Questions about Bipolar can drive you batty.

18 Jan

Sara asks how I deal with the innumerable pain in the ass questions that surround bipolar.

If you aren’t crazy, let me introduce you to the life of a bipolar.

We never just wake up on the wrong side of the bed. If we’re cranky, there must be a reason. The drugs must not be working. We must have forgotten them, or stopped taking them. We must have been drinking the night before.

We’re never happy. If we’re bouncing around the house, singing, we’re asked if we remembered to take our drugs. If we’re whistling at work, we’re asking what the hell we’re so happy about, asked if we stopped taking our meds. We’re asked to stop being so bloody annoying, and gee, are you sure the drugs are working?

It’s hard enough handling the mood swings. Having the added benefit of doubt surrounding you really puts the icing on a shitty cake.

What some people don’t seem to realize is that even on drugs, one will still experience the full “bipolar express” that they did before. Only it will be something you can deal with. Sadness will be just that-sadness, and it won’t descend into suicidal thoughts. I will still get a little manic, just not to the point of draining my bank account or talking all day long.

I am still entitled to my emotions. I am still entitled to a full range of life as a human being. Just like all of you.

Truth be told Sara, I don’t handle it well at all. I get pissy, and annoyed. BUT, on the other hand, I have gone off my meds before, and it’s pretty much the thing that precipitated my hospitalization. So I’m not exactly trustworthy all the time anyway. But I get nervous when my husband gives me the eye and wonders if I need my dose upped. I start to wonder if there is something wrong with me, with the me that’s inherent in this body, and I start wondering if he’s trying to cover it by encouraging me to ask about having the levels adjusted. Then I get sad, because honestly, I don’t know who “I” am at this point.

That’s what bothers me the most. The feeling that everyone else knows who I am more than me. I’m a different person in my head constantly, a nattering mess in my brain. But they have the benefit of the relative silence of my external self, and I don’t.

Most of the time though, I don’t get many questions. You may have noticed that I’m a tad bit vocal about my illness, and this does transfer into my real life. I will tell even if you haven’t asked. I am not ashamed of my illness, and I am very open with the people around me, even if it makes them uncomfortable. They wouldn’t act weird if I had cancer, and I wouldn’t hide that either.

I found the best defense is offence. I’ll let Mogo know, repeatedly, that I will never be 100% normal. EVER. (Not that I ever was) I will still get moody, especially around my period. (HOOOO dog does that SUCK now that I can tell the difference!) If I’m manic, I’ll try and warn him-it’s usually been helped along by too little sleep, too little exercise and too much coffee.

There’s a healthy dose of “in one ear and out the other” as well. I can’t get mad at his concern, not truly. This is a man that stuck by someone who has been continuously suicidal, full of rage and meanness for the last 3 years, someone who was depressive and mood swingy even before descending into the maelstrom. He has weathered this with me, and is entitled to his concerns. Because sometimes it’s scary, wondering if it’s just a glitch, or if the meds have stopped working.

That thought gives me nightmares. The thought of going back to how it was, to the volatile madness that was my life and myself. We wouldn’t make it through that again, and I think we both know it. His vigilance is security, really.

Keeping it in the context of “they love me, they care, and they want to help” is likely the only way to preserve your sanity. Because they do. The people who surround us truly love us, or they would never, in a million years, have stuck with us for so long.

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12 Responses to “Questions about Bipolar can drive you batty.”

  1. Luna Story January 18, 2008 at 10:42 pm #

    Really enjoyed reading this! It’s another approach to living with the illness.

    I have taken a much different approach to living with the illness. I have a successful job, and am in the closet. I do everything I can to blend in with other people. If a coworker notices something weird about me, I comment on something weird about them.

    My family and closest friends obviously know about my illness. Their concern both touches me and annoys me. I don’t particularly like the secrecy, but I don’t want every last move I make to be scrutinized and interpreted as a possible sign of insanity.

  2. Freya January 19, 2008 at 3:47 am #

    I just finished writing nearly the same things earlier today. Wow. Well, okay, didn’t finish, ’cause I had to get back to work and then head out with a friend, but it’s almost finished and will be soon. 🙂

    Dead on. We all experience this differently but what you had to say reminds me how very similar this bipolar world is. And how difficult it is to just BE.

  3. bipolarlawyercook January 19, 2008 at 9:07 am #

    Nicely said. I’ve found that the self-doubt eases after a time. Makes the vigilance of others easier to bear.

  4. cat January 19, 2008 at 3:03 pm #

    It’s so true they do love us. Because I wouldn’t stay with me.

  5. Emily January 19, 2008 at 5:50 pm #

    I’m very guilty of those same questions, and it really does drive my husband nuts. The vigilance for me is very much a survival tactic, because every time my husband cycles out of control he lies about going to his therapy and makes a show of going to work and being functional. I never find out until it’s too late, and the signs that ARE present when he goes out of control are the same ones I’m overly concerned with now.

    I wish I knew a better way to be there for him without being suffocating and irritating, but until I figure one out, this is how I make it through one day at a time.

  6. Emily January 20, 2008 at 10:45 am #

    Different Emily here from Mrs. Chicken. This was fascinating. I think you may err in thinking others know who they are more than you do, however, because you do reveal here a startling amount of self-awareness that seems to be missing in a lot of other people.

  7. Sara January 20, 2008 at 11:04 am #

    Thank you so much, I’m glad I’m not the only one. I’ve stopped taking the meds before because they are at times useless (or they felt that way) so I do understand my parents mean well. It’s just that I hate being constantly ridden, and feeling like I can’t have normal emotions without their being a drastic reason. Recently I’ve done a huge med overhall, added two, and understandably I’ve been a little bit tipsy on moods until things start “working” and every day my mom calls at least 10 times asking me if I’ve taken my meds, how am I feeling, what am I doing, ugh make it stop make it stop. Thank you for being so kind, and for such a great answer. I’m like you, in that I talk about it all the time “hi my name is sara, I’m bipolar” is kinda my introduction. lol

  8. Hannah January 21, 2008 at 11:44 am #

    This was fascinating. I would never have asked (because it seems so intrusive, since I’m lucky enough not to be bipolar) but I have often wondered if you are ever allowed to experience an intense emotion without your loved ones surreptitiously checking the medicine bottle.

    Bravely written. Thanks for the different perspective.

  9. zuzuernie January 21, 2008 at 6:23 pm #

    An excellent post that says just what many of us think. I just learned that I have bipolar disorder (someone recently corrected me after I said I was bipolar and said, “You are not bipolar. You HAVE bipolar disorder.” I liked that approach.). I, too, have been vocal and public about it. I am a stay at home mom, so I don’t have a job to worry about. I don’t seem to experience the mania as much as the depression, but the mania seems to bring on more skepticism about whether or not I’ve taken my medication. And, sometimes, a great day is just that. A great day. I guess we have to be responsible for educating those around us.

  10. Megan June 26, 2008 at 6:20 pm #

    my friend just said that she is bipolar when she is tipsy. i find that hard to believe b.c people can get mood swings and all that when they are tipsy.

  11. Megan June 26, 2008 at 6:23 pm #

    is it possible to be bipolar when tipsy? she said she is only bipolar when she is tipsy and she has only been tipsy once.

  12. candi miller September 6, 2008 at 1:45 pm #


    best place for wuestions about it

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