Someone asked me if it is really that bad when you crash. Yes, it is. You might have just started a new job; you might be in one for years. You might have started a new project; you might be looking forward to something good. Then. You crash. What does it feel like? Like nothing, but a nothing that hurts so deep that you just want to sleep. Why does it hurt? Because it’s not just the blues, its not something that will be ok if you just have something to eat. No, enticing me with a DVD, or that pancake that I love so much won’t make a difference. Questions that are asked when you crash to which I don’t have the answers. What happened? How should I know? Somewhere in my brain something did not do it’s job. Are you ok? No, apparently it seems that I am not. How long will this go on? Uhm. When you crash there is nothing that matters. You want to do nothing, you stare at the wall. Everything you love and like no longer matters. And you feel that you are worthless since you know that you cannot pay attention to the things that are so important to you. And you feel guilty because you know that the people around you don’t understand, that they get frustrated. What do you do when someone crash? That’s easy, you love them. You stay around them and let them know that it’s ok to crash, that you will still be there. That is all that you can do. So, to crash. If I could not crash I wont, but we have no choice.
You understand the mysteries of the universe. You are wide eyed like a child and everything is good and beautiful. You clean the house in the shortest time and when you are done you decide to do it again, just to make sure. And then you clean all the cleaning material. You may start a project and finish it so good that people ask you if you really did that. You want to buy everything even though you don’t have the money. You want to make love, the entire time. But somewhere in the havoc that is in your mind there is also fear. Fear because you know that the crash will come. For every manic episode there is a crash.
You decide in the shortest period to do the strangest things, you solve problems that other people just dream of doing, you write the most incredible work, you paint paintings that are passionate, full of life. People might comment on how “functional” you are. Everything makes sense and you think that this time this will last. You will have this energy forever. What do you do when someone is manic? You boost the good that comes from it and you protect them against the bad, like impulsive behaviour. But allow them enough freedom to enjoy the energy.
9h00. You do not want to get out of bed
9h30. You want to paint the house’s roof
11h00. You want to kill yourself
11h45. You start baking cakes.
13h00. You are depressed because the cakes are not perfect.
13h55. You decide that the cakes you baked are the best ever and start writing a cookbook.
16h00. You are physically tired from the cycling but you start to mow the lawn
17h00. You crash badly. Nothing makes sense.
17h30. You have cup of coffee nr 15 and the world makes sense.
18h00. You message everyone on Face Book on how perfect life is.
19h00. You message the same people and cancel the previous message.
22h00. You are drained. But you feel that you must start a book on the importance of wetlands.
1h00. You are so tired that you fall asleep
This can go on from a few hours to a few weeks. What does it feel like? It is utterly draining. You go from the one pole to the other in minutes, hours or days. The faster you cycle the more tired you get. This is very frustrating for people around you since they do not know what is going on. The one minute you are loving, the next you are not.
What do you do when someone is rapid cycling? There is not much that you can do apart from being supportive. And remember they are not “moody” they are battling a thing in their brains that takes them from the highest passion to the lowest depression in minutes. Over and over. Just be with them and support them
Psychosis differs for everyone. Not everyone that is bipolar experience psychosis. It is very unpleasant because whatever you experience is not real but it feels real. Your senses are alive, you feel everything in overdrive. Some people hear things, others see things. For me its sounds and colour. Sounds are amplified, especially sharp sounds. Colours are very bright and sunlight hurt my eyes. Your thoughts are bigger than your mind and sometimes everything accelerates or slows down. Some people have a feeling of being “detached”
What can you do? There is very little that helps for psychosis other than medication. If someone you love has psychosis the best you can do is to get them to their doctor or make sure that they take their meds. For me it’s a dark room and no noise. That seems to help. Remember that what the person is experiencing is very real for them, and often very scary. And no, when you have psychosis you are NOT insane. Your brain is just not doing its job. Just protect the person and once again LOVE them.
Of all the things of Bipolar this is probably the worst. It means that you experience mania and depression at the same time. It is almost impossible to medicate and very difficult to understand. How can a person feel good and bad at the same time? Well, you can. It causes great confusion since you cannot answer the question “how are you?”. You simply don’t know how you are. Being in a mixed state is also very tiring. You feel that you can do everything but at the same time you are so depressed. There is one “benefit” if you can call this horrible state a “benefit”. That is with practice you can almost balance the two poles out. That means you can use the energy but stabilize the mania with the depression. What do you do when someone is mixed? Once again you support them, remember that being mixed is very confusing and tiring for the person.
Suicide is a reality for someone with Bipolar. You might be so down that you just want to not feel that way anymore. You might be so manic that you do it impulsively; you might be psychotic and just do it. Never take a suicide threat lightly. Someone that threatens to commit suicide needs immediate and serious attention. They have to see a doctor or be admitted to hospital. In a lot of countries that is easier said than done. If it is not possible you must be with that person, you must take care of him or her. A lot of people say that suicide is a “cowardly” thing to do. That statement angers me since that person does not know about the pain, the suffering and the “I cannot do this anymore”
If you love someone with Bipolar that threatens to commit suicide take the threat serious. Remember that they just want to not feel the pain.
I would like to add this. Suicide is not the way out. I understand that you cannot, or do not want to go on. But remember there is always again that smell of a puppy, or that friend on Facebook, or the smell of coffee or most importantly you.
Biplars know more about medication than most doctors. We can give you a run down on medication like a pharmacist. There is Lithium and Lamotrigine, there is Remeron and Zyprexa, there is Seroquel, the list goes on.
Some medication we take to stabilize our moods, some we take to prevent psychosis, and some we take for depression. For some people medication is wonderful and it assists them to live a balanced life. For others it takes away the passion and the life. There are numerous side effects to medication. Lithium makes you gums bleed, Seroquel knocks you out. Some medication make men impotent, others make you sweat and feel “not there” Sometimes medication just keeps you going, other times if gives you the strength to carry on. Medication is something that should always be given under the supervision of a Psychiatrist. Medication does and can serve a very good purpose, but it does not and never will take the place of love and support.
In conclusion then. Bipolar disorder is not the “label” diagnosis that we see on television. We do not have multiple personalities, just a very complex one. We are not prone to criminal behaviour. We are not dark and moody creatures. We are people that suffer from a condition that makes us go from depressed to manic. That is all. We can function as good as any person. Most people that suffer from bipolar have an above average I.Q. They often excel in what they do. Famous people that were afflicted by bipolar include Van Gogh, Einstein, Woolf. A lot of artists, painters, dancers and writers suffer from bipolar.
Loving someone with bipolar may not be easy. But we live life on the poles of life. We live it with passion and we understand the meaning of human suffering.
We are the polar riders.
© Herman H Le Roux 2013
I found this on facebook from a page I follow.
Here’s my two cents:
While riding this roller coaster we call life, people start to get sad, or mad or dealing with emotions that we have no idea how to deal with. We go to the doctor, asking for help, looking for answers. Sometimes, we get answers that we don’t like: Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, or bipolar disorder (just to name a few.) We don’t always like what the doctors have to say. What we hate more, telling our loved ones. How do you tell the ones you love and care about that you are broken, disenchanted, not immortal? How do you tell them that you’re messed up, chemically dependent on the medications prescribed by the doctor you just met?
How do you do that? How do you find the strength inside you to break that ice, and tell those you love that you are bipolar?
It’s hard. It takes more strength and courage than you can imagine.
Life goes on, but you are broken. You are on a cycle that is hard to break, bouncing between crushing depression and exhilarating mania. You don’t know where you are going to be in the next minute, hour, day, or week. You bounce back and forth. You lose friends, family, people you love don’t understand, because they haven’t been there. They don’t understand that you can’t control everything.
You can’t stabilize yourself to have a decent relationship. You spend money you don’t have on things you don’t really need and you get in some financial trouble. You lose things, friends, family, relationships, yourself. How do you go on?
You try to cling to people, those who call themselves your support system. But they don’t understand that you want to die, that you want to end it all, that you want to just stop breathing because the pain you feel inside you is so real so painful, so crushing that you cannot stand. It can lead to suicide attempts, it can lead to hospitalization, it can lead to death.
You try to cling to people, but because of the mania, you’re on top of the world. You are productive, you are exhilarated, you are energized, you are invincible. You are a person, not broken, but whole, and everything in the world is beautiful and becoming, and so overwhelming that you don’t need to cling to those who ground you. Those who try to watch out for you and tell you to calm down, watch your spending, watch yourself. Guard your heart, close your legs, lock the door. You live by no rules and you go out, every night. You invite people into your home, your heart, and your body. You are sane, and glorious, and no one can touch you, no one can ground you. You are great.
Then comes the crash, and you weren’t expecting it. You crumble. Those on top of the world feelings no longer exist. You cut just to feel connected to the world. You burn your fingers on a hot stove or an iron, or even with a lighter just to know that you are human. That you exist. That this darkness that surrounds you isn’t all enveloping. You will overcome. But it doesn’t feel real. It feels as though the world has shut you down, knocked you out, closed you in the dark and locked the door. You will never escape.
Being bipolar seems like a death sentence. Life isn’t sane. Life is crazy, fast, slow, and dangerous. And you have to figure out how to stabilize without hurting those around you. But sometimes, that doesn’t always work.
You lash out at people because you are angry, you are scared, and you are tired. Tired of fighting. So it’s easier to mark people off than to deal with their glances, their worries, their fears for your safety. You scare people off with your promiscuity, your invincibility, your overabundance of joy and love and need for speed.
When you tell people that you are bipolar, people start looking at you differently. They think that you are crazy and scary, or they think that you are using it as a crutch.
Being bipolar isn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t mean that you are crazy, it means that you are imbalanced, chemically. Emotions are affected by this imbalance. People are scared, but there are people that are good for you.
There are families that will try to help you, and you just have to tell them to be patient with you while you try to figure things out. You have to tell them to be patient and not overbearing.
I hope that my family reads this. I am not crazy, I am not using this as a crutch. I’m imbalanced, but with my meds, I’m becoming balanced. It’s not easy living like this. I hope that you understand. I hope that this will enlighten you and make you realize that I am not living with a death sentence, I’m living with a disorder that I’m managing. And sometimes, I need help. Sometimes, I need you to listen to me as I tell you that I want to blow my brains out or that I want to slice my wrist. Sometimes, I need you to listen to me when I’m manic, to help me, to make me realize that I’m in trouble when I’m spending money that I don’t have. Even if that makes me mad, maybe, just maybe, bringing it to my attention will remind me that I’m not being me at the moment. I know that things scare you, especially when I start talking about suicide. But know that I will never leave you. If I start talking about it, listen, don’t judge, don’t get mad, be sad with me, and save me from myself. Keep me alive if I don’t feel like I can go on. Love me, because I need love and accept me as I am. Broken and manic.
Be beside me, love me and accept me, don’t judge me, don’t get mad, I just need help. And I hope that, while on this bipolar ride, you stick with me.
Posted on January 5, 2014, in Mental Health, Support and tagged acceptance, Anxiety, Bipolar, bipolar disorder, Depression, Love, mental illness, mental-health, Support. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.