So, a friend and I were yacking yesterday, and we were talking about what being bipolar is like. He truly wanted to know what went on in my head and how it felt to be me. Very few people have ever asked me this, so it felt really good for someone to be so interested that they asked me for my personal experience with it, as opposed to textbook definitions.
Here’s what I told him: “When I’m manic, it’s like a blender with ice, fruit, and juice, on high, with no lid…just spraying around the kitchen.” But really, in this scenario, the juice has an outlet…it’s escaping the blender. I can’t escape my blender…the ingredients (thoughts & emotions) just keep coming back and getting spewed out again and again.
Then I said this about depression: “It’s like there’s a monster with heavy metal chains that grabs my mood, reels it in, and makes me sink so low during this process that I can’t escape.”
After listening to this, he said it helped him understand it more, but he had something to confess (Ought oh…I’ve heard that phrase before). His ex-wife had depression and would spend days in their bed, refusing to even get up to eat dinner or walk around. He said it would tick him off, that he just wanted her to GET UP and try. He said he feels guilty now, that after learning more about depression, he was so hard on her when she was down.
First, I can understand him feeling guilty. As much as I want people to understand bipolar and take that into consideration, I don’t always reciprocate well. Ex-partner has a personality disorder: I thought for a long while it was Narcissistic Personality Disorder since his treatment of me mimicked narcissistic relationships in terms of idealize, devalue, and discard (he repeated this cycle multiple times). A couple of months ago, he got formally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder which actually does make more sense while considering other issues in his life. Anyhoot, I knew he had a personality disorder along with the PTSD from his military tours. But here’s the thing, I would get impatient with him. I’d try to change what I was seeing by getting angry with him and telling him what he should be doing instead. I’d respond to his irrational behavior by yelling at him and holding grudges. (On the flip side, he’d do the same: get mad at me when I was ‘too emotional’…get frustrated when I was bouncing off the walls).
So why did I do this in response to his behavior? Like my counselor has said to me before: “He’s Borderline…what did you expect from him?” Yikes. She’s right. Right as rain. Just like I’m bipolar, what the hell do you expect from me? I’m gonna be up and I’m gonna be down. BUT the behavior that results from mental illness can be frustrating, hurtful, embarrassing, anger provoking, etc. to others in our lives. It’s hard to deal with people like us! It’s hard for others to understand us when we can’t always understand ourselves. I get angry at me. I get frustrated by me.
Back let’s go back to my monster and depression. I do believe my monster is very very strong. However, I can’t lay down and always let him win; it’s time I started fighting back. You know, there’s not many times in my life where I’ve been a fighter against people who were hurting me. When I was being bullied in grade school, my sister always protected me so I never had to fight back. When the psychologist I was seeing at 16 sexually abused me for 2 years, I didn’t fight back out of fear and a misplaced sense of loyalty. When I was bullied my Jr. and Senior years in high school, I just tried to look away and make myself as inconspicuous as possible. When ex was cheating on me, I apologized for my role in it.
I never really fought. But guess what? No more. Let’s all say it together: “NO MORE!” I fight that fucking monster, my biggest adversary, with as much as I can muster. When he’s dragging me down so far I can barely see any light, I grab that chain and pull up with all I have. Link. By link. By link. And then, magically, my feet the floor in the morning. Then Edward comes running to me to let him and Dottie out; so I hug my pooches and let them out to pee in the backyard (and eat poop). Then I have to let them back in and that propels me for a walk to the bathroom where I hop into the shower. Get it? I’m tugging back on that depression monster little by little. And, those little tugs are making me function. Making me ‘do’. Making me feel not so much at the mercy of him showing me only darkness. I have vowed that he will NOT keep me so down ever again that I stand in the middle of my floor for hours, not knowing what to do with all that’s in my mind.
Look, bipolar is a brain issue. My brain is different. I can’t help the roller coaster this brain has set me on; just like someone with a migraine isn’t to blame.
It’s not that I’m going to suddenly ‘cheer’ up and be happy. But yes, I can push myself little step by little step and show that monster Kristi is still here. Me. And that I’m going to take as much control as I possibly can; count my small victories and celebrate them. Just knowing that I’m fighting back makes me feel stronger, which makes me feel ‘better’ in the midst of this depression.
I’ve had enough ‘monsters’ in my life that I haven’t fought against and I’ve decided I’m not ever going to bow down to anyone (or anything) again. I’m going to fight. I’m going to do all I can with all I have to get wins in these battles. And at the same time, I’m going to get a little piece of myself off of that fucking roller coaster. That son-of-a-bitch monster has led me on this ride for too long. It’s time for me to start taking over at least a few of the controls.