I have until now been very hesitant to write about my bi polar, happily noticing that more and more people are reading my blog ( thank you !) I was unsure if it was a good plan to disclose something so very personal, something that has led me through the greatest personal discovery journey I have been on, along the journey there have been many stops, some break downs needing emergency work, some happy stations some stations have been in the darkest towns , empty and lonely, ( picture tumbleweed and creaking swinging doors ) and the journey goes on, continuing, showing me new ways to travel new ways to choose the path to take .
For many years there has been “something” always there, always lurking, whether it was being the class clown in school to being way over sensitive as I grew older, from the times when I sat , so many years ago in the corner of a room rocking back and forth having an animated conversation with my grandmother whom had passed away A long time before, to the time when I tried, desperately to dig up the graves in a cemetery belonging to children who had died approx 100 years ago as I was convinced they could not breath. All of these “episodes” went untreated, they were viewed with horror, with silence, with dread of what the neighbours would think. Until at last, after a severe breakdown being diagnosed with BiPolar.
Usually I’m not a great lover of labels, but having the label of BP has given me a lifeline, I no longer feel alone, I no longer worry that I am a crazy, unpredictable person, someone to steer clear of, I accept who I am and acknowledge that even though hundreds of thousands of people are on the same team as me, battling the same mental health issue as me, there is sadly a stigma attached, a stigma which will never go away, a stigma which will stop people living the fullest, happiest life they could be.
Being a person with BP ( not a BP person!) to me is like having a little extra part tucked away in my brain, if you are so inclined give it a name, let it take on a shape, usually it sits, happily. Quietly, minding its own business, not really disturbing you, but it’s always there, it has an effect on the way you think as a person, things that people may innocently say become mountains in your mind, you replay every word, your sensitivity levels tend to be much higher then other people, and in general you feel more, so, for example you are walking down the street and see a parent yelling at a child, most people will tut, they make shake their head, have some empathy for the child but you, with your Bi Polar brain will become obsessed , you will see every detail of fear on that child’s face, you will go home and your mind will become full of possible scenarios, will the child be ok? Is he being abused ? What is happening to him now? And as these thoughts overtake, the little blob , sitting comfortably at the back of your mind grows, and it keeps growing…. eventually leading to an episode.
So we need to be extra careful, we, need to take care not to listen to horrific news, see disturbing videos, read highly emotive books etc.
On the other hand, this extra sensitivity gives us the ability to be more empathetic , more understanding, more caring and loving.
Bi Polar episodes are different for every person. They can happen weekly, monthly, a couple of times a year or not happen for many years, they also all differ in severity, for example over the course of the approx 16 years that I have had my diagnoses there have been a few hospital admissions, some for a few days and the longest over 6 months, but some only an hour or two.
I tend to experience my Bi Polar with highs, I will go through a highly stressful time, and I will know ( and it takes years to come to the point of knowing ) when an episode is coming, the free-falling, all consuming, erratic thoughts, the inability to concentrate, the fantasy that becomes my reality of being the queen, a secret agent etc etc are all warning signs. Sometimes I can stop the episode before it consumes me, I go to a safe place , I sleep , I take extra medication, but sometimes there is no stopping it, and I am in my ” happy place” in no time at all.
For the people around me it is very difficult, though somewhere, deep deep down I know that something is wrong it is them who have to deal with the consequences. When I steal the car keys from my husband and try to climb out the bedroom window to drive down the motorway, to when I disguised myself convinced I was an Mossad agent and those around me were my soldiers. I know now who my safe people are, those who know from the tone of my messages or voice that I am on the verge of or in the midst of an episode, those 3/4 people are always there and they know what to do.
Bi Polar is NOT a choice, there is no point telling us to stop, to pull ourselves together. We can control it with medication, but still, at times the medication will stop being affective or will not be a strong enough dosage and a manic or depressive episode will occur.
Please know, we do not as some may think commit terror attacks or drive planes in to a mountainside because we have a mental illness, and when such an event happens we are saddened when the media will immediately fall back on the ” mental health issues of the perpetrator ”
We are you, we are me, we are your family and friends.
If someone you know has a mental health issue, do not be ashamed, make sure they are on the correct medication, that they know they are loved and that you are there … no matter what.
My last point is the importance of therapy. Personally I feel everyone should have a therapist, but for the person with BP it is even more important as we have all the anxieties, stress and unknowns that come with it.
My jouney is ongoing, I hope to be able to somehow in my own way stop along the way and open the eyes of those who are blind to the reality of mental health issues and how it affects all of us in one way or another.
Lots of love