgh, and I experience The Grey Season throughout months primarily between November and March.  Part of this is also known as Winter.  In The Grey Season, my perceptions are altered.  Everything is just more, well, blah, for lack of a better word.  It’s depressive but not necessarily depression.

Here’s a run-down of the psychology of color.

  • Black: considered to a serious color.  Usually is representative of any subject that is exclusively serious.  It usually revolves around death.  Invokes feelings of seriousness, gloomy, and despair.
  • White: considered to be a color of purity, cleanliness, and impartiality.  It can be thought of as a clean slate and new beginnings.  White bears no judgement.
  • Grey: thought to be a color that represents mediocrity.  It is not a moving color.  It is absolutely uninspiring.
  • Red: is considered to be a color that represents aggression and anger.  Think of the bullfighters holding the red drape.  The bull naturally feels aggression when seeing the color red.
  • Orange: is a vibrant color and typically represents change.  Orange is a color that is found most in the fall.  It is the color of pumpkins in the harvest, and leaves falling from trees.
  • Yellow: thought of as a joyful color.  Yellow is the color of the sun, and the light that it brings into this world.  The sun brings warmth, and is necessary for plants to grow.  It is considered a high energy color full of happiness.
  • Green: is thought of as an intelligent color.  Green is the color of money, but also the color of plants.  It is often representative of fertility and luck.
  • Blue: considered a color of serenity.  Blue occurs naturally in the world as the largest entities.  The sky is blue.  The oceans are blue.  Many people don’t realize that the water represents the fluidity of our emotions.  Blue water is calm water.  It is healing for the mind in nature.
  • Purple: is a regal color.  The robes of kings and queens were made from precious and rare indigo dye.  It represents wisdom, respect, and stimulates the brain for problem solving.
  • Brown: thought of as a stable color.  It is the color of the very earth we walk on.  It is reliable and constant.

As you may have noticed, my banner changed.  The banner was a hand-crafted graphic of hand selected clocks.  Each clock represents a frame of mind.  And every clock represents the seconds that are passing in our lives, during this very moment.

As the Pendulum Swings is a term that represents a number of ideas and concepts.  First and foremost, it represents the swinging of a pendulum in relation to the nature of bipolar disorder.  For every swing in one direction, I experience a swing in the opposite direction.  Whether they are long swings, or short swings, the pendulum will never stop until I am dead.

As the Pendulum Swings is also a play off of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum”.  If you are interested, the link will take you to the entire text for your reading pleasure.  Poe’s writings have always resonated with me, even as a young teen.  There was something in there that seemed to describe my very nature.  I felt the title of my blog was an appropriate reference to this work.

And finally, As the Pendulum Swings represents the swinging of the pendulum as it ticks our lives away.  Each swing is a second we have either gained for ourselves, or forever lost in the folds of the fabric of time.  It is a constant reminder that we should be constantly aware of our precious mortality.  Our physical lives are actually not exclusively owned. Rather, they are on lease, and we cannot be sure when that lease will expire.  We may lose our mortal flesh, but our souls are ours to keep.

What will you gain today from your mortal seconds to assimilate into your undying soul?

Adding It Up

The Chicken or The Egg

I’ve had this talk with my psychiatrist before. What begets what, exactly? Does the episode precipitate certain events based on behaviors or does the environment spark the episode?

There’s really no clear cut answer. My largest concern has been what seems like constant fatigue and body aches. Yes, those are symptomatic of a depressive episode, of which I am especially prone to. The doctor asked me, “Well, you tell me that you are a mother, you work, you go to school, you are a wife, and you are responsible for domestic duties. Consider the amount of stress you are under and your lifestyle in general.”

I have considered those things.

Breaking It Down
Let’s take a tour through my average day. I wake up and am solely responsible for getting my son out of bed, dressed, fed, and ready for the day. Three days a week, we have either Occupational Therapy, Developmental Therapy, or Speech Therapy. My son has Sensory Processing Disorder and likely Pervasive Development Disorder. But he’s too young to have a definitive Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis.

We do that, get him off to the babysitter, and then I have to make the mad dash to get ready and out the door for the hour commute to work. Then, there’s the whole matter of navigating Port Authority, Pittsburgh’s “premiere” public transportation system. For those of you who live in or near the city, I’m sure you’ve had at least one memorable encounter. Like when the bus was especially early or incredibly late. We all know this doesn’t work when there’s a connection in town. And in most cases, there is. It’s always a nightmare.

Honestly, work is the most enjoyable experience in my day. It’s mostly stress free. There are usually two or three teachers per classroom, which makes behavior management so much easier. Most of my students come in focused, enthusiastic, and ready to learn. And all of them are loving and affectionate toward me, much like I am toward them. My boss is great. She’s a very hands off boss who trusts her employees to run their own classrooms. My co-workers are hilarious and warm. Everything about that place feels like home and family.

This is not to say there aren’t problems. My students still have behavioral difficulties. Sometimes, I do have co-workers that rub me the wrong way or interfere in my lesson more than they should. New policies are implemented that I don’t like. And my boss doesn’t always give me gold stars. It’s just like any other workplace. The only exception is that I like what I do, the people I do it with, and where I do it. Makes it a little easier to bear.

Another hour to an hour and forty-five minutes to get to the babysitter’s. We go home and I get to cleaning and cooking. My husband comes home, we eat, and then the rest of the night, it’s up to me to care for our son.

And that’s my day. I usually have a couple of hours to fight sleep because that is the only time available for me to unwind. Sometimes, I just pass out from exhaustion.

Doesn’t sound like much to some of you, huh? I’m sure there are a decent number of readers that will scoff and say, “I do waaaay more than that in a day.” Yes, you likely do. And that is the core to this.

Adding It Back Up
Bipolar Disorder or too stressful of a lifestyle? Or both? Could it be possible that I take on more than I, personally, can?

Which brings me to the core of this. I get a lot of flack for not living up to expectations, or what others perceive to be “laziness”. And I think to myself, “Why can’t I do it? Why can’t I take on everything without having a breakdown?” Sometimes I can, and sometimes I can’t.

What I exampled above it only scratching the surface. I’m not going to go into a novel sized, pity-party sounding recount of every single snag in my life. Just add in all of the incidentals. A large unexpected bill, a tough toddler day, a rough patch in my marriage, a hard day at work, family troubles, financial difficulty, etc, etc. You can draw from your own experiences and know that there is much, much more.

Honestly, why can’t I perform all of the tasks and duties required of me? It doesn’t sound very complicated. Although, to me, it is. So I push myself harder. I medicate myself more, because I am convinced that my lacking is a result of my dysfunction.

In Reality?
Which is which? Can people without disorder handle everything? Or is this deficit actually a result of dysfunction? And if it is, can medication actually resolve that?

Or is it the reverse? The dysfunction is caused by overload and can only be resolved by reduction in responsibility and stress through delegation. And how do you go about telling people, “I need help. I can’t handle my life.”?

Shifting Gears

For the last two days, I have had the pleasure of describing to you bipolar depression through my very own eyes.  However, there has been a sudden shift.  And I’m actually terrified, for the first time, by a mood swing associated with my illness.

I know the signs.  I’ve been tracking them carefully for the last two years, meticulously recording them in journals.  I generally know the rhythm too.  A depressive episode will surely follow a manic episode.  That doesn’t not mean that I cannot have two depressive episodes in a row, but there is often a moratorium, varying in length that punctuates these episodes.  I have never experienced what I am experiencing now.

Yesterday, I described that the mood was lifting, little by little.  By midnight, I wasn’t tired.  It’s not too uncommon.  I’ve been known to pull longer evenings up until about 2 am.  But 2 am came and went and I was wide awake.  3 am passed without another thought.  I was caught in a flurry of ideas and determined to get them into some semblance of existence before they scurried away.  I wanted to share these ideas.  Yes, in the middle of the night.  4am came and I had to try to sleep.  I laid there, and laid there.  Finally, sleep came.

I jumped out of bed at 9am.  And for the first time in a very long time, I was ready to take on the world.  Although I was a little groggy at first, I was not at all missing the lost hours.  I was up for any challenge.  I felt like I was on top of the world!  I could finally finish everything I started and do everything that I never thought that I would find the time for.  I would spend time with my family and clean the house and cook dinner and… on and on.  I went to work with great enthusiasm for my students today and a firm hand at disciplining them.  I was in control.  I could do anything!

It hit me at about noon, when I wasn’t getting the least bit tired.  This may be the start of a manic episode.  The pieces were all there.  It was just up to me to put the picture together.

I often dread manic episodes when I see them coming.  I know that a debilitating depressive episode is on it’s way if the manic episode is particularly intense.  But once I’m in it, I don’t think of any of that.  I don’t think about tomorrow.  Nothing bad can happen to me.  Because I can handle it.  I can handle anything that comes my way.  And I’ll do it all while being charming and looking fabulous.  Besides, things, no matter how bleak, always seem to find a way to work out.  I can work it out without a doubt.

Reality ceases to exist in a manic episode.  Everyone is my best friend.  All new experiences are good experiences.  I require constant stimulation, and usually in the form of some creative outlet or though exchanging of ideas or information.  I become impulsive.  I’ll go somewhere for no reason.  I’ll call someone I haven’t talked to in ages for no reason. I’m so creative and alive!  I’M FINALLY ALIVE!

There’s rarely a downside to my manic episodes because they are usually hypomanic in nature.  I don’t gamble because I think it’s a waste of money.  I have the impulse to shop, but there’s never any money in my bank account anyway.  Sometimes, I’m hypersexual, but I won’t jeopardize my marriage if my husband isn’t willing to cooperate.  Sometimes I fantasize about it.  But that doesn’t hurt.  Usually, I just take care of business by myself.  It’s enough to tide me over until I can get the hubby to give in.

That’s not to say that there aren’t downsides at all.  If I am manic and in an extremely elevated mood, I have the tendency to become very irritable.  Especially when things start going wrong or someone tries to make me feel bad or antagonize me.   Believe me, it doesn’t take much.  And that’s when the impulsiveness becomes a problem.  I find myself compelled to do unreasonable things.  I’m pretty pissed at my husband right now.  We had a fight.  I’ll leave it at that.  He unfairly blames me and criticizes me.  I have a list a mile long for you, buddy.  I want to wake him up and pick a fight.  I want to start a riot.  I want to take a stand and pull out the couch downstairs so he can see that I’d rather sleep on a fold out couch than be remotely near him because I’m so disgusted.  I want to force these issues that he desperately wants to avoid.  Especially, my illness and our son’s special needs.  I want to get back at him for all of the times he made me feel bad and made my depression deepen.  I want to cut him out so that I don’t have to deal with his shit anymore.

I won’t.  I might if it keeps up.  Or if this manic episode gets any worse.  I don’t suppose that it will.  If it’s mixed, and I suspect that it might be, then I’ll be back in the throws of depression tomorrow.  But in the meantime, I’m not going to let him take me down.  I’m sick of it.  He’s a selfish. self-absorbed, arrogant, bastard-coasted bastard with bastard filling.  And one way or another, he will pay.

See?  Just two days ago I wouldn’t have been saying that.  I would’ve been moping and crying about how he yelled at me.  And how I love him and if he’s supposedly loves me, then why doesn’t he recognize my illness and why does he do things to make it worse?  I would’ve been trying to work it out instead of starting a war campaign.

We’ll see where this goes.  I love mania.  It helps me do all of the things I want, be a super person, and do the things I can’t when I’m just me.  And that’s what makes it dangerous.