I have bipolar disorder.
What this essentially means is that I can experience extremes of emotion. “Bi” means “two” and “poles” are the ends of something – think of the North and South Pole. Most people exist, emotionally speaking, comfortably in the middle, on Earth. They only travel to the two poles for special occasions. One could feel depression if somebody they love has died, mania if they’ve just fallen in love.
Bipolar people are unique because we go to the two poles, or extremes of emotion, quite frequently. And often for no reason. Our brain misfires and the slightest trigger can send us spiraling out of control.
I’m a type two, which means I’m focused more on depression than mania. I also have anxious features, which means I’m prone to experiencing extreme worry over every little thing, small or big. And I rapid cycle often – this means that most of my episodes are mild, but come in short, frequent spurts.
I first started experiencing bipolar symptoms in high school. I was bullied and my family went through lots of drama in grade school, and I experienced my first grief and loss in high school, which could have contributed to my depressive symptoms.
But it all really came to a head in college. I experienced control and emotional abuse at the hands of college roommates, which left me feeling extremely isolated and alone. I also went through a period where I was being virtually stalked by someone. This made me spin myself into madness. I experienced chronic weight loss, insomnia, delusions, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, and episodes of hypomania.
Luckily, I got myself out of that environment. I took a year off for health reasons, then switched schools, moving closer to my family. The stalking ended, and my life moved on. I was officially diagnosed, went through therapy, went through the struggle to find the right meds. That happened years ago, and I haven’t had any really serious problems since. I’m not suicidal or delusional anymore. I’m very lucky.
But sometimes I still have problems. I was having so much fun drinking and watching Times Square on TV for New Years Eve, I forgot to take my meds. I had to go without them for a full 24 hours in order to keep up with my normal schedule, and together with my crippling headache I’m also experiencing hunger and nausea, as well as exhaustion but being unable to sleep.
It doesn’t help that off my meds, I experience lots of racing thoughts and random creative inspirations. I’m a creative writer, and there’s nothing like the nastier, more seductive side of bipolar disorder for making me start random projects I’m never going to finish. I have to tamp down on the ideas and obsessive thoughts, telling myself – in typical rapid cycling fashion – to just wait till the morning and see if it still sounds like a good idea then.