It’s not that I don’t mean what I said this morning. For those who weren’t there I had woken to a manic episode, shotgunned posts on social media, and went on a highly passionate rambling binge lacking the wherewithal most people use to determine if they’re behaving in an appropriate manner or not. I was going on three hours of sleep and my thoughts and feelings were magnified by my mood shift. If I were in the state of mind I consider to be my real self, I might say the same things with more tact, or have withheld some of the feelings expressed out of self preservation.
After a nap, I went to have a coffee and check back in with my social media but had a panic attack instead when my earlier behavior dawned on me. I had to lay back down and I was thinking, because I think I may have either bit off more than I can chew, or made myself vulnerable by not protecting raw emotions from public scrutiny, or possibly just *felt* exposed even if I didn’t actually expose myself, that sometimes having bipolar is like being in a relationship with an abuser that you can’t leave, and that you can’t protect yourself from.
I have PTSD from my manic episode of 2014, because of how severe the mood swing was, how long it lasted, and the damage I did to my family and myself without being fully cognizant of my own actions until it was too late to undo or take back everything that happened.
I think people have a hard time understanding that one can’t consent when they don’t have control of their own faculties when those faculties don’t present themselves in an obvious way such as with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other better understood or perhaps, better accepted conditions.
I can’t wake up in a big mood and get to decide that I’m going to regulate myself when it’s happening, I have to live through it whether I’m prepared for that mood or what happens during the mood or not.
It’s why people struggling with mental illness are often blamed for their illness.
I mean I know y’all can comprehend the state of drunkenness and the results of waking up the next morning piecing together what kind of ass you made of yourself the night before, either from your own memories or hearing about your behavior from witnesses. A severe bipolar 1 mood swing is essentially a drunken black out but you don’t get the privilege of having a universally identifiable substance and experience to blame.
I still get asked when I’m going to take responsibility for my actions when I was unable to consent to my own behavior, despite the fact that I live with the devastating consequences of that behavior everyday.
So when that mood revisits me, like it did this morning, and like it’s been doing more frequently, it feels like I’m being forced to meet with my abuser who did irreparable harm to me, that destroyed me, that I can’t separate myself from, because how can you walk away from yourself?
I’m at my own mercy, and yet bipolar disorder, or any mental illness, does not encompass mercy. I have no control over the intensity that comes along with facing myself both when I’m experiencing a high volume of intensity, and the resulting crash, and I’m left to pick up the pieces of my own loss of control on my own, even with supports in place. Nobody is capable of sharing, or guiding me through my personal lived experience 24 hours a day, despite the fact that an incurable mental illness never ends. Some times are easier to manage than others but there will always be times when it’s simply too fucking much to handle.
Please don’t condescend me with unsolicited advice, as if I am not already actively doing what I can to manage my illness. Just like any disease, even with all the right supports in place, it can still ravage the person living through it.
The reason for this post, and my desire to express myself is the same as always, to speak openly about a still widely stigmatized disorder, not only for me but for anyone living with bipolar, or any chronic MI who, for whatever reason, can’t speak out for themselves.
I know I’m not alone but it’s a lonesome experience that many people have to deal with for their entire lives, and many do it alone because to talk openly is to risk losing our dignity, respect, to risk rejection not only from potential friends, partners, and loved ones but also employment and career opportunities, not to mention loss of parental rights when MI can be used against us in custody trails.
We deserve better, for our communities to educate themselves and meet us with love, acceptance, compassion, and understanding. Mental illness should not be a crime but it has been criminalized when we go to jail for having psychosis and a well check means a fully weaponized law enforcement officer is the one to do that check, and not a mental health care provider.
I’m in a unique position that I can talk about this because I’ve already lost pretty much everything there is to lose and until I see a change in how mental illness is treated by the world at large, I believe it’s my responsibility to keep talking.
*original pic not taken from the internet