Once upon a time I had a friend who went through a very difficult time.
Out of nowhere she started having a lot of over whelming unwieldy emotional difficulties.
There was rampant anxiety, some panic attacks, deep debilitating depression, and some irritablity and agitation.
She went to therapy, she invested herself in some deep spiritual searching, and she got herself a few (necessary) benzos to keep handy.
What came of all this?
Was she diagnosed with a mental disorder? Was she prescribed medication? Was she told she would deal with this for the rest of her life….that her brain was always going to have a penchant for running itself right off the rails?
That isn’t what happened.
She learned that she was dealing with delayed grief.
She had lost someone very important to her a couple of years prior to all of this. She had a busy life. She thought she had processed the loss. She thought she was okay.
Turns out she was wrong and she had a ton of work to do.
There were tears, there was railing against the universe, there were deep spiritual questions, and just plain old anger, and a lot of sliding around the stages of grief
Fortunately, she found herself some top notch therapy and committed herself to wellness and to healing.
And she came through it.
Is it over? Well I don’t know a lot about grief but I hear tell that it is a slippery beast and can creep up on a person.
But she has healed immensely. And as far as she is concerned she has conquered it.
Why am I telling you this lovely story?
Well, she told me that one of the worst parts of it was that at the beginning of the severe emotional storm, the panic, the depression, the irritation was that…
SHE HAD NO IDEA WHY IT WAS HAPPENING
and it terrified her
not only was she dealing with all of it
and deep in a pit of hell
but she was also dealing with the fact that she could not understand how or why it could possibly be happening to her.
She told me she was beyond afraid that she was…
that she was…
LOSING HER MIND
Now I am sure that you can imagine what sparked in me as I listened to this.
But she did it for me. She said, “I think I understand a little more what it is like for you.”
And I didn’t start my usual monologue on how nobody can possibly understand this…which is weaved all through this blog..
Because I think she probably did understand a little more.
and I said
“Imagine if that just happened to you over and over again with no external reason why. That is kind of what it is like…like my brain decides to act like it would if something truly awful has happened…for no reason.”
“That really sucks.”
uh huh yeah
So that is just another little thought about Bipolar. Another stab at trying to explain it to the nonBipolars out there.
It is as if our brains lose the appropriate normal driving directions and just start careening around…down one way streets…through no left turns….off roading through fields….
taking us to places in the brain that would only normally be activated in times when terrible things happened to us…
but we find ourselves there anyway…with no reason at all…or from a trigger that does not warrant the extent of this “reaction”
because even the most gargantuan trigger will not send a normal person or a neurotypical past the outer edges of severe emotional psychological distress into a true Bipolar episode.
That little amusement park funhouse is reserved for us card carrying members.
I remember having some issue one time…I honestly cannot even remember what it was…oh yeah I think I do…
but anyway it was sad
I remember feeling a niggling relief and curiosity
because I KNEW WHY it was happening
It was an emotional state…a sadness…an emotion… something that COULD be talked through…that WASN’T about a med adjustment….that COULD be processed and worked through.
like a normal thing
like a normal emotional issue.
And that was cool
And that is the thing about Bipolar. We feel emotions (especially pre diagnosis) and the conventional societal wisdom on the subject of feelings and emotions is to talk about, not bottle it, work through it, go to therapy, find the root of the issue…
so we try that ferociously
But that is totally detrimental to the Bipolar experience of brain disordered emotional manifestations
because what works for processing normal emotional, psychological issues, does not stop a Bipolar episode…does not resolve the “feelings” caused by the disordered brain.
Because they aren’t “feelings” and “emotions” in the normal sense of those words.
They are the product of abnormal brain structures, chemistry, functions
We need more help and guidance on
ENDURING rather than CURING
We spend a lot of time pre and post diagnosis with the fear that we
As a very young, super cycling, undiagnosed or even aware of Bipolar, Bipolar girl
I often uttered the phrase “I’m fucking psychotic” and “I’m gonna lose my fucking mind!”
Now, I was not actually psychotic and I had no real idea what psychosis even was
but what I meant was
something is happening in me that is not in proportion to anything around me…and it feels wrong…it feels crazy…it feels like there is a big problem here….
and That is a Scary feeling
Wouldn’t you say?