Most people don’t randomly wake up at 2am on a day off and stay up. I am not most people.
I have been diagnosed by professionals as having bipolar I. It went unrecognized and unmedicated for years. Some professionals have even questioned the diagnosis–I did this myself after I was hospitalized, thinking that I had a bought of depression with psychotic features. But a history of bad reactions to certain antidepressants and a bit of family history as well leads me to believe that the diagnosis is accurate.
Plus, I am up at 2am and plan on staying up all day just to be productive. My writing patterns, like Hugo Wolf’s songwriting, would also indicate a bipolar diagnosis. It is feast or famine, baby. I am either huddled in a corner penning my memoir or I am allergic to anything of a literary nature. There is no between.
And also there are those things that I have done that are completely out of character for me. Shopping excessively? Check. We won’t get into the nitty gritty details of my other escapades but trust me, they seem like another life entirely and I’ve already written about some of them. So I won’t bore you with the details.
I tend to focus my writing on my primary disorder, which is OCD. But bipolar is the one that has tried to take me out. It has made me convinced of things that are not real. It has made me have visual and aural hallucinations. It has kept me up for days. It has convinced me that life is not worth living, which is a bald-faced lie.
To most people, I don’t seem outwardly bipolar. It is because the OCD causes me to be inwardly bipolar. Delusions? I’ve kept them to myself for the most part. Hallucinations? You didn’t hear it from me. The pattern of elation and depression? It’s gotten worse since I first started experiencing it in college. And more difficult to hide.
And you may have seen romanticized versions of bipolar folks in movies but nothing compares to having it, in person, in your face, all of the time. I think I’m doing well and suddenly a bought of severe depression slaps me down. Days and days of insomnia still plague me even with medication. The line between fantasy and delusion can even be blurred when in these states. Paranoia consumes me.
I remember what life was like, unmedicated, and I was literally living in my own little world for much of the time. Reality seemed the only true figment of the imagination. I was in my own head far too much. And I couldn’t escape my demons to save my life.
And I tell myself all of that is over. But I know that my diseases have no cure.
I also think it is somehow less acceptable to society to be bipolar than it is to have an anxiety disorder. It is something I worry about disclosing because of its negative connotations. Watch out for her, she’s crazy. She’s bipolar or something.
You’ve heard it. You may have even said it. Nothing I can say will adequately express what it is like to have to live with it.
But hell, I can see it as a negative thing. Or I can see it as having more quality time with my cat. Which is what life should be all about.