I have survived for 32 years despite my best efforts. Consequently, I talk about mental health a lot because it affects me every day. I talk about it with my therapists, my friends, my family, the Internet. I talk about my scars from self-harm, my suicide attempts, my battle with addiction, the miscarriages I had, and the continuing, day-to-day frustrations of living with my disorders.
I always want people to immediately understand bipolar as I do, and it is frustrating. How do you explain something so immense, and intricate, in a couple of minutes of causal conversation? I just want to get from point A to point B, quickly. But I have found that saying “hello, my name is Sean, and I have bipolar disorder,” isn’t the most effective way to set the groundwork for any type of relationship.
Take a minute to jot down your gratitude’s. The practice can turn the negatives to positives and I believe make the pain – both physical and mental – a little more manageable. Since the time it’s taken me to type out this list, the pain has subsided. Maybe I’m just distracted. Maybe the pain isn’t as bad as I thought. I really don’t care. I feel grounded and centered in this moment.
The first time I sought out a professional respite, a brief moment flashed by where I let out a genuine sigh of relief. After months of insomnia, I was fighting off sleep during work hours, often dosing off where I stood. There was no longer a struggle for a balance between keeping myself together, and falling into rapid cycles of mania and depression. At that point, I was holding on by a thread for my life. The morning that thread snapped, I walked into work at 4a. I realized I could no longer keep my composure and fight the rising madness I tightly kept contained inside. At 6a, I walked out of my job, called a friend, and asked for a ride to the ER. I was finally ok with giving in and seeking what I thought was going to be a period of rest and relief from my difficult and unmanageable life.
Reality is far more joyful and content than any moment living the thrill of mania or a good high. Being sane and clean beats insanity or illegal drug use any day –factoring ups, downs or anything in between. While this may sound like easy logic to some, it presents a life worth living to me. There’s nothing boring about that.
But there is one feeling that’s unnecessary: the loneliness, and in my time supporting my wife, I’ve never felt more lonely. In times of crisis we tend to wall ourselves away from each other because we’re too afraid to talk about what we’re experiencing. In all of my internet searching, it felt like I was the first husband who had to take his wife to the psych ward, because no one out there was talking or writing about it.
Calling all manic-depressives! Personally, I like that term better than bi-polar. But that’s just me. When I tell someone I live with bipolar disorder I wonder if they really know what I’m talking about. When I tell them I live with manic-depression I think that explains it all. Mania –…