Backpacking and Bipolar II. Taking Manic Depression on tour.
Much of the Wiki definition makes sense to me. It is, however, a very dry account of a condition primarily resulting in warped emotions. If I was asked to succinctly try and define what ails me I would say that in the absence of any prompt or cause the landscape of my emotional state is subject to huge tectonic shifts.
The change in these moods are extreme in both scope and rate of change.
For all of the life that I can remember I have endured a lot of negative and derisive internalised self-talk. Usually my brain effervesces with a tumultuous chorus detailing all the ways in which I am deficient. Periodically this fades and I am left feeling extremely confident, energetic and happy. For more than a year now I’ve been aware of two very distinct modes which I operate in. Before any thoughts of Bipolar took root I had begun to call these modes things like “up and down” or just that I was either “on form” or not.
This manifests in very stark and specific ways. Whilst not being on form I have left social functions early, incorrectly believing that I wasn’t as entertaining as I usually would be, or that I had no rhythm and couldn’t dance in time, for example.
Whilst ‘up’ I have entertained delusions of grandeur where I have believed myself to be far more intelligent and attractive than is actually the case. I have gone as far as to believe that I had actually grown physically taller and that my Deja Vu was actually an accurate premonition.
I alternated between believing that I was part of the wave of the next big thing, certain to succeed and make huge waves and then believing that all of my work was a waste of time. This incongruent behaviour eventually led to me dropping out of college altogether.
The job I entered into was an extremely competitive environment and my boss was an emotional sadist. I now believe that he knew far more about my mental health than I did. He manipulated and emotionally tortured me, playing on times of low self confidence by denigrating my efforts and marginalising me as an employee. For a few years I was convinced that it was only dumb luck that had meant I hadn’t been let go. The fifth year of my employment came around and I then sat number crunching. I had out-sold everyone in the company other than my manager. My boss STILL attempted to sideline my efforts. He knew what he was doing.
You need to understand that I never suspected anything medical in these proceedings. I come from an area where admitting to needing medication for mood moderation is anathema. “Grin and bear it” is a maxim where I grew up. When I began my treatment using Seroquel I told my brother, to which he responded:
“I thought you were smarter than that.”
To sum up. Bipolar in my case means that if you could lock me and a normal person in a hermetically sealed glass container each, so that there were no external stimuli to influence our moods; my mood would vary hugely whilst the normal person’s would understandably remain relatively well balanced.