My official diagnosis is A-typical rapid cycling bipolar with hypomanic episodes. I have the more severe version of an extremely severe mental illness. I have the version that cycles rapidly and wildly with no warning.
As an added bonus, I also get the add on of “A-typical,” meaning, it’s the abnormal version of that ridiculous diagnosis.
My psychiatrist expressed to me that one of the features that makes my case so A-typical is that I “present” as normal to the general population. He finds it fascinating that I am able to hold a job and function in the world, maintain a marriage, be a mother…. and be successful at it. He finds it compelling that even his staff doesn’t pick up on how friendly I am with death. That when I call and ask to speak with my doctor they push my name to the bottom of the list because they believe me to be this charismatic woman who’s capable and functional.
This week I cycled from a hypomanic episode where super spy movies were AMAZING and I daydreamed about being a secret agent dressing in black, to a sort of normal phase where I am back to being able to again extend the niceties that come with human existence without nausea.
But with this last episode something fundamental has shifted in my thinking.
It strikes me that no matter what I do I will always cycle. Drugs and alcohol didn’t stop it. Sobriety didn’t stop it. Medications don’t stop it.
I am an ever cycling cycling cycling cycling cycling round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round woman. There is no end to a circle. So what does this mean for me?
After hearing of my recover from this recent episode a dear friend texted:
“So, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel?”
I considered my response.
I had done my due diligence. I had called my psychiatrist and told on myself. I had gone to my meeting even though I didn’t want to. I filled the prescription I wasn’t interested in taking. I took it. It made me ill as fuck – and I took it anyway. And I did feel better after about 5 days. I did. But it’s temporary. And I don’t consider it a light at the end of a tunnel. Tunnels are straight. And they end.
I closed my eyes and tried to picture myself coming to the end of this metaphorical tunnel, but I didn’t see it. Instead I saw myself trapped under the ice of a lake – a huge round frozen lake. And I was pounding against the ice, drowning. Pounding furiously at first, but as time wore on with less energy and less vigor… drifting along with the current, watching life through the haze of the ice, ready to give up and sink to the bottom. The only saving grace was that every once in a while I heard tiny cracks …. tiny sounds of hope…. and I kicked, and the ice broke and I pulled myself up with great relief and elation…..
Warmth, in the real world. It’s surreal at first. And it can last for a while.
But you always begin to slip back under, being swept away again with the tide.
Every once in a while when the ice breaks open I’m surprised to poke my head out and see a full blown goddamn RAVE going on at the shore. And I’m thinking “Really? A rave? ~ AMAZING~ I’m in” And the party is on. But as I spin around to the deep base of the house music, somewhere I know that this rave is highly unusual. But after so long circling the lake, don’t I deserve a RAVE? I know I’m going back in that fucking lake any minute anyway.
And so I pose the question, how many times can you feel relief with escape from the ice before you become indifferent to it….. knowing it’s temporary?
There is no light at the end of any tunnel. There is just cycling. And learning to live with that and managing the dynamic personality that comes with it. The reality that people are drawn to me without knowing why.
I recently asked a BP friend why she doesn’t kill herself and she said, “Most of the time it comes down to curiosity.”
I said, “I know what I’m capable of, there’s no mystery there.”
She said, “Not of myself, of everyone else around me.”
So, my vow is to remain curious of those around me. To be authentic about my needs and desires. To be honest about my limitations, because regardless of how I “present” I have limitations. To enact self care more then I have been. And to live a life that excites me. And do things that I love daily. Because if I don’t create an exciting life for myself I don’t know how I’ll convince myself to live it.