Yes, yes, yes. You know it. I know it. It’s in the headline. This is going to be one of those texts. And yes, indeed it is. I thought it’s finally time again. Time to put on my deep-thinking hat. Shed off my worries and doubts in a lighthearted self-reflection. So – what’s it about?
Well, I am sick. It is something that I have been struggling with for quite a while now. Many moons ago, I have been diagnosed as bipolar. Bipolar 2 actually. And no – unfortunately that is not an unoriginal sequel to the well-known bipolar disorder. You know – the one that many only know as these “omg that is so relatable”, “o-m-g that is so me” and “gosh I am sooo moody too” type of Instagram posts.
Putting that aside, I have been thinking to write about this for quite a while. How it affects me and how it changed me. But before I can do that, I have to take out the unforgiving hammer of time and smack you back about a year or so. So, let’s get into this.
What is a bipolar disorder?
The bipolar disorder (aka manic-depressive illness or manic depression) is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and concentration. As such, it affects your ability to carry out day-to-day tasks or interact with other people. Generally speaking, there are three types of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar 1: Full-blown manic episodes that last at least 7 days, with depressive episodes lasting about 2 weeks.
Bipolar 2: Depressive and hypomanic episodes. However, hypomanic episodes are not full-blown as in type 1.
Cyclothymic Disorder: Hypomanic as well as depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years. However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.
Obviously please don’t take my word on this. Just look it up yourself if you want to find out more about that. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder
If you want to have an extensive list of symptoms, please go and check out the according page from the NHS. I am only going to list symptoms that I have felt myself:
- Incredible happiness, optimism
- Feeling overjoyed and full of energy
- Talking very quickly
- Feeling self-important, even arrogant at times
- Full of great new ideas, important plans, creative thoughts
- Easily distracted, but also easily irritated
- Not feeling like sleeping/ not being able to sleep
- Not eating
- Making decisions & saying things that are out of character or others see as risky and/or harmful
- Doing things that often have disastrous consequences (spending a lot of money…)
- Feeling sad, hopeless and irritable most of the time
- No energy & complete loss of interest
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering
- Feeling of emptiness and worthlessness
- Feeling of guilt despair
- Pessimistic & self-doubting
- Not eating
- Suicidal thoughts
Shuffling more than an iPod
The main idea of this disorder is that you are shuffling through moods. From one extreme to the other. You are either incredibly depressed or unbelievably happy. And no, unfortunately you don’t have a say in it.
Usually referred to as “episodes”, manic or depressive states can either cycle one after another rapidly, stay for a longer time or just mix up. To put it in an easy way: you might feel like the king of the world in the evening and the next morning all you want to do is die.
In my time of being aware that I have this disorder, I have not really noticed a regularity in between. Rather the opposite.
It feels like I am totally out of control. Two opposite sides tearing me from one side to another. And I don’t even notice. As if I am absent or something.
Living between narcissism and self-pity
So now that we are through all this academic stuff, I can finally dive into how I have been feeling and what has been wrong with me.
Like I said, I noticed something off about a year ago. Slowly but surely I started to feel that my mood would shift uncontrollably between just being depressed and overjoyed. Without any reason.
Sometimes, I would feel this incredible emptiness. Everything was alright, yet I felt like there was a huge black hole inside of me that nothing could fill. I had such aggressive, indescribable hate towards people. Anyone really.
Other days, I would be overfilled with joy. Full of creative ideas, new projects. That I would obviously never follow through on. The Tom that most of you probably know: talks too much, too fast and too loud. On the outside: typical Tom. On the inside: an on-going war.
Sometimes I feel at peace. Sometimes I feel at war with myself. I am living a life between narcissism and self-pity. Two total opposites confronting each other within me. The good and the bad.
With every day, I felt like I lost myself a little more. Who am I, what do I do and most importantly: why do I do these things? I lost control over myself. I lost my identity. That’s when I decided to change something and go to a psychiatrist for therapeutic help. After some time with him we quickly realized what I am facing every day.
A constant war with myself
Ever since getting my diagnosis I have been on a journey to reconnect with myself. Understand my disorder, my actions, my feelings. Spoiler: I still don’t.
I don’t know how to feel, and I don’t know what to do next. I feel like have completely lost the grip on who I am.
Almost every day, I have this trembling inside of me. Like every part of me is shaking. I just want to get up and start running. Tons of ideas shoot through my head – every second. Some nights I have thousands of voices screaming in my head. But who needs sleep anyway, right? Well not me! Because I can go through multiple nights with barely any sleep and not feel tired. I don’t run out of energy.
Other nights I am completely lost. I feel so upset; I just want to cry. But I can’t. I feel like an empty husk. No emotions, apart from a sense of worthlessness and pessimism. These episodes are even harder to push through. I don’t eat or cook. I don’t clean. All I want to do is lay and in bed and disappear. Whereas with my mania I have unlimited energy, I can’t even get out of bed when I am depressed.
What hurt me even more where people who just wouldn’t understand me. They would tell me that I overexaggerate. I am obsessing. And my personal bias would make me believe that I have this issue. That is also why it took me so long to write about this. Eventually what this did is help me spiral down even more.
Now I am sitting here on my bad. Completely detached from my personality and identity. I guess I am just a total mess at this point. And yeah, it’s true: I really don’t know what to do at this point or how to make it better.
But I think now it is more important than ever to give the middle finger to this disorder and not give up. Keep going. Keep pushing. Maybe one day I can cope with all this nonsense.
I am going to leave it at that, but I guess soon I am going to write a little bit about the medication I have to take and why I decided for myself to stop taking it. So I guess you can stay tuned for that.
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