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What My Mixed Bipolar Episodes Are Like

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Mixed episodes can occur when someone struggling with bipolar disorder is both manic and depressed simultaneously.

Words are easy to use when defining what a mixed episode is, but words are hard to find when describing what a mixed episode feels like.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

I don’t stay up until 4 a.m. writing the night away, nor do I feel like I have boundless energy that needs to be let loose on the world. I don’t feel like a messenger from God, and I certainly don’t feel like a gift to the universe or its people.

But I do feel irritable, so irritable I want to rip my own skin apart until I can crawl out of it, and myself. It’s as though all of my energy is like little bouncy balls that have been put inside of jar with the lid screwed on so tightly that no matter how much the balls bounce and move back and forth, they can’t get out. The jar becomes pressurized until it bursts open and all of the balls explode into the world.

The balls of energy exploding into the world tend to make a mess of my world. I begin to say horrifically mean things to the people I love and who love me most. I undercut my relationship with my significant other by calling into question his integrity as a human. My illness whispers dark and dirty things to me about my significant other. My illness tells me he can’t be trusted, that he doesn’t actually give a damn about me and that he’s just biding his time until the moment he can safely walk out on me. My illness tells me that my significant other isn’t actually attracted to me and that he is disgusted by me, among many other things.

And I believe it.

I believe it so much that I drag myself into the depths of hell by screaming out the most awful things I can to push my significant other away. I tell him I hate him, that I can’t stand to be with him and so much more.

All the while, there’s me somewhere inside, begging to be let go from the chains of my malicious, manic energy; begging to be let go from the chains of my deceitful depression. But I can’t escape. I’m a prisoner in my own mind.

While I spew enraged, manic words at my significant other, or sometimes other family members, I simultaneously feel a deep sadness for what I am saying and doing, I feel immense guilt that makes me want to crawl into a hole and never come out. But I can’t break the chains. Instead I fall into a deep puddle of muddy water that I must tread at the risk of drowning.

Coming out of a mixed episode is, well, a mixed bag. I feel less saddened and less maniacal; I feel grounded. But I often feel intense remorse for the ugly words or actions I’ve said and done during the episode. I apologize more times than I can count, and can’t understand why people I’ve hurt can’t pick up and move on with me. I fail to understand that they need time to heal from the hurt I caused, and that just because my black cloud of a mixed episode has moved on just as suddenly as it came on, doesn’t mean that the people I hurt can so suddenly forgive.

Thinkstock photo via Transfuschian

Originally published: May 8, 2018
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