What am I?

Disclaimer: I am NOT a psychiatric or medical professional. The below is based on personal experience.

This is new for me.

No, that’s not right. The fact is, this is not new for me. It was there when I was a teenager and starved myself for six months. It was there when I argued with girlfriends in college for the terrible things I was sure they were thinking about me. It was there when I screamed at my boss and then walked away because I was sure I knew better. And it was there when I cried in my wife’s lap, certain it would be the last time.

It’s just that now I have a name for it.

The first time I heard the term “Bipolar Disorder”, I was in high school. A friend’s father was diagnosed, and I, like most people who first hear the term, was fascinated. Just which personality was he at that barbecue last weekend? What did my friend mean when he said his dad was “going off the rails”? Was he going to have to go to the mental hospital?

In other words, I had no idea what it was. And unfortunately I was, and still am, not alone.

For the uninitiated, Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder:

“Characterized by the occurrence of 1 or more manic or mixed episodes…followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes, but these are not required” (Source).

To put it in terms of my own manifestation, it’s less Jekyll and Hyde and more Jekyll and Jekyll’s Asshole Twin Brother.

The fact is, everyone’s experience of Bipolar Disorder differs in intensity, frequency, and symptomatic specificity which is why it is often difficult to tell if your symptoms are in fact Bipolar or something else entirely. Only about 2.6-2.8% of the U.S. population has been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. That’s 9.1 million people in the U.S. However, with the difficulty of diagnosis, it’s difficult to tell the number unreported (Source)

The day I came home and told my wife I had quit my job suddenly, without a plan, and in a manic rage, I thought she might explode, herself, or at least be hurt by my thoughtlessness, but she smiled and said: “Good”. The fact was, my job was exacerbating my condition and she knew that. Unfortunately, when you have Bipolar Disorder, it affects everyone around you too. It was difficult for her to see me suffering from bouts of depression and manic restlessness. I believe, as she told me that night, if I hadn’t quit that day I probably not be writing this.

She reminded me that I was not alone in this, and I’m here to pay that forward. I’m here to remind all of you, no matter if you have Bipolar or someone you love has the disorder, no matter if it seems like no one can understand, no matter if you feel like there’s no one sharing your struggles, you are anything but alone.

To find further resources, visit www.mindcoaster.com/resources

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