Before I begin this, I want to establish a disclaimer: all of this information is private, yet also is necessary to be told. This is my decision to self-disclose all of this, and I trust that the people who read it will find it somewhere in their hearts to sympathize with my crisis, my situation, which has been a battle with mental illness for years. No way will I tolerate anyone judging or exploiting anything that I write here. Yes, I am sharing it, and I do not really care what anyone thinks. But at the same time, I would like to maintain a level of privacy in some way — knowing that the “audience” — if that even exists — of this post will be adults about this. Please, please, please be an adult and respect me. Respect my situation. Do not gossip about it and do not hound me about it. Do not tell misconstrue anything so that it’s held against me or it winds me up into trouble with my job or my personal life. This is my personal life — and I may be stupid or foolish to publicize it here — but it’s not my style to exist restlessly in silence. I own my rights to my very own catharsis.
The image above is not me, but it’s someone I strangely feel close to. To include some Carrie Mathison into the equation of this post, here in my blog, felt very appropriate & relevant — because watching this television show “Homeland” is like looking into a mirror at times, so yeah, the character on the show is both beloved and upsetting for me to watch at times. I don’t claim to like “live vicariously” through her — it’s just that her “episodes” displayed on the show came SO close to home that it was uncomfortable. I remember episodes from season one that freaked me out so badly that I had to pause them and recollect myself before I continued watching them — the depiction of Carrie’s bipolar disorder was so identical to some of my idiosyncratic episodic behaviors that I was like “really? really??” But, I digress, “Homeland” as a complex show itself, is progressing toward its second season finale that is very much explosively exciting.
I, on the other hand, have not been too well. I’ll just spit it out — since there’s no one out there except the crickets: the truth is, is that I struggle, alone, in the dark, with bipolar (I) disorder. Previously it was misdiagnosed as general (clinical) depression or maybe ADD — blah blah blah I dunno — the psychobabble begins to get very frustrating sometimes. I do not walk around with “bipolar boy” stamped on my forehead because then it becomes a label, and then it becomes something I don’t understand in regard to others perceptions. To me, it’s an intense mental illness that I have to live with for the rest of my life. Something like that is too fucking heavy for the simplicity of a diagnostic label, title, whatever. But, it is what it is. And according to many professionals, friends, family, and myself — I certainly struggle with this specific conflict of bipolar disorder.
I’ve been officially diagnosed with it for a year now by several different doctors. But, then again, I didn’t even need an official clinical diagnosis to determine what was going on. My impulsiveness began to spin out of control in May 2012 — for example, when I impulsively bought the very first loft/apartment that I looked at. I didn’t look anywhere else but here. Budget didn’t concern me, important factors such as neighborhood/reputation etc didn’t concern me, I just signed the papers on the spot after taking a fucking GLANCE at this property. It was one of the most insane things I had ever done because I couldn’t believe… I had done that. Thankfully — I am pleased and happy with my residence — but what a fucking gamble to take. I never forgot that, really. That factor was kind of “tucked away” to my own acknowledgement — no one else knew how impulsive and manic I was being for pretty much the entire month. Then came a huge crash, of course.
At the time it made sense, but looking back I can easily construe a pattern that began to unfold throughout the following months: 2 weeks of highly functional behavior, 2 weeks of self-medicated, hazy, aggressive, unpleasant behavior that left me restless, agitated, and my mind was an unforgivable territory of racing thoughts that I cannot even begin to articulate. Just madness.
My mood does not switch “on and off” like a light-switch, necessarily. That’s kind of a cliche of bipolar disorder. I consider mine to be much more hardcore. Essentially, this mood disorder began to effect my life so negatively that I was pretty certain that I was going to lose my job, lose my apartment, lose my financial stability, lose my friends, lose my respect from others, etc. Episodes became nightly and increased in severity, more specially “mixed-episodes” that are terrifying periods where I cannot distinguish my mood or mental processes at all — whatsoever. I haven’t had these occur in about two years.
The episodes proceeded to occur for about 12 days in a row, non-stop, relentless, unforgiving, horrific at times. One of the worst mixed-episodes occurred when I was at work. This made me panic like I had never panicked in my life — ugh, it was just incredibly unpleasant. My job is very cerebral, task-driven, fast-paced, focused-oriented — it’s all gauged strictly by performance. Performance at my job kind of grinded to a halt and I didn’t have a clue what to fucking do. I would just shake, sweat, and do everything I could to not burst out in tears. My mind felt like it was driving 140 miles per hour on the Autobahn or something. Even worse, actually. My thoughts becomes so unclear that they just… disappear, fade away. And then I forget what I’m doing or what I’m supposed to be doing. There’s aspects of the episodes I cannot even possibly articulate. It’s horrific to undergo such internal madness while trying to maintain an outside composure — and also try to gain some control over the episode. What’s scary though — is that I don’t have control. The evilness of this disease takes over and I lose the ability to function in a work setting, social setting, anything. That’s what fucks everything up and I have to be honest and say “I need help, this is unbearable, this is insufferable.”
Man oh man, did I get help! I sure got some fucking help. At a goddamn mental institution, a psychiatric facility located in the suburbs of Kansas City. There I felt “quarantined” in a unit that left me little to no privileges whatsoever. I spent days with no shoes, no belongings, not even chapstick. All I had were my eyeglasses that I didn’t even fucking need because there wasn’t anything to READ! The other patients were the dregs of society — and not comforting to say the least. My first night there, which was a Tuesday evening, my day off that I decided to admit myself to this facility — was the worst that had ever occurred. I had to be sedated by a very potent medication that knocked me out, which was terrifying, not pleasant.
Several days occurred there with medication, group therapy, and meetings with incompetent psychiatrists that I developed a lot of animosity with. They were awful doctors. They were actually quite judgmental and inappropriate! And if I called them out on it — well who’s to say that my word has any meaning? They, after all, are the fucking doctors. I am the crazy one. I’m the crazy bipolar boy with “borderline characteristics” and so on. The worst part was though was that the doctors called the shots with everything. Everything. My discharge date, my medical records, everything. I was supposed to stay much longer than anticipated — for some reason they released me early. Maybe I should’ve stayed the whole time, I dunno.
When I left, I stayed with my parents. Oddly, this wasn’t as “tranquil” as I had expected it to be. There was a lot of tension with my parents because I felt like I was supposed to be behaving in a certain specific way because I had gone to inpatient treatment. Their perception was I was evaluated by doctors, heavily medicated, and then appropriately discharged into the world. Except the world has been more daunting than anyone can understand, especially my parents.
It was a part of my discharge agreement that I stayed with my parents under their surveillance; loving and encouraging as it was, it’s pretty difficult for them to understand this on an emotional level. They don’t really comprehend “terminology” like “mixed-episode” or “mania” or “manic-depressive” etc because it’s probably really sad and emotionally taxing for them to confront.
It’s a very confrontational disorder, I’ll give it that. Mood is everything, really. I’ve learned that. You can be in a ready-to-go productive mood, a lounge lizard couch potato mood where you’re just passive and whatever, or you can be in an aggressive mood where everything is irritating you and your behavior manifests in bad ways — like if you “snap” at someone at work or whatever. I deal with that every day at my job and it’s so difficult. It’s very out of character — that’s a good way to put it. I’m not a mean, aggressive guy whatsoever — I’m quite mild-mannered and nonpartisan for the most part. I don’t seek animosity nor do I find myself to be the aggressor in arguments and stuff.
The manic episodes make so much sense to me now. Once, when I was a junior in college, I enrolled in a creative writing class. It was September, early in the semester, and the fall — for whatever reason — triggers extreme manic episodes. I had an assignment to write a “short fiction story” that was meant to be about 3-5 pages long — concise, to the point — what a typical short story is for a general writing class. Well, I misconstrued that direction. I did not ask my professor if it was okay for me to “branch out” on the project or to expand my ideas, or whatever. I ended up staying awake for 48 hours and wrote a “novella” that was about 48 pages in length — with only 1/2 inch double spaced. The story wasn’t too bad or badly written — it was a bit strange I think… it was about a woman living in New York dealing with a sex addiction or something, but essentially it ended up being very, very, very lengthy. The detail was good, but it was also extremely scattered in some parts and incoherent. To say that I would “digress” is an understatement. Along with this, I took on the load of 18 credit hours including a Religion class I would write 12-page papers for that would be endless, insensible rambling that somehow made sense to me at the time. During this period I would enjoy it so much that I didn’t notice I would become extremely agitated, irritable, downright mean. I wouldn’t brush my teeth (which is very unlike me) shower our even eat. I would drink water, that’s about it. But the way I’d be come so fucking wired was beyond my understanding. I was not on any kind of drug at the time — that’s important to establish. I was just so fucking manic that nothing else was important to me except these assignments. Energy seemed to flow into me and I was constantly restless; unforgivably restless. Obviously when you begin to get sleep deprived and stuff you begin to get really strung out. My professors thought it was strange of course, and my writing teacher said it was “overwrought” and she couldn’t even get through reading it. She credited me for my enthusiastic participation — but looking back — why didn’t she notice something was really odd about that? I turned in a fucking short novel to her? How did I find the time to do that? This sort of thing went on, and on, and on.
Then, I’d have a second term in the semester after all of this manic behavior and suddenly I felt totally dead. Seriously, just to be flippant, I would feel my wrist for my pulse just to make sure that I was alive. At least 45-60% of my college experience was me — lying flat on my bed — just staring blankly at the ceiling, totally motionless. I had to drag my ass to class where I would nod off or just lay my head down the entire lecture — not taking any notes or anything. Then, I would fuck up the exams, I would fuck up the homework, and I would wallow in excuses — but really I couldn’t explain it. The depression was relentless. I was so upset with myself because I’d be so, so incredibly productive and totally on top of my game — and then I would kind of… collapse. Cycles, I guess… cycles that I didn’t understand. I thought I was just a typical depressed college student dealing with moodiness in the winter weather — waking up early — going to bed too late — my mind racing, racing, racing! God, my mind would race constantly that I couldn’t even focus on what to eat for lunch. I would have to like switch to that “channel” in my brain to make a very simple decision.
The mixed episodes began roughly in early 2010. I remember it was an arctic, frigid February morning and I had moved back into my parents’ house. My parents had left for work and the house was empty. I had to be at a M/W/F class at 10:00am — but I couldn’t do it, there was not a chance in hell that I was capable of making it to the class. I remember just writhing in bed — repulsively churning in my own skin — my body felt like it was being clenched together by hot-iron metal slabs on each side. My mind felt disturbed and completely chaotic.
I’m honestly not much of a “Crier” which sounds totally weird for me being such a neurotic person. But these episodes take me to such a heightened emotional state that tears just flow from my eyes like little rivulets riveting down my cheeks — the kind of deep, guttural crying that makes you almost hyperventilate because it’s so, so physical. Physical crying — a really “weird” kind of crying that I hadn’t experienced before. I remember trying to breathe deeply, slowly, calmly, and it would just burst out into deep exhalations that were not relieving at all. Since I felt no relief, it spun the episode into this terrifying descent where my mind is saying “Calm down, get a grip, you’re fine, you’re not in danger” and then there’s an undercurrent of this harrowing, dark depression that makes me feel dead on the inside — yet I’m expressing this intense, complex emotional state — it’s both worlds simultaneously colliding and exploding. Mixed episodes are extremely physical. I tremble really badly as if I’m having a “panic attack’ yet it’s not really a full-blown panic attack, but my heart races and I feel an urgency to release this built-up, pent-up, indescribable manic energy that makes me feel like ripping my hair out — but I always end up crawling around on the floor like a pathetic dog or something. I try to focus my mind on getting dressed — so I’ll go into my closet and just FRANTICALLY flip through all of my clothes and try to find my shoes. My mind works overtime to just coordinate the outfit or whatever — even though I know I can’t drive a car or go anywhere.
The restless energy is not a good kind of energy. It’s a state that drives me crazy because it’s energy that’s just — there — and causes immense psychic pain. It manifests physically with the trembling, sweating, crying, etc. Basically I just melt down into a puddle of myself. A pathetic, frantic, frenetic puddle of myself.
These episodes are definitely what sent me to the psychiatric unit. These episodes are why I’m cautious of returning to a difficult, mentally-driven job. These episodes are “activated” throughout various times in the day.
Along with other medications, I am now taking Geodon — which is supposedly like the “Cadillac” of anti-psychotic/mood stabilizing medications. It’s been really helpful so far with the episodes, but there is still shit that “creeps up” on me and makes me feel really uncomfortable. The medication is very potent and makes me sleep hardcore.
I don’t know if sharing all of this is going to be a downer for someone, but I really hope it won’t be. It’s just helpful for me to express what I can here. There’s a history to all of this — and at the age of 23 I think this mood disorder has come to a peak — a really frightening peak of course. I have the support of people who love me — and people who TRY to understand, and that’s all that matters to me.