The Bipolar Bum

Backpacking and Bipolar II. Taking Manic Depression on tour.

Cognitive Dissonance



So, Wikipedia says:

In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the excessive mental stress and discomfort[1] experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time. This stress and discomfort may also arise within an individual who holds a belief and performs a contradictory action or reaction.


Last night I felt the bottom rushing up to hit me.  I had been irritable for almost the entire day but I had tried to just push through and deal with it.  I know this was a mistake, I should have rested early in the afternoon.


I had an attack of profound loneliness and all of the usual negative self talk started.

“Nobody loves me”

“What the hell am I doing with my life?”

“I need to get away”

I sat in bed last night fully aware that I was riding the crest of a wave.  My mood was swinging and I knew it. I had seen it coming, braced myself and all of a sudden I was enthralled in a turbulent mental battle, trying to plug a hundred head-leaks with only ten fingers.

It was disarming and distressing when I drew the comparison between Bipolar and inconstant weather.  I saw the storm cloud approaching, I know I haven’t caused the weather, or that I have any control over it – Even knowing all this; I still got wet.

As every negative thought popped up, I tried to knock it down.  It was exhausting and the act of resisting made me feel ridiculous and pathetic.  “Is this what life is going to be like?” the backstabber in my brain started saying.

The best way I can describe this to someone who hasn’t experienced it is that my intellect and emotions are completely disconnected whilst my mood is in flux.  I KNOW that I have family that love me dearly, I KNOW that I’m living a good life, I KNOW that when this fades that I will be happier than most people ever get to be.  Despite all this intellectual knowledge, I FEEL like a mental weakling, I FEEL like I’m going to blink and have wasted my life, I FEEL as though, at best, my family and friends put up with me.  I FEEL like the best thing to do would be to pick up and leave to where no one knows me, again.

I’ve found that arguing with myself for an entire evening until I drop from exhaustion is quite a traumatic strategy to see through.  If any of you, my Bipolar brethren, have a better coping system I’d love to hear it.  My umbrella is not up to the task!

Gritting my teeth,

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