Been There, but didn’t buy the T-Shirt

26 Nov

Having Bipolar, being bipolar, means it’s likely you experience moments of blinding rage. I have. There are holes in walls to prove it, holes I barely remember making. Rage sweeps you up, takes you on a ride, feeds itself through your own anger, sustained by the emotions of those around you. Only the thinnest threads hold you to reality, let you see through the blindness to the person standing next to you, before your fists and words.

Rage is one of the scariest things I’ve handled with this disease. You think you know rage? You don’t. It’s all encompassing, turns you into someone else. I’ve been mad, and then I’ve been vengeful and full of rage.

I’m reading my feeds this morning when this headlines pops up:

Brutal assault blamed on drugs
But victim proposes, expecting his child as abuser faces prison

I come to read the article and see that this man, who is bipolar, was put on anti-depressants, and then beat the ever-loving crap out of his girlfriend. Which is so horrible on many levels. And yet, then she proposes, gets pregnant.

I’m sure some people will see battered women’s syndrome. I see a woman trying to cling to the good person she knows is under all that crap, the person who, if on the right drugs, doesn’t fly into violent rages and hurt her. She knows that under the drinking (which was likely to self medicate) and under the wrong drugs there is a very different individual. And she loves THAT man.

Make no mistake-there are likely two men in there. Just as there are two people in me. On the wrong drugs, I can be very scary-ask Mogo. We’ve been there. I’ve been in a place mentally where all the kept me from just unleashing my fists was the smallest knowledge that it would be very wrong. If I had been drinking, well, I shudder to think.

I don’t disagree that this man would have know this was wrong-you don’t sustain a beating for over a hour and not realize at some point that what you’re doing isn’t what you should be doing. But jail time? If he truly has bipolar, if he truly needs mental care, how will jail time prevent this from occurring again, and allow him to be a functioning person and father? If someone put him on the wrong drugs, and diagnosed him incorrectly, likely stemming from the lack of resources our mental health system suffers under, is this totally his fault? If he was on anti-depressants which made him manic, which in turn became rage, is it really is his fault?

And moreover, why the shock that this woman could still love him? She remembers the man she loves, the man who quite possibly is just fine now on anti-psychotics. Just as I remember the girl inside me who isn’t crazy.

It’s not that hard to grasp really.


4 Responses to “Been There, but didn’t buy the T-Shirt”

  1. cerebralmum November 26, 2007 at 8:41 am #

    Reading the article, it’s not very clear on the way in which the misdiagnosis was involved. He had a record of violence against women dating back to 1996. Was he on the wrong drugs during the other incidents? I think you’re making some very strong, and important, points which the justice system seems to have little room for, but with this case, I don’t think we’ll ever know the answers to them.

  2. Grandma Mary Joan November 26, 2007 at 12:26 pm #

    After my manic episodes, I have struggled with shame and guilt about what I have said to hurt the people I love. My violence is confined to my tongue and typing fingers, but that is lethal enough. I do feel responsibility for what happens. That sense of responsibility is important motivation to take my meds everyday and kill my infatuation with mania. On the other hand, blaming myself too much feeds the depression that always follows a manic episode. The sense of being two people is probably the most painful part of being bipolar.

    None of this is meant to disagree with your argument about the mentally ill wrongly ending up in jail. Without knowing all the facts, it is hard to know what to think of this particular case.

  3. thordora November 26, 2007 at 12:42 pm #

    I think he is culpable to a point, based on the information in the article. We always have a choice at some point-he chose to drink.

    But I worry that we don’t treat the illness when we should, and we miss the chance to do good. I’d be interested to hear from him-obviously the victim thinks there’s a person worth saving in there somewhere.

  4. Dragon November 26, 2007 at 10:22 pm #

    I have been that person, the one who only holds back because somewhere I know it is wrong. And I have been the one who chooses not to acknowledge the wrongness. I have whole hours at a time that I don’t remember, times when I’m told I have done terrible things. I’ve left scars on an ex boyfriend who stayed for some reason I could never understand. It never occurred to me that that was the reason he stayed. I can understand the girl staying, even though I wouldn’t, were I in her shoes. But the drinking was a choice, regardless of any mental condition, and that is something that should be addressed.


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