Gemini, naturally bi-polar? This I don’t know for sure, but I do know the elation of extreme highs and the lowest darkness you cannot begin to imagine… unless like me you suffer from a mood disorder, amongst other things or hallucinate – I don’t have that party trick. No, I am not referring to being female. *wink*
I have been to both poles, have you?
First diagnosed with manic depression and anxiety attacks at the age of 14, and later as the medical profession became more sophisticated, Bi-polar II (yes, you even get different types – none is more fragrant than the other however) and Generalised Anxiety Disorder with extreme anxiety.
I have been on and off medication since. I have been called everything from mad, to excentric, to different to fucking mental to bonkers, to interesting, to larger than life to …….. – none offend me I assure you. Funny how most mentally ill will take medication for all types of illness, no problemo but fuck can we fight against taking happy pills. The stigma, nobody must know ’cause they will think us weak, please wrap my package in brown paper! or heaven help us, people may think we mad! Fuck that. As far as I am concerned plenty people go undiagnosed who should be bloody medicated!!!!
Personally I am openly bi-polar, I speak about depression and anxiety attacks – I may lighten the mood with my quirks at work some days but it takes a very long time and confidence to be open about it. If I had AIDS, I would like to believe I would act similarly…. you see in me blogging about illness, talking about it without shame or embarrassment it allows others to gain confidence that they are no less because medically they are labelled. There is no difference in being diabetic than being bi-polar! You would feel no shame in sharing you need insulin would you?
True, I would not at the start of an interview say, “Oh and btw, I’m bleeding bonkers” but hell if they hadn’t figured out yet by looking at me, my ability to do my job well should have them worrying less. This said my friend Suzette says I am not allowed to use the scissors unsupervised. hahahahahah
This issue is what I get the most e-mail about. So many readers hiding in the mental closet. Hey, if gay people can get married and be proud, why do you feel you need to live in darkness?
Mania is wonderful, dangerous but oh so glorious. It is what I call feeling bullet proof – I can do ANYTHING. I can conquer the world and a find a new frontier while I am at it. I work like a demon, I would spend more willingly (I am not a big spender) and my actions are erratic, unrealistic, busy, not dangerous to anyone but I’m HIGH for sure. High on life, love, sex, eating – elation. That part of bi-polar is fabulous! You can’t get enough. Duracell bunny has nothing on you! You rearrange cupboards, move furniture around, fetch post for the first time in months, actually take the debt collectors call, you phone that principle back who wants to complain about your mini-me kid…. you want to do the 702 big walk, you want to see, feel, taste, smell everything and the entire world is in blue ray with surround sound and you love it! I may even answer the phone! haha!
The down – not so much fun. You give one word answers. Getting out of bed is an achievement. You give your kids a cupcake for breakfast that you would never usually do but it is the least fuss and frankly lets avoid all and any conflict. You feel invincible (and I am nogal hard to miss), a deep sadness and a void so big the twin towers could have ended up in your soul and you experience the horror, fear and eventually an evil sadness. It steals your joy, things you love doing you suddenly don’t care about. You can watch paint dry if everyone would just leave you the hell alone. You are horrible company, cry with your sunglasses on cause you don’t want attention or to be asked “what’s wrong” because you don’t know what’s wrong dammit!!! …….can’t they see its the end of the world? “Snap out of it” is words that will turn your depression into violence and “tomorrow is another day” is equally condescending. Fuck off you wanna say but energy is lacking. Is crap, right that moment you hope to never see tomorrow. You consider suicide but that would mean at least getting off the bed to go find pills (my choice, my right hand is not proper due to the bone illness to wrist cutting is out of the question and guns are so violent, makes a mess and I don’t own one!)
Then somehow, after doing nothing special….you slowly creep back out again and next minute you are spinning the wheel, the lights are flashing, you won the jackpot, you sun bath nude and life is abundant in colours and excitement.
Bi-polar the rollercoaster for the brave.
So – you medicate because if you have to tell one more psychologist your life story you may as well write the book without hiding the identity of those that will need to be placed in witness protection. What medication does for me is to give me a middle ground. Not excessively HIGH and not suicidal LOW…. it gives me balance and controls my anxiety levels – I’m less fun in my opinion, more numb but nicer to live and work with since you go between mania and depression so often – it makes me more predictable (mediocre ugh). I get anxious easily and need reassurance often – a pain in the ass. For that reason I sometimes think I shouldn’t have married ever, I should never have had kids, I should have been a nun, except I’m only Catholic on Friday’s to eat fish and I like sex….. God and me… we also have issues, so that wouldn’t have worked out well. Sorry God! …This is my thought pattern purely because I am hard work at times (not always) and I find it devastating to think who I am is a burden. I hate owing anyone anything and don’t want them wasting their time thinking they can cure me, put me back to together again.
All the kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t put Wenchy back together again if they tried! I was never meant to be together. I was meant to be ME, to share my story so somebody else can feel less shame in a world where we constantly bombarded with what is “normal”, to be more “positive” and not be humble enough to say “Hey… we ALL HAVE ISSUES, these happen to be mine and I am doing the best I can – sometimes even I am normal and positive!”
In short let me give you some medical background to understand why madness doesn’t offend me – it explains how my body was put together – but IT DOES NOT DEFINE WHO I AM AS A PERSON:
“Bipolar disorder is a physical illness marked by extreme changes in mood, energy and behaviour. That’s why doctors classify it as a mood disorder.
Bipolar disorder – which is also known as manic-depressive illness and will be called by both names throughout this publication – is a mental illness involving episodes of serious mania and depression. The person’s mood usually swings from overly “high” and irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, with periods of normal mood in between.
Mood swings that come with bipolar disorder are severe, ranging from extremes in energy or “highs” to deep despair. The severity of the mood swings and the way they disrupt normal activities distinguish clinical mood episodes from ordinary mood changes. ”
but wait, there is more!
“Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is much more than the normal anxiety people experience day-to-day. Chronic and exaggerated worry and tension, even though nothing seems to provoke it. Having this disorder means always anticipating disaster, often worrying excessively about health, money, family, or work. Even though sometimes the source of the worry is hard to pinpoint. Simply the thought of getting through the day provokes anxiety.
Generalised anxiety disorder is characterised by feelings of threat, restlessness, irritability, sleep disturbance, and tension, and symptoms such as palpitations, dry mouth, and sweating. These symptoms are recognised as part of the anxiety syndrome rather than independent complaints. The symptoms overlap greatly with those of other common mental disorders and we could regard the disorder as part of a spectrum of mood and related disorders rather than an independent disorder.”
Today I am thankful that I do have the capability to reach others and to say out loud, “ME TOO, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.”
“There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you’re high its tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one’s marrow. But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends’ faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against– you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.”
— Kay Redfield Jamison (An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness)