…you can’t reason with someone who is manic.
I mean, you can sit there with them and try to rationalize everything, but they don’t know they’re being irrational. They’re sick and have absolutely NO idea they are; in fact, they’ll deny it to the death and become highly offended that you’ve even dared to suggest it. Now I know why everyone in my life fears my becoming that way again, and it makes me more determined to stay on my meds and play well with others.
Being around people in this condition is triggering, and tiring. I have to fight my own demons even as I watch the manic person go ape shit. The whirlwind of activity, the loud and pressured speech, the frenetic bouncing from one project to another…I recognize all of it because I’ve been there. It’s hard to admit that I’m capable of the same kind of mayhem, and worse. No wonder I feel such a kinship with the person who is zipping madly around the world like a Tasmanian devil, even as I wish they’d take some meds and settle down. It’s not so bad, being bipolar; what’s bad is refusing to acknowledge that the disease exists. But how do you do that when you don’t see the havoc it’s wreaking on your life?
I remember how tough it was for me. My internist was the first one to bring up the fact that I had a mental health condition that was more serious than he could handle; I was PISSED and had no problem telling him so. I wasn’t crazy, I said, I just had mood swings…didn’t everybody? It took my first psychiatrist, Dr. Awesomesauce, all of 90 minutes to diagnose me.
But you know, it’s STILL tough. I go through long periods of stability now, and I get to thinking that maybe the label is wrong, or maybe it’s not as severe as my providers have made it out to be. You’d think after being diagnosed four times with bipolar 1 that I’d get it through my thick skull, but there’s this stubborn little voice that says “No, it’s not that bad, look at how well you’re doing now”. It doesn’t recognize that I’m only doing well because my stress level is relatively low, and because I take a lot of meds that make it seem like the illness has gone away and I’ll never have to deal with it again.
Bipolar is crafty like that. The bitch lures you into thinking everything is just hunky-dory (or horrible, depending on the prevailing mood) and you don’t have the foggiest idea that it’s lying to you. You don’t know, and don’t care, that you’re building a house of cards and the whole thing is going to collapse on you at any moment. All you know (in the case of mania) is that your feelings are stronger than they’ve ever been, and you are certain they’re going to go on forever and ever. You make expansive plans because you are always going to have this level of energy and the sky is the limit! You flit from project to project, starting one or several enthusiastically, only to abandon them for something else within days or hours. You race through your days with your hair on fire, thoughts swirling wildly through your mind like leaves on the wind. And then one day, it’s over: your high times come to a screeching halt, there’s all sorts of stuff left undone, your life is scattered in pieces all over the place, and you’re left wondering just what the fuck happened.
It’s 9 PM, time to take my meds. All of them. Because there but for the grace of God—and that handful of pills—go I.