Its no secret that I have been diagnosed as Bipolar II. (One can clearly tell by just reading my blogs!) In an attempt to try and understand my illness from someone else who also has bipolar, I began to read a book called The Unquiet Mind, by Kay Redfield Jamison. This woman is amazing. She not only has a Ph.D. in Psychology and Psychopharmacology, but she based her specialties around mood disorders. On it’s face, you are probably scratching your head thinking,
It is interesting because all the while she is studying these issues, she herself has bipolar (or manic-depressive as they used to call it back in the day) but does not acknowledge it in herself. She remained in denial for quite sometime, even though she studied all the signs and symptoms. Ms. Jamison finally embraces that she, herself has bipolar and began taking her medications. She then begins to stabilize and manage the illness well.
This book has been deeply moving to me because I had felt all the same things that she had described. It was so powerful to be able to read something that could so accurately describe the same things I had been feeling and had never before been able to relate to anyone else before, and that I also had a hard time describing to others.
The other day, when someone said to me “You know, you are just so tiring to keep up with. Your up, your down, your fast, your slow, your crying, your laughing hysterically, you are just all over the place.” I couldn’t help but think back to the book where she wrote that a lot of her friendships, relationships, and even a marriage failed because of that very reason. All I could do was cry inside because, the truth of the matter is, no matter how much research you do on the subject, THIS IS STILL ME. This is how I am going to be for the rest of my life. Yes, I can do my best to control the rapidness and the severity of it. Yes, I can keep taking my meds religiously to keep myself as even as I possibly can, but there is no magic pill that is going to keep me completely 100% even at all times. There just isn’t. Medication and still adhering to all possible therapies does not always account for environmental factors, like moving or traveling, or arguing with people close to you, which can set off your perfect balance.
I went home and cried last night thinking, if this is what some of my friends think, and I have been taking all of my meds religiously and sticking very strictly to all my therapies and everything I can to remain stable, then I’m sure many others, if not everyone, thinks this way. So, in my head I begin to believe that every time I go anywhere, people are laughing at me, or they are nice to my face but then whispering behind my back. There was so much paranoia, I think I was making myself worse.
I have made so many changes in my life to try to make the mood swings a little less dramatic, to make them a little less high and a little less low, to make my recovery time better. But, again, the truth of the matter is that this is my biology and medication can only do so much. They can’t CURE these types of issues in my brain, but can only help make them better. I am completely saddened because I finally, after all these years of feeling different, have made some sense and clarity of why I am the way I am, and why I make friends quickly, but then quickly they are gone, and why I hurt the ones that I love. (NOT INTENTIONALLY, but they can’t handle the ups and downs and the whole bipolar package either.) I just wish that they could try to understand that I am doing everything that I can and that some of this REALLY IS biology.
I am going to post a excerpt of the book in hopes that maybe, just maybe, either someone who is bipolar will read it, relate, and then feel better knowing that others relate too; but also in hopes that those who don’t have bipolar will read it and perhaps realize that it is not just their friend or their loved one that behaves that way, but others with bipolar do too because that is part of what having bipolar is.
I also want my friends and everyone in my life to know that I am not mad, upset, or angry with them because they might not understand. I want to give them some information to try to help them understand because I truly feel that they think that these types of episodes and mood swings are attacks against them personally, and that I am only this way because of issues with them, but that is not the case. I try really hard to understand all of you and I just want you guys to be able to understand me in hopes that maybe this will bring us closer and maybe help in understanding that these are not personal or intentional against you.
There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you’re high it’s tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow thyen until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty. There aer interest found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euporia pervade one’s marrow. But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends’ faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against–you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of themind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality. It goes on and on, and finally there are only others’ recollections of your behavior–Your bizarre, frenetic, aimless behaviors-for mania has at least some grace in partially obliterating emeories. What then, after the medications, psychiatrist, despair, depression, and overdose? All those incredible feelings to sort through. WHo is being too polite to say waht? Who knows what? What did I do? Why? And most hauntingly, when will it happen again? Then, too, are the bitter reminders–medicine to take, resent, forget, take resent, and forget, but always to take, Credit cards revoked, bounced checks to cover, explanations due at work, apologies to make, intermittent memories (what DID I do?), friendships gone or drained, a ruined marriage. And always, when will it happen again? WHich of my feeling are real? WHich of the me’s is me? The wild, impulsive, chaotic, energetic and crazy one? Or the shy, withdrawn, desperate, suicidal, doomed, and tired on? Probably a bit of both, hopefully much that is neither.
An Unquiet Mind, A memoir of moods and madness by Kay Redfield Jamison
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