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Where I Start and My Bipolar Ends

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It’s easier if you meet us both at the same time. Because I don’t know where I start and the bipolar disorder ends.

If I teach you about the bipolar, you might see just the bipolar and not me. If I teach you about me and try to hide the bipolar disorder, I’m denying a part of myself.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

So this is me, with my bipolar disorder.

I am determined and passionate. If you mention one of my many interests, I could talk with excitement about that topic for hours. If you confess a secret to me, I will keep it safe and be honored you chose to share it with me. I am loyal and will fight for the people I love. I am passionate about so many things, and mostly about my husband and friends whom I love deeply.

I am emotional. When I am happy, I dance on air. When I am sad, it feels like the world is breaking. When I am angry, I want to destroy everything in sight and scream. When something triggers an emotion, the emotion doesn’t stop. Sometimes I don’t even remember the trigger, I just become so overwhelmed by a single emotion.

I am sensitive and intuitive. I am deeply empathic and can feel other’s pain. When someone cries, I find myself in tears as well.

I am spontaneous and I love trying new things. I am always ready for a new experience or a road trip. Count me in, I’m ready.

I experience life intensely. Dissonant sounds pierce my ears. A beautiful sunset bathes me with a sense of peace. A great concert sends me to the heavens, while bad news knocks me off my feet. A kiss changes my world, while an insult shatters it.

My moods cycle with the seasons and the weather. In the dark days of winter, I sink into a mild depression; sad and uninterested in regular things. During the summer, I soak in the sunshine and can flip to mania at a moment’s notice. My moods often change with my monthly cycle as well. During that time of the month, I am typically manic for a few days and then depressed for a few. I deeply feel the light and seasons effect on my mind.

When I am depressed, I cry for days. Everything seems hopeless. The world has no color — everything is black and grey. There seems to be no escape. During times of depression, it’s hard to remember whether sunlight and color could ever exist again. Everything requires an inordinate amount of work. I endlessly strategize how I’m going to get my feet out of the bed, then into the shower, then out the door to work. Small tasks take 10 times more energy and time. I count out each small part of every task as I push myself through them. Everything literally looks dark — like I am wearing sunglasses that I can’t take off. I sleep all the time. I eat too much. I feel numb. I’m forcing myself to go through life even though I can’t enjoy any of it. And I hope things will get better.

When I am hypomanic, I feel alive, but I’m flirting with disaster. I have this restless energy. I talk really fast and have a million ideas all at once. I feel euphoria with all of this energy and creative excitement. At the same time, I’m nervous that it was turn into full-blown mania or crash into a deep depression, so I never trust it. Anxiety builds. I start projects, but don’t finish them. I keep trying to figure out what is happening.

When I am manic, I feel completely out of control. I say yes to every impulse. I am overwhelmed with feelings and ideas. The feelings flood my brain and I can’t figure out how to filter my thoughts. I grab ideas and I follow them. Every idea feels like a brilliant revelation. My common sense is drowning in the deluge of enthusiasm. I can see every color of the rainbow at the same time. It is so intensely exciting, but frightening at the same time. Part of me never trusts it. I become overwhelmed with anxiety because I feel like I am out of control. Swimming in a rainbow of ideas and feelings, I try to find logic and reason with no luck. I say yes to people who hurt me. I take risks that cause me to crash into depression, leaving me alone with my tears as I agonize over how “stupid” I felt.

I am also an artist. I see art as something fluid that courses through different mediums. Sometimes I am a painter, then I lose myself in poetry, then it’s collage, then photography, music, writing — it’s all the same. I create art with intensity. As my mood shifts to the manic side, my creative thoughts overflow. I rush to express them all before I lose them. During depression, I try to hold onto my creativity. It’s part of me. It’s important to retain my creative voice, even when depression is in control.

I am so many things. I change by the week, and the hour. I flow between mood states and bursts of creative energy. At the same time, I see that I’m still me, no matter what stage of bipolar I’m in.

This is me and my bipolar disorder.

Thinkstock photo via DenKuvaiev

Originally published: June 22, 2017
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