To think it is 20 years since I was referred to a professional to assist me with what was going on in my head. I had been at the time, for a number of years experiencing great changes in my mood, being over happy and full of life one moment and then extremely depressed the next, and cycling between these two often in less than a day.
I thought it was all part of becoming a real adult, growing up, stresses of life and that fun stuff. Also by that time I had been self harming myself for around 10 years, not long after I started secondary school. I would often become very frustrated with myself when I was younger and punch myself in the face, usually my eyes. I played a few rough sports at school, so it was easy to pass off a finely coloured shiner as coming from a game of football or some primitive schoolboy game during lunch. There were the occasions, and not all that rare when I would cut my arms.
Both of those forms of self abuse ended a long time ago, that being said I do at times have the urge to do one or the other, all those years ago I made two promises, one to a good friend at the time, an amazing Norwegian woman who was living in the UK with her family and studying in the USA. While I am not really in contact with her anymore, I have followed her career over the years, she is senior vice president of her fathers ocean and river cruise company and an accomplished author. How would she know if I’d broken my promise to her that I would not hit myself? It doesn’t matter, if I did, I would know and that is enough to prevent me from doing it. The other promise, regarding not cutting myself, I made to myself. I felt if I was strong enough to be able to cease one form of abuse with a promise to someone else, I could do the second for myself. Strangely enough, through this self promise I have a strong like for clothing with long sleeves, I had used them in the past to hide the fresh scars on my arms, no long sleeves equalled no more hiding.
Apart from the changes in mood for no apparent reason, there are other factors surrounding bipolar that present challenges in life. Try telling someone who does not understand the disorder that you are bipolar and you may as well say good bye to them there and then. Personal experience tells me that the average person equates being bipolar with being some sort of psychopath, for me at least I don’t believe I am. Add that to getting to know someone better, a girlfriend, someone you may consider spending much time with, either short term while dating, or long term in a relationship and well, what do you do? Do you tell them up front, do you get to know them better first and then once you have a better idea of how to approach the subject with them then do so or do you just not tell them. I still haven’t worked this one out over the past 20 years, don’t think I ever well.
Let us not forget hypersexuality, it can be a wonderful thing if you are in a relationship and your partner loves sex as much as you do. Try being single though and it tends to get to a point, for me anyway, where I have to lock myself away and be very careful what I say to people and who I say it to. Most of my close friends are women, always have been, one of the handful of close friends know I am bipolar, I am sure that two others suspect that I am and the others couple accept me for me, and always have. They are all beautiful women, even though it times they may not agree. I am also very attracted to them all. All except for one are either married or in committed relationships. When there is someone that knows more about you than you do yourself, they tend to become the targets at the peak of the manic cycle. Not a good thing. The mornings I have woken up and wondered what I have said to these friends the day previous, and on discovery wondered why they don’t hate me, I have lost count. If I am aware I will always apologise, they all handle it differently, fortunately for me, they have all remained close friends, and for that I am truly thankful.
Even with raised awareness over the past 5 or 10 years mental illness is still very much a taboo subject with many people. There are also a lot of people who do some day or two log course through their employment and think they know it all and can cure you. I am uncertain as to which category of ignorance is worse but I do know that both are bad and neither helps those of us who suffer deal with what we go through.
But wait, yes, there is more!
Pain has the better of me for now, I’ll continue another day (or night as the case seems to be).