To begin is hard. To get my thoughts out into the world beyond my mind is healing, and yet I don’t always find the time to do this. Sometimes, many times, I find myself small, a tiny fish surrounded by, and swimming within a huge, swirling torrent of Bipolar Disorder Type 2.
Bipolar 2 has been described as ‘Soft Bipolar’ It isn’t. Swirling torrents, and constant noise in the brain are not what I would describe as a soft experience. I may not be running down the street naked, but I have come close to doing so.
24 years of recovery in AA and Al-Anon (and some time spent in NA) has given me the strength so far to not act on every impulse Bipolar throws at me. However, Bipolar is extremely powerful, and, like addiction, it is way more powerful than I am.
Bipolar. Do stupid things faster with more energy.
And I have done some crazy stupid things.
Like driving my car on the footpath.
Nearly killing myself on drugs and alcohol.
Acting out sexually with really stupid people.
Yelling out at people in the middle of the car park exit facing lines of beeping Range Rovers, Nissan Pajero’s and other cashed up army tanks wanting to go home.
“Don’t use this car park, it is stupid!”
Hurling objects through the air in a rage that takes me over, and having people call in the Crisis Team. Then when they finally arrive and ask me how I am, telling them I am fine. Pretending to be ‘normal’ Denying and refusing help when help is offered.
Being a suicide risk.
Presenting myself at Caritas in the middle of the night, but telling them I was okay, when in reality, I was at risk of doing something really, tragically stupid. Devastating for myself and my loved ones.
Telling myself I am stupid, when in reality, I am not stupid at all, I have a condition.
And many other experiences over the years, too many to mention in full.
Fortunately, the myth of ‘Soft Bipolar’ is being debunked by mental health professionals these days.
The reasons for this is because Bipolar Disorder is on a spectrum, with some people experiencing more depression symptoms on one end (blue), while others experience more mania (red) on the other end of the spectrum.
Bipolar 2 Disorder is heavy on the depression side, often getting misdiagnosed for years as Unipolar Depression before correct diagnosis is reached. This happens because people don’t tell the doc when they are feeling high, because ‘hooray! Life is great! I’m not depressed!’
People usually seek help for the nasty, unpleasant symptoms such as suicidal depression. This is what I did for years, because I was in a psychic pain that was indescribable and profound, and I wanted out of that pain. The highs were a relief from the lows.
Bipolar 2 Disorder has a high suicide rate, but I am a woman of tough Scottish blood, and I refuse to be a statistic. I take my meds every day because if I don’t, Bipolar will destroy me.
I was prescribed antidepressants, which are dangerous for people with Bipolar because they send them into orbit, into mania or hypomania.
And what goes up, must come down.
Sleepless highs, then crashes. Not being able to function.
Losing jobs before they are even found. Not being able to concentrate due to the noise inside my brain.
Which really pisses off bosses, coworkers and clients, who have no idea why it is like it is.
I have just lost all my dog walking work, in part due to the sporadic nature of the work, so, not my fault.
However, one woman witnessed me having a meltdown in the street outside her house due to me not being able to concentrate enough to keep track of the keys.
Is this why work has suddenly ceased to exist with her? I’ll never really know, however, I have a history of losing work, not being able to stick to careers or projects, melting down under pressure, and just plain old running away.
Spike Milligan called it advancing in the opposite direction.
Being too depressed to get out of bed or get out of the house. Or so hyper that it pisses people off, or just plain old angry and irritable.
Soft Bipolar has derailed many a career, dream and project for me. I don’t say this to complain. It is just a fact.
If anybody tells you mental illness is made up, fake, attention seeking or deliberate bad behaviour, they are wrong.
I give such people a body-swerve. They may not be fully aware of the facts regarding mental illness, and this is innocent on one hand, misguided on the other, and damaging to my sense of self worth.
I am simply a person doing the best I can with what I’ve got.
And I’ve done well in many areas.
I am a survivor who is flourishing in spite of a mental illness that can really take it out of me.