There are people on this earth who swear they really know me. They’ve known me for at least 5 years or more and they’ve partied with me a majority of those years. Partying with me means drinking. Drinking with me means seeing the best (inebriated) version of me and that’s the one that keeps people around. My Bipolar disorder has been a part of my life for the past 19 years. I have three friends who have known me that long and those relationships haven’t been consistent. My relationships/friendships have always been on and off. My disorder is a disastrously loud and openly hidden part of my life. No one has been around long enough to attempt to understand it. I don’t mean around as in a duration of time but around as in around me, physically. I’ve spent more time than I should alone. I also accept that that is in part to me not trusting anyone and not wanting to show that side of myself.
In all of our lives, we are faced with obstacles that seem to come when we least expect it. I’ve been through a lot during my life, from the time I was a young child. For the most part, I feel as though I have made it through pretty well. That is, I’m still functioning with what I would like to still think of as an optimistic attitude. However, inside I feel what I don’t share with others, and that is the scars that have collected through it all. Many times I hold up a smile to mask the tears behind it. I write to let my feelings out a bit, and now, I share those feelings with you.
What started out as a misdiagnosis in my teens slowly turned into a nightmare. I went from an outgoing energetic person to a miserable shut in who never left the house except for work and necessities. I had no desire to be around friends and family, isolating myself from everyone except online interactions. I was on my last string of fighting off my demons before I finally asked for help from my family.
My father is bipolar (BP), he goes through periods where he calls me so excited he can barely contain himself. He tells me he has the best new idea to make him millions. He anxiously describes the stories he is writing. When I see him in person he is clean, shaven, and a healthy weight. I cannot smell the remnants of alcohol on his breath. He smiles, he laughs from the pit of his stomach, and he is kind to me. Other times, I cannot get a hold of my father for weeks, when I stop by his house to make sure he is alive - the house is trashed, he has not eaten, or showered in days. He is unable to return any calls and empty alcohol bottles riddle the floor. So it goes, a constant cycle. Growing up I assumed he just did not care, when he did not show to pick me up on his scheduled days; I assumed he had more important things to do. The cruel reality is my father’s genetic makeup controls his life. When he is manic, he is ecstatic, he is responsible and present. Comparatively, when he is depressed, I watch him slip slowly away into the abyss.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder about 14 years ago and I must admit, it was a relief to know there was something wrong with me, something tangible I could label, a way to understand the inner turmoil; it felt good to know other people were like me too, it felt good to know there was a reason (chemical imbalance I was told). Before the diagnosis, I just thought I was fucking crazy and was too scared to tell people the real truth, the ups and downs and sometimes the daily mood swings which totally controlled me. I hid it all out of fear. Fear that people would not understand. I knew something from quite a young age; I knew I was different in some way.
Grey or Gray areas... Nothing in life is EVER black and white.
If anyone reads this when I have passed to the big bad beyond I shall be posthumorously embarrassed. I shall spend my entire afterlife blushing.
I hate bipolar. It’s awesome!
I guess it’s true what they say that things often have to get worse before they get better. That’s probably because we tend to make things worse before we’re ready to make them better. I know, for me, it’s easier to wallow in self-pity and just wish things were different and then blame others for my situation than it is to do the work needed to push on toward a brighter tomorrow.
This past Wednesday, I had what would be considered a mental crack. Not a complete breakdown, but I had broken down throughout the day. Waking up on my day off, I had experienced a series of fluxes in my emotions that all lead up to me feeling empty and overflowing with tears. You may be wondering why or even when did I figure out that I was mentally cracking. Through the tears and anguish, I had begun to search out, to figuring out the reasons why. Why was I so damn sad when everything around me has been going well? Why was I feeling so empty that mustering the feeling of being "full" was a difficult task, especially in the things that had been going very well for me?
When I was eight, I felt true sadness for the first time; real, deep sadness. The kind of sadness that can’t be cured with a hug from your mum.
My aunt, who, like me, struggles with mental illness (me, bipolar disorder, her chronic depression). We've begun to exchange letters to track our comings and goings in hopes of at least to keep a steady diary charting our moods, at most to offer one another consolation and guidance to live fuller, more stable lives.