Sometimes it seems I am the only one in this entire universe who has any type of difficulty dealing with the past. I’m not sure whether this has anything to do with my hypersensitivity or not, but I suspect it’s not entirely unrelated.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had what seems, an abnormal amount of trouble forming and maintaining relationships. Again, not sure if it has much to do with an ever oscillating mind, an ever exaggerated mood, but I’d be willing to bet there is at least some fraction of a correlation. But I cannot know for sure.
I think that is perhaps the most horrific circumstance of all. Sensing something is the matter, knowing at the very least that something is wrong, but then also realizing that whatever it is, it is invisible.
Whatever this beast is, it cannot be seen or held or measured; it can’t be shown or heard, it cannot be proven. Not scientifically in any case, and it seems most often that’s the part that truly matters. It’s what matters to most anyone else, who would be willing to believe it’s not “just me”. That it’s not just me that there is something fundamentally wrong with, that the inconvenience I cause is not solely the consequence of choice.
I am bipolar. Sometimes I wear my label a badge of honor; mostly I hide it, a shield from pain. I must hide my struggles because that is the only way I will not be crucified it seems. For in this society, the mere mention of my affliction is all too often sufficient justification to cast one away into the band of “troublesome”, another “not worth the effort”. I cannot tell you what this feels like, to receive no honor, no badge to wear proudly, to show that I have struggled and overcome, that I too, am a survivor.
So when I find the nerve to ask, I like to inquire of others what their No.1 question would be, if I were to explain to them anything at all relating to my illness. The answer I receive is almost universal. What is it like? And a tricky question it is, being asked to describe something so ethereal.
I think the most maddening part about being bipolar is that the disorder is one of degree rather than substance, an unfortunate circumstance, relegating an illness so simple to justify away. Everyone feels that way sometimes, they say. And they are right. This is true. And still yet, missing the point entirely.
Supposing words could be sufficient, the highs and lows for me, feel this way:
Say you have a regular mentally healthy person. You can literally watch them fall in love, head over heals and see all of their elation and satisfaction and pleasure. And then you can watch their post-elation rejection and see all of their anger and pain and disappointment. Falling in love and having someone reject your love are two of the most extreme sets of feelings a human being can have, but they happen few and far in between.
To be bipolar is to feel that same way, the same strength of each of those emotions, on a daily basis, bouncing back and forth from one extreme to the other. Our hearts are constantly breaking. Or at least mine is, I can tell you that. The euphoric elation spurred by hope of dreams come true overwhelms me, and then reality sets in and I see I’m just a fool and then the disappointment and anger set in. And all this happens on a day-to-day basis. The bouncing back and forth is what kills me. (May 2008)
Being bipolar is agonizing. There is no getting around that fact. Far worse, though, is living within the agony all alone.
How I do wish that others could understand…