Personality Trait or Disorder Culprit?
I am constantly conflicted as to whether something I do, or don’t do, or a way in which I react, or don’t react, is a derivative of my inherent personality or if it is a standard trait of having bipolar disorder. And of course, without hesitation, it is always the unfavorable parts of me that I immediately attribute to being bipolar.
Among the most unfavorable behaviors is my anger. Every time I get frustrated with something, or someone, and it evolves into a rage of internal anger, I tell myself, and the person who may be involved in the situation, that I can’t help it. That it is because of my bipolar that I cannot handle the stressful situation appropriately. That it’s because of the illness that I am unable to control my anger when a stressful situation gets out of hand.
And when I say stressful situation, I pretty much mean anything that happens in my daily life that is unexpected and not part of my routine. Like a long phone call that wasn’t on my schedule. Or having to deviate from my meticulously crafted work schedule for an unplanned personal errand. Other things that fuel the fire are when things are out of order. Like walking into a room and all of the curtains are closed, where I prefer all of them to be opened. Or finding the kitchen counter covered in crumbs or simply a dirty plate. Or the ultimate stress-kicker: multiple pairs of shoes tossed throughout the house instead of being put away neatly. I think it is clear to see why I think these reactions are irrational therefore must be directly connected to a typical bipolar disorder trait rather than to a quirky or particular personality profile. Right?
But what truly worries me is the serious bouts of anger and overwhelming frustration when I cannot even speak, let alone begin to find any order in my head to calm the situation. It is when one or two or many of these small divots in my expected routine take place one after the other that my anger and frustration build. If I am alone, I am able to angrily put things in the order I prefer them in, eventually finding calmness in the cadence of tidying and organizing. My concern, that brought me to really attempt to analyze these behaviors, is when there is another person on the scene that I can’t help but direct my anger towards in muddled and fumbled irrational sentences. Or complete burning silence.
It never seems to be my fault no matter what. At least that is the lie I tell myself. I either blame the disorder, or too often, the other person. So I have been trying to really recognize whether my behavior is simply a flawed, but unique, personality trait. Or whether I need to find more direct ways to master my illness’s distinct idiosyncrasies.
Either way, I constantly feel that my reaction to things being not how I want them, or expect them to be, means there is something wrong with me. Passing it off and blaming it on my bipolar so I can write it off is just the easiest thing to do. But it no longer feels like the right thing to do. I can barely get the words from my head to the paper, let alone out of my mouth. But it is time I take responsibility for my actions, no matter what the trigger is.
I’ve come to realize that even if my extremely frustrated anger with very simple things is tied into the way my mind works with having bipolar or my personality, that I am still responsible for those actions, and reactions, and that I must take steps to address that and find ways to deal with it. That may mean to create even more routine in my life to rule out as much of the unexpected as possible. And that may also mean I need to proactively come up with ways to deal with those scenarios before they happen, so when they do arise, I will have better tools to handle the situations. Which are every day.
In the end, I feed off the challenge. If I am not constantly making incremental changes in order to better myself or my surroundings, then I get more and more depressed. This is definitely the disorder – also known as being in a constant low-grade dysphoric mania, too agitated to sit still in life, unless depression has me pinned down to the couch. Luckily, most of the time this keeps things moving, deadlines achieved and the house clean. It is when I stop trying to improve and fine-tune things that I get bored and become unmotivated. I don’t want to just live with bipolar disorder, I want to thrive with it. And I know that this behavior is straight from my personality index, and it’s called being stubborn!