The War in My Mind Between Reality and Perception


I have a good life which I share with four kids, three cats and an amazing wife. I have a successful career and enough money to care for my family. I’m middle aged but am physically healthy. Yes, I have a good life.

The logical me genuinely believes this and repeats that message every few minutes of every day to quiet the broken me and its desire to sabotage my happiness. In clinical terms, I have co-morbid rapid cycling bipolar disorder type II and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

To the “broken” me, my life is very different.

My family leaves clutter around the house. They should know my anxiety skyrockets in the face of clutter; their not decluttering means they don’t care about my struggles. I come home every day to clutter in the house and a family that actually wants to have conversations with me. I can’t do conversations when there are 500 thoughts racing through my mind. Focusing is near-impossible, and they keep making it harder for me by their incessant talking. They want to do things like leave the house and go places. If I go places, I worry if there are too many people there, will they touch me? Will I be able to not use the bathroom? Everyone knows I hate public bathrooms. Will I have to drive? What time do we need to be there? I can’t be late. I just.can’t.be.late.ever. Then there’s those annoying cats. Cats are supposed to be clean, but there’s cat hair everywhere! I just want to move into the shed in the backyard by myself because my peaceful house is a house of horrors.

Work, though, is probably my least favorite part of every day. I commute to New York City by bus. The seats are disgusting, and the people smell. I panic that someone may sit next to me so I take up as much space as I can. Then if they do, I get agitated if they so much as breathe in my direction or touch me. I’ve been known to yell at people on the bus if they get too close. One time, it resulted in a full blown fight in the bus terminal. Luckily, my office is my safe place. Between my antibacterial wipes and a door that closes, nothing can harm me. Unless someone comes in to talk to me — then I get agitated and visibly disturbed.

My health? I’m overweight and I wear baggy clothes and blazers all the time to cover up my appearance. Also, I haven’t been to the d*ntist in 30 years because my last experience threw me into a phobia.

All this stress in my life, it’s no wonder why my mood frequently bottoms out and I become suicidal for days or even weeks on end. I’ve made passive attempts because I couldn’t manage the emotions any more. Luckily, I had two extended hospital stays to help me pull out of that. When the depression passes and I can’t remember ever feeling so badly that I’d ever harm myself, I feel amazing and can conquer the world! Except, of course at night when I am following my predefined path to close the house up for the night and check the stove repeatedly until I can finally pull myself away.

I have a good life, which I share with four kids, three cats and an amazing wife.

…Sorry, it’s been a few minutes since the logical me reminded the broken me just how good I have it.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Vitaliy_Holovin


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Bipolar Disorder

traditional chocolate easter bunny surrounded by easter eggs with string tied into a bow around neck

Explaining the Mania of Bipolar Disorder With Chocolate Easter Bunnies

I developed the metaphor of the “Chocolate Easter Bunny of Happiness” to explain my experiences with bipolar disorder. In this scenario, each person periodically receives the same allotment of chocolate. With mania that allotment can become divided into 50 chocolate Easter Bunnies. Add a dash of random creativity and maybe 100 are possible, though so [...]
lovers couple sweet in the universe watercolor painting hand drawn

To the Husbands Who Stand by Their Wives With Mental Illness

You think you’re flying under the radar and no one notices, but I do… At least, now I do. It’s not been an easy road for you, has it? Your efforts may go unnoticed by your wife. She may be too wrapped up inside her own mind to see you actually are trying to not [...]
roller coaster

Why My Life Often Feels Like I'm Riding the 'Bipolar Express'

It took me a long time to figure out that the extremes to which my sadness plunged were not “normal” amounts of sadness, nor did my spurts of dramatic happiness exist below the volume of 11. My entire emotional life existed on a rickety wooden roller coaster that only stopped long enough to let a [...]
Man and woman with documents in an office, smiling, close up

I'm Not 'Lazy' Because I Work Part-Time

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. I often get asked the question, “Your kids are all at school now, why don’t you go back to work full-time?” and it always leaves me floundering a bit. [...]