So, if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?
Well…wait. I guess you can laugh at comedians. Funny movies. The People of Wal-Mart website. OK…so when I think about it, there are actually a lot of people you can laugh at, but anyhoot, let’s stick with us.
The other day, I was yacking with ma (go figure) and I told her I had a GREAT run that day…so good, that I was dancing along a bit while running. The following conversation then took place:
“You were…ummmm…dancing? While running?”
“How were you ‘dancing?'”
“Well, for example, when YMCA was playing I did the arm stuff.”
“Well…OK! (BIG pause) So…ummmm…did anyone see you? Like…you know…people?”
“Ma! I have fucking bipolar! I can get away with it!”
We started laughing so hard and she agreed with me! I realized then with all the crap that goes with having this mental illness, sometimes you have to just laugh about it. It’s survival.
Sis and I love to eat lunch out together, and here’s a common conversation:
“OH NO (said in a very dramatic voice)! T, I know it’s my turn to pay, but dammit…I forgot my card and don’t have any cash on me!”
“Again? You forgot it again?'”
“Uh, yeah. You know, T, I do have bipolar.”
“Kristi, I’m well aware of that. However, I’m a LPN who has worked on the psychiatric floor of a large hospital and I don’t remember ever hearing about how forgetting your debit card is a symptom of ‘bipolar’.'”
“Oh. Well. It’s like a ‘new’ symptom. You know. A rarer one. That I happen to have.”
See what I mean?
So, confession time: I’m in love with Simon Cowell. Let me say it again because it just sounds so damn yummy: I’m in love with Simon Cowell. As such, I’m always watching X-Factor and American Idol videos on YouTube. There is nothing more I want than to be belting out a song on that HUGE stage on X-Factor and have the audience give me a standing ovation.
“Son (O), I wanna try out for X-Factor.”
“Uh, duh. Because I want to be a star. You know, I gave up that dream when you were born, but maybe now it’s time.”
“Ma. You have no talent. You can’t sing. You can’t dance. At all. And from what dad says, you couldn’t when I was born either.”
“So O, what are you trying to say? You know, I’ve been feeling pretty depressed lately. ‘Cause of my bipolar and all.”
“OH. Well. SSSUUURRREEE…you’d be great on it!”
“Dammit, O, the yard needs mowed.”
“Wanna mow for me?”
“Ma, I’m working on some stuff and I thought you loved yard work.”
“Son…I’m feeling depressed and don’t think mowing is a good idea for me right now (isn’t that the biggest load of bullshit you ever heard?)”
“OH. I’ll go do it then.”
🙂 MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
Please don’t give me a lecture on using bipolar this way. Look grasshoppers, sometimes you use what you have and this is my way! If I was beautiful, I’d use my wiley ways to do the same. Get it?
Now, when I’m manic, I can’t do enough artsy fartsy stuff. And I get in moods in terms of what I want to make. I’ve gone through Zentangling, acrylic pour painting, crocheting, sewing, beading, water coloring, book folding and decoupaging. And when I do it, I do it! For a while, there was literally NOTHING I wouldn’t decoupage.
Some things turned out really well and I loved them (until I came down, that is). And others sucked ass. Big time. When I went through my crocheting stage, EVERYTHING in my house that was the size of a breadbox or smaller was covered in some sort of crocheted “wrapping”. I have a picture of me with a crocheted ‘purse’ and it’s horrendous. Too bad I can’t find it to show you. But you know me…my bipolar makes it hard to get my old pics out. Just sayin’.
I have so many beaded bracelets that I’ll never be able to wear them all (a slight exaggeration) and my son says the number of quilts we have could be lined up to go around our entire neighborhood block. My paintings cover my walls and when I get out my brushes, NOTHING is safe. And PLEASE don’t say I should open my own Etsy. Been there…done that. My profit? Zip. Zero. Nada. ‘Nuff said.
Now we all know how creativity is linked closely with bipolar: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath, , and Vincent Van Gogh just to name a few. Not that I’m comparing myself to these people…just sayin’. But my mania really does let me explore my creative side and I let go. I’m not concerned with the process or the result or being afraid something isn’t going to turn out. I just do it and even if the end product is ass ugly, it was fun!
Another great thing is that when I’m manic, my confidence and charm explode! I was up for a full-time tenure track position at my college in 2000 and was passed over as a candidate the first time around. When the search committee couldn’t agree on anyone, I was considered the second time interviews were set up! I was teaching as an adjunct already and was doing the work they wanted, so this was something I really really really really desired! So, I was in the President’s Office for my final interview with about 7 other muckety mucks and knew this was my only chance to nail it:
“Kristi, tell us what your biggest weakness is. Your biggest negative.”
“I don’t have any. Next question?” (Remember, I said this in a very charming way.)
My colleague tells me that’s what set me apart from the others. My confidence!
When my son was a little guy, I was never too embarrassed to really play with him: get dirty, be on the playground equipment, take him cool places, try fun things with him. Who gave a fuck what the other moms were thinking? We had a ball!
When I set what others might think of as unrealistic goals, I meet ’em. Like registering for a marathon after not being able to run an 8th of a mile. I had 6 months and I did it! My mania and energy got me there!
In the classroom, my mania can sometimes be a bit hard to reign in, but it’s really fun for my students! We learn a lot (I can give a hell of a lecture in an hour), but we also laugh and that makes it a comfortable environment that all my students respond too. There’s nothing I like better (except maybe…you know…ahem…sex) than hearing my students say “I love this class!” while walking out the door. Makes me smile every time.
I’m not scared to speak in public at all. I’ve been graduation speaker 3x and LOVE giving my speeches in front of the 1000 people there. When I’m manic, I have the LOOK AT ME syndrome going on…I want to be the center of attention!
I can get excited over the littlest things. Sometimes I have a feeling people think I’m ‘faking’ a reaction to something, but I’m not! I can actually get REALLY excited over seeing a deer on a hike or going to a stage musical or finding a turtle on a path. Things like that make my day! And Christmas? I LOVE to give and open presents and everything I receive excites the crap out of me!
Now, I don’t want to brag on this one, but let’s get it out there: people with bipolar tend to have higher IQs, particularly in verbal areas. I love to learn. LOVE IT! I read anything and everything I can get my hands on, and theorizing is actually fun to me. That’s why I think I love teaching psychology and sociology so much…you can never ever learn it all! (I also think that’s a big reason I chose to teach: I can use my ‘verbal’ abilities to yap all fucking day).
And of course there’s also the fact that we’re sensitive, empathic, and in tune with other people’s feelings. This makes us good listeners…good people to talk too since we can relate to others so much. We’re the huggers. The comforters. The ones who people will seek out because they know we truly care about what they’re saying. I’ve literally struck up conversations with people in Wal-Mart (much to my ma’s and O’s chagrin) and after 5 minutes, I’m hugging them while they spill their life story out in the make-up aisle.
You know having bipolar sucks, and whatever mental illness or mental health issue you are battling sucks too. But I’ll tell you what: you’re going to have days that go on forever and you’ll wonder what the fuck you’re doing here; and you’ll have good days that make you understand what you were put on this earth for. And trust me, grasshoppers: if we can’t laugh about it…maybe until we cry about it… then we are going to let these mental illness bastards win.