When people ask me what Bi-POLAR is like and no one really asks BTW but if they did ask I would say do you want the short answer or the long answer?
The long answer is long. Everyone knows about he Highs and Lows but do they know how torturous and dangerous they are? Yes, The Mania can be fun and creative and sexy but it is very dangerous because you feel invincible like you are the archangel walking down the street with a bullet proof vest on. You can do know wrong. Kind of Like how teenagers feel because their so dangerously young and hormonal. Its dangerous because you lose your ability to make decisions correctly. Do you know you lose about 95 percent of the decision making part of the brain so if we are manic and untreated we can possible only have a five percent ability to make logical decisions correctly. Add alcohol, drugs and lack of sleep to that equation, not good! That’s crazy! 5 percent. Many undiagnosed Bi-Polars self medicate with booze and drugs to help kill the pain or to help us feel normal or sometimes to just help us feel different. Sometimes all you want to do is just feel different than the horrible painful state your stuck in. When in a manic state your sex drive can be heightened to a high and dangerous point. There are men that know this and prey on females that are in manic mode. Mania can make a woman or man “loose” or as they call it because their brain is not functioning correctly. This can be very dangerous and lead to bad choices and risky behaviors. We all know what that can bring on. That’s the problem with these kind of mental-disorders. One bad thing can lead to another bad thing which leads to another bad thing and after awhile bad things are all you have.
It is like a hamster wheel of hell. The disease generates problems and then doesn’t give you the tools you need to handle them. That’s not fair and it can be very dangerous.
People say Just be positive. Are you kidding me? I am positive. I was positive my whole life. I got up and went to school and played sports and went to practice and made music and did my homework and was nice to my friends. If I wasn’t positive I wouldn’t have survived to this point. The only reason I got to this point was because I was positive. I get it that there were periods of my life where I was overwhelmed and negative. It’s called mental illness. When you’re telling a person who becomes Imbalanced or mentally ill to feel or do something specific it’s like telling a scorpion not to sting you. That’s Mental Illness and dammit I am positive.
You can’t do and think what your supposed to do and think and be a productive human being when your in a mentally -ill state. It doesn’t mean you will always be like that but UNTIL you or whoever can become well or balanced again; telling them to JUST BE POSITIVE, well it ain”t gonna work. Why can’t people understand that? Telling a mentally ill person to be positive is counter-productive. They need to get better first. They need help. It’s a disease. It’s NOT A FRAME OF MIND. Nothing frustrated me more than people thinking I’m not a positive person. It is more complicated than that. The other thing I found out is when your open about your disease there are people out there that will use it against you. WOW…talk about cruelty. Well that’s another blog for another day.
It’s the brain; it is not working right, just like heart or the kidney might not work right. There is no difference but yet we continue to demonize the mentally ill and sympathize for the heart and kidney patients. How does that make any sense?.
I was at a bar the other day. A local bar.
I was sitting there at the bar and a guy came in and he started talking to me. He seemed to be there just for that reason. He showed me poems on his phone and gave me a piece of paper ; almost a resume of sorts of why we should be friends. He was very nice. I listened to him talk for a long while and then the other guy sitting next to me asked me how could you listen to his babbling. I said it is called being kind. Then he or someone near him said, watch out for that guy, he is bi-polar or maybe even schizophrenic. Ok so that is very funny to me. He was warning the bi-polar woman, to beware the Bi-polar man.
Now for the lows or the Mean Reds as Audrey Hepburn called them. The lows can be excruciating. A complete loss of interest in life and activities. The depression and suicidal thoughts are non-ending. Then there are the racing thoughts that take rent in our brains and NEVER LEAVE. Overthinking can be the very thing that can instigate a severe depression episode. The hardest part is we simply feel everything so much stronger and so much deeper than the average person. There are physical side effects as well like sever muscle and joint pain that can happen. I always had a lot of leg muscle pain and for years my parents would say its growing pains. Well I am grown now and its still happening. I was also a athlete so we also blamed athletics but none of my teams-mates had what I had. My legs hurt all the time. I finally learned after years and years with the leg pain that depression can effect muscle pain. WoW! I never knew that. Now if you take meds for bi-polar there are a host of side effects that go hand in hand with taking the medication. Getting used to them can take years and can be a complete living hell. There is confusing thoughts, brain fogginess, weight gain and bloating, lack of exuberance for life. You feel like a zombie. You lose your creativity, one of the very few wonderful things that is a bi-product from being bi-polar. It can be hell on wheels and hell and hell and hell.
Now for the short answer. You See a Cat, I see a Tiger.
Now what I mean by that is you see or feel something; we will see it or feel it on a much deeper level. If will effect us more. We will be affected longer. Death, Broken Relationships, problems, Media events and News will all affect us more, deeper and longer. We are more emotional and someone might call us Drama queens. It makes it harder to exist and thrive because we are so overwhelmed by the feelings and emotion and pain on a day to day basis. There is also the people who like to minimalize your disease. They will say things like, oh we are all bi-polar at some point or Just get over it or Come on, be happy! Some will say, it’s not like you have cancer. My thoughts on that is people will never understand how hard it is to deal with this unless they have it. Cancers is horrible and I know because both my parents had/have cancer but it doesn’t make Mental illness any easier. The difference is when you get Cancer people feel bad for you, you get greeting cards and sympathy and support.
There are not greeting cards for bat-shit crazy. I hate when people want to compare suffering.
To give you a perfect example of You see a cat, I see a Tiger; we can use the OJ Simpson Murders and Trial.
I remember when that happened and I couldn’t take my eyes off the damn TV. I was so affected by it. It was really devastating for me. I remember my siblings saying why are you so sad over this? It didn’t happen to you. Why do you care so much?. I remember thinking I have no idea, its just the way my brain works. I thought to myself, how come your not effected more? I couldn’t understand their aloof manner and they couldn’t understand my extreme obsession on this news event.
I mean I was a OJ fan and It was horrible to see him running from the law in that white bronco. It was horrific to see two people; Ron and Nicole slaughtered and killed like that. The conflicting feelings of still loving OJ but knowing deep down he was guilty bastard was confusing. Then the guilt I felt for hoping on some level that OJ doesn’t go to Jail; kind of like getting off for all the innocent black men that did go to Jail. Kind of like Payback?! I mean we knew OJ did it and we also all knew this was a crime of passion and he probably wouldn’t kill again. The guilt I felt just for thinking that was overwhelming. The poor victims and their families, they deserve a conviction. I remember thinking they were going to be the sacrificial lamb for all the unjust arrests in the black communities for years. We also knew he was gonna get off because he was a loveable star athlete and movie star and that crazy defense “dream team”. Jesus, a team only money could buy. Payback or Tragedy or both. I had all sorts of conflicting feelings and then guilt for feeling them. What the fuck. I didn’t do it but I felt guilty for feeling well really anything. There was no win -win here. Not matter what I wanted to happen either way it was a horrible outcome.
Then the people around me got over this news story and moved on with their life while I was still sitting there saying WTF? What is to become of all of us if OJ turned out to be a narcissistic psychopath. So yeah ….you see (or feel) a cat, I see (or feel) a tiger. Get it. It is EXHAUSTING and not PRODUCTIVE. It can happen with anything. Work problems, family problems, Man problems. It is just harder to exist. Basically.
Speaking of Productivity, I still do not know how I got up and went to work everyday. Well actually I do know; it was because my parents raised us to think that was what you did, there was no other choice. Work ethic was a big deal in our household. The choice to stay in bed was NOT A OPTION. I would wake up and feel like a truck hit me. I know everyone has bad days but this was a normal thing. I know the people I lived with didn’t deal with this. I could tell. They were able to deal with the everyday routines much more effortlessly than I was. Waking up, grooming and getting dressed and getting thru the day was so easy for them. They moved about the house like some sort of domestic ballet. I always felt like I was swimming against the currents. Swimming upstream without a paddle so to speak.
I used to compare it to someone who would have a ball and chain on their ankles. It was always there and you couldn’t get rid of it. I am just talking about one of my afflictions; there were two which made everything even harder but I want to focus on the Bi-polar here.
I never felt good, I never felt at ease and I was always tired. Being in pain, being misunderstood and crying was a daily hardship.
When I finally got diagnosed and got used to the horrible medications and I started to feel “better” I was like oooohhhh this is what everyone else feels like. I get it now. I wake up feeling energized and healthy on most days, not all but most. I still have ups and downs but not as severe and scary as before. It took me 45 years to get to this point. 45 years to understand what it felt like to be “normal”. 45 years of being positive and strong and staying the course that one day I would figure it all out. I had a very strong will to survive.
That’s Bi-Polar for me. Since most of you won’t ask or even acknowledge it in any kind of positive way I thought it important to try to explain. Like I said earlier; there is no greeting card for bat-shit crazy.
Mental illness is still the stuff swept under the rug and not to be spoke about in a direct manner. The elephant in the room if you will. I have to talk about it. It helps me somehow. People are still cruel and stigma still exists but I say fuck you to stigma. Long or short answer; that is the thick of it.