Living With Bipolar Disorder

by Elizabeth Arnold 2 years ago in bipolar


Living With Bipolar Disorder

Today I woke up on the sofa again. I feel safety and comfort in the corner of the sofa surrounded by pillows and my two cats. I leave the television on so the voices make me feel less alone. I go to the kitchen and make the first of many cups of coffee. I can use a box of K cups in one day. This box has 12 cups in it. I count my cigarettes because I am virtually penniless and don’t know how I’ll even buy my next pack. I contemplate quitting cigarettes but my current state of turmoil won’t let me. I wrack my brain trying to figure out how I’ll get through another day without money. It’s so isolating to feel this bad and have no one who understands, no one who can even deal with your presence because you have absolutely nothing left to give.

I wonder what it’s like to be “normal”? To have a job for years at a time, a relationship that lasts a lifetime, to love and be loved. Not being judged by people because although you seem perfectly fine outside but inside, pieces of you are being killed off little by little. You reach out to people but no one returns your texts or calls because either they’re afraid of your neediness, you did or said something to offend them when you were manic and impulsive, or they think it’s just “all in your head”, and there’s really nothing wrong with you.

I’ve described it before as being in the bottom of a well, treading freezing water, screaming at the top of your lungs, and no one can hear you. When you manage to build up enough strength in your frozen, stiff body to try and climb the slippery, slimy walls, you never get very far because something always obstructs your ascent or knocks you back down into the stagnant, icy, depths again.

I take my medications as prescribed but they aren’t miraculous. I would go to a therapist but I don’t have the money. My bank account is in the negative. I’m waiting for unemployment. I’m waiting for disability. I’m waiting for my useless case worker to actually help me. I sit here, as one by one, I lose my television services, my electricity, my phone services, begging friends to help me. I eat my pride like a stale piece of bread. I ask people for money.

I feel so bad sometimes that I think the world would be better off without me. I have nothing to contribute. I can’t find the energy to even try. My dirty laundry fills baskets in mountains. I could load it in my truck and take it to my mother’s to wash but my mother preys on my weakness and will reduce me to a pile of nothing with her insults and her utter annihilation of my self-esteem, so I stay away.

I pine over past relationships with women who were never intelligent or compassionate enough to understand my cycling behaviors created by this inherited curse. There’s no such thing as unconditional love when you’re bipolar.

I write daily in my journal. Record my dreams and nightmares when I remember them. I make art that sits in a corner and gets dusty because I’m too afraid of rejection to show them anywhere. Now, I’ve mustered up enough courage to show my art but can’t come up with the twenty dollar entrance fee. Pathetic.

I’ve been researching writing sites online to tell my story. I found one but I’m scared. I’m scared it will be like my poetry books, my blog, and my art. Mostly unseen by any other audience but friends and family who just humor me because they feel like they have to. They stigmatize me as crazy.

As it starts to become night, I pace. I do everything at once, rotating from painting, to drawing, to typing my novel I’ll never finish. I walk to the mailbox in case I might hear from the literary agent I contacted a month ago who hasn’t returned either my snail mail or my email. I know I’ll never be good enough to be anything but self-published. I can’t even do that anymore because I don’t have the money. It becomes darker as the night progresses and I just want to sleep. I take my night time medications NOT AS PRESCRIBED. I take double the dose sometimes triple the dose, hoping to shut my brain off for the night. I over-think myself to sleep.

Then the cycle begins the following morning. However, some mornings, I actually DO feel a little glimmer of hope. That this day will be different. This will be a good day. I’ll feel “human” for a change.

I write about a day in my bipolar life so that other people suffering from mental illness know they aren’t alone. I write so “normal” people may understand that mentally ill people are not all crazy and that bipolar depression is real, suicidal thoughts are real, struggling every single day is real. I don’t live this way on purpose. My brain is genetically flawed. Until people start to understand and accept mental illness as reality, we stay in the shadows, stigmatized and alone. Tortured, on a regular basis, by our own minds.

Elizabeth Arnold
Elizabeth Arnold
Read next: Never In the Cover of Night
Elizabeth Arnold

I am a lesbian, bipolar, artist, writer, and nurse. I have been a nurse for 30 years in Long Term Care. I love writing, art, and music. I hope anyone reading my stories can find something helpful they can apply to their own lives. 

See all posts by Elizabeth Arnold