When I Try to Find the Right Words to Describe My Bipolar Disorder


Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

I wish I could write eloquent poetry of what being manic and bipolar is like. I wish I could find the right words to describe what the rush of adrenaline was like, but I can’t. I just can’t do it, but not being able to find words is a perfect way to describe how my bipolar disorder II affects my life.

I have days where I am on top of the world, wanting to get everything and anything done. I want to clean. I want to work. I want to be in love and I crave joy. I am a dreamer on those days. To be honest, I prefer to be “manic” Alex. I like her sometimes. I like how she can get things done and how “productive” she can be. I like how her ideas flow out of her like lava. I feel like I could fall in love with myself during those moments. I am invincible. I can be awake for days without stressing about sleep because I think I don’t need it. I can write for hours and I can read a book in a day.

It sounds like a depressed person’s dream, right? Right. I want to mention the downfalls of a manic episode. I can’t stop shaking. It’s like I am vibrating. I try to stop but I can’t. I don’t eat because I think I am better than food. I don’t need food to survive; again, that comes from my eating disorder too. My words don’t come out the way I want them to and often they don’t come out at all. It’s like I have a cannon of words, thoughts, ideas and memories firing out at me. It’s all going so fast I can’t mentally or verbally keep up. I am irritable. I feel like it manifests itself in a part of my body, like I can feel it throbbing. I snap at the people I love and I am not loving and I am not kind. My anxiety is overpowering. I pace. I pick at my skin. I pull my hair out. I can’t sit still. When I try and read, my words all mesh together so I have to read a sentence over and over again until it becomes English. It disrupts my work when I have to take 20 minutes to answer an email that should have taken me 20 seconds. Mania rears its ugly head all at once and it’s fierce. It’s beautiful colors and a harmonious orchestra of nirvana. It’s my darkest demons dressed as angels.

Then the darkness comes. It flies in and knocks me on my feet. I feel dead. My body aches and my heart is heavy. The beautiful colors have turned to gray and the beautiful orchestra has turned to a somber piano. The thoughts are still fast but my body is so tired I can’t keep up. The thoughts slowly turn to silence and glass. I don’t know who I am anymore. I am in tears before my feet hit the floor because I know I have to face another day.

“Do it. Do it now.”

I am impulsive. It’s my voice but it’s not me. I am a failure. I am timid and ashamed. I am broken and I’m not sure how I will go on. The depths of the darkness go on for weeks, months and years. I am my own abuser. I harm myself because I want, I need out of my skin. I don’t eat. I don’t deserve it. Why am I alive? Leave me alone. Get out. Leave me alone. Let me be. I am scared and I crave love.

I do my best: put on my smile, curl my eyelashes and wipe the tears and redo my makeup for the 10th time before I leave. During these moments, I need to be perfect. I am even willing to die trying. I am tired. God, am I tired. The world is dark. I feel locked within myself, haunted by memories and flashbacks of my past life. My demons are chasing me and I don’t have the energy to run. I can’t find the energy. I can’t find Alex.

Between the mania and the depression, I am there. I am the sweet but bitter coffee on a Sunday morning. I am giggles at cartoons on a Saturday night. I am the gentleness after a wicked storm. I am also the deep and heavy wind before a hurricane. I am messy and I am imperfect. I am bright colors and a somber piano. I am finding joy between the madness.

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

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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

Getty Images photo via Rasica


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


Related to Bipolar Disorder

the contributor

Looking Bipolar in the Face

One summer, I turned 18, cut all my hair off and went to college. I bought new sheets. I bought a little cactus. I collaged my side of the room. And then, as if some strange animal kicked my door down, I had my first serious manic episode. It was a bad one. I’m talking [...]
group of female friends at home laughing together having fun

3 Reasons I'm Actually Grateful for My Bipolar Disorder

I can be high, and I can be low. I can be flaky and sometimes show up. I can be Ms. Chatty in a crowd or I can be Ms. Bitch. I can be nice in one moment and the next snap on you, making you wonder what went wrong. I used to think all [...]
illustration of a woman crying

When Mental Illness Makes the Emotions of Grief Confusing

Grieving the loss of a loved one is difficult for everyone, whether you struggle with mental illness or not. This Christmas Eve, I lost my grandfather. He was a fighter, so his death came as a bit of a shock. It was particularly difficult because since I was a child, every Christmas Eve was spent [...]
close up of woman with long hair and focus on lower half of face

A Letter From Your New Bipolar Love

Dearest Her, You and I have been dating for three and a half months now. Those who know the intricacies of queer female romance would tell you that’s more like six or nine months.  Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that you have expressed having no idea what you are dealing with regarding my newly [...]