There are times when I absolutely want to scream at friends or family, or throw things around my room, but then (usually very shortly) after, I feel absolutely, devastatingly horrible for even letting a thought like that cross my mind. And when I say “absolutely, devastatingly horrible,” I’m not talking about the typical, standard, everyday remorse that is felt when you say, think, or do something in the heat of the moment and you immediately apologize and then both parties talk about it and move on. I’m talking about the feeling in which your conscience starts nagging at you, like the commercials where the puppy is tugging on the humans pant leg for attention, making you feel remorseful for something you didn’t even do, just something you thought of; and you carry that around for quite some time, weighing so heavy on you, it feels like you can’t breathe. If you did actually verbally let it out and/or engage in a full throttle attack, you might muster up the courage to admit and confirm that you know you should not have said/done those things because you didn’t really mean them, and then offer a sincere apology. But, even if the apology is accepted, it doesn’t mean that you still won’t carry that heavy weight on your chest around for a long time.
A typical response would include feeling remorseful for a few minutes for thinking or acting the way you did. At least, that’s how most people would handle that situation. They don’t carry guilt for days, weeks, years after something like that. They can let it go. Things used to be easier back in the day when communication was limited to actual phone calls, written letters, or in person visits. Times have changed and we aren’t in Pleasantville with our “Leave It To Beaver” prototype family and our cookie cutter Stepford Wives anymore. We are in reality, the year 2015 where we don’t spell things out anymore, but use acronyms for everything like LOL, TTYL, etc. and we talk to people all over the world “real time” using no more than 140 characters on this platform called Twitter. Everything is updated BY THE SECOND! It’s like lightening speed and ironically, THAT actually somewhat mirrors us rapid cyclers who can go up and down the 1 through 10 spectrum from -10 to 20 back to 0 back to 20 again all in the course of an hour or two.
While many of us with bipolar carry the weight of remorse or guilt around for quite a long time, it affects our everyday emotions like love, hurt, and sadness. A standard response or rational reaction to something, when experienced by someone with bipolar disorder, could be so far from the norm it is often recognized as being “overdramatic” or “too emotional”. From my own experience with having bipolar disorder, I can tell you on a rationality scale of 1-10 with 1 being the most rational and 10 being the most IRRATIONAL, having bipolar adjusts the scale so that the 1 through 10 becomes -10 through 20.
Now before you start to freak out because someone you love has bipolar, or start thinking about things like “Look at Britney Spears or (insert high profile individual’s name here),” let me start off by saying that there are pluses and minuses for us that have bipolar having these types of reactions. ITS NOT ALWAYS BAD! Why is it not always bad?
Well, some may think that the “dramatics” can be a bit much (trust me, I don’t think we enjoy the physical exhaustion that goes along with our intense feelings) and it can, but for us, we have the ability to feel more passionately. When we love, we love with every ounce of us, which can be good… for the person we love. But, if something happens to that love or in that relationship, we feel the pain more deeply because our love was so deep.
Lets think about it again on a scale; its easier to understand.
If we all start out with our moods at a zero, with zero being not happy, but not sad, just even. When someone WITHOUT bipolar loves someone, that love is at a 10, and when something happens, they go from 10 back to zero. Someone WITH bipolar loves someone and their love is a 20, something happens in the relationship and they are to return to zero. That’s a much larger drop in a quick amount of time. So, while it can be advantageous for us because we feel the good feelings so deeply, it also makes it hard because we feel the bad feelings that much more deeply.
Thus, while some can say that we are “over dramatic” or that we are “too emotional” they are in part correct. We are “over” dramatic, but not because we want attention or because we intentionally are trying to blow things out of proportion. It is because we FEEL things more deeply. Now, we can debate for hours about if it’s a blessing or if its a curse, and in my opinion, it can be both. But, at the end of the day, I would rather be able to feel emotions more deeply and more intense than to not feel any emotions at all. I like the feeling of being happy. Of course I don’t like the feeling of the crash that inevitably will follow, but just to be able to feel that happiness, is worth it.
The next time someone tells you “you are being too dramatic” or calls you a “drama queen” or something similar, instead of snapping back that you are not, own it and say, “Yes. I may be dramatic right now, but, that’s how my feelings work. They work in extremes, and I am aware of that. I know you experience things differently.” And for those of you that do not have bipolar, before you instinctively tell someone with bipolar that they are a “drama queen” or “too dramatic,” try to remember that they know they are. They can’t help the WAY they feel. They can learn how to deal with their extreme highs and lows and how to manage them so they don’t interfere with their daily lives, but that doesn’t change HOW they feel. However, it is the same for those of us with bipolar. Instead of insinuating that the other person does not care, or does not love you, etc. you have to accept that they may not feel their feelings as deeply as you do, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t feel them. They feel them to the extent of their capacity.