When Having Bipolar Disorder Means Your Head Is a Balloon


My head always feels full; like a balloon that has been blown up almost to the point of popping.

Except what’s in my head isn’t air. It’s worry, constant worry, over the impending anxiety that hits me as soon as my feet hit the bedroom floor each morning. Anxiety takes over as soon as I open my eyes and turn on the switch. Every day my brain decides which switch to turn on, and there are many. Happy, sad, hurt, anger, excitement, optimism, rage. I don’t get to choose. Every moment of every day I fight with my brain for the right to choose what mood I want to be in. If it were only my choice, if I didn’t have this disorder, I would choose to be content every day. But that’s not how it works. Bipolar disorder leaves me feeling helpless, unable to feel how I want to feel and think how I want to think. Inside my head, thoughts race and swirl and jumble until I am so confused I just don’t want to think anymore.

When my mind finally quiets, it’s not because I have nothing to worry about. It’s because even though I could have been happy yesterday, today I experiencing a darkness that leaves me thoughtless. I don’t have any racing thoughts because I just don’t care. My mind is slow and so is my body, and the want to get out of bed and care for my daughter isn’t there. I hate my appearance, even though I refuse to do anything about it. Part of me really wants to take a shower, but the switch just won’t turn on. Part of me really wants to eat, but the switch remains off. These are the times my head feels like a deflated balloon, a sad excuse for a party favor, that takes twice as much air to blow up again.

My brain turns on the manic switch and my mind is all over the place. I am happy, excited, ambitious about the future, invincible and on top of the world. I can get anything done when this is the switch my brain picks for the day. I am super mom, super woman. There is no need for sleep, because how can I get things done, how I can I make plans, how can I be better if I am asleep? I don’t need my medication, I’m having a good day and it’s because of my own strength, not because of the pills.

So I don’t take them. I don’t take them for a few days, and that’s when my mind unravels. That’s when the balloon is letting out air and flying all over the room. That’s when I’m angry, hateful, aggressive and just plain pissed off. At everyone, at everything, at every person who has been there for me throughout this hell that is having bipolar disorder. They’ve done nothing wrong, and I know that, I really do. But the switch just won’t turn on. I hate them, all of them, for what my brain is telling me they’ve done and haven’t done to help me. Its selfish, this switch. It doesn’t care about the feelings of others, or my feelings either. It cares about not needing medication, rage, hate and stops me from going to my appointments with my therapist and psychiatrist. From rage I return to the darkness, and that’s when I realize I need my medication to function properly. At this point the sadness switch is on, the helpless switch is on and the part of me that makes decisions decides medication is the best option.

So I go back on my medication. My moods are even, the balloon is a decent size. Until they aren’t, and again, the balloon is too full.

The Mighty is asking the following: For someone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to have your mental illness, describe what it’s like to be in your head for a day. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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