The most frustrating part of being manic was the fact that, subconsciously, I was always aware that the only person who could truly help me… the only person with all the tools, resources, or knowledge to determine what exactly was happening to me was not mentally present. So I began to ask for help. Just not in so many words that anyone could understand. It was kind of a fascinating phenomenon actually. Since my manic persona certainly didn’t allow for me to directly say what the problem was, I resorted to speaking in a strange code, for lack of a better word. In one of my past posts, I said that my depressed self is like Dr. Jekyll, whereas my manic self is more along the lines of Mr. Hyde. I wish I could take full credit for that comparison, but I actually came up with that saying during my latest manic episode. There are quite a few events during that time period that I don’t recollect fully; however, my cries for help I remember in excruciating detail.
So I spoke in coded phrases, seemingly in an effort to sneak cries for help past my larger than life “happy” manic persona. In dropping these metaphorical breadcrumbs, I truly felt like I was begging… screaming even for help. Looking back, my cries for help were really obscure and, of course, with my current knowledge that I have Bipolar Disorder, they make perfect sense. When I was actually speaking in code; however, those who were especially close to me might have noticed something slightly off about my behavior and just didn’t know how to broach the subject. Now ordinarily I fully understand that other people aren’t mind readers. The closest other people can come to reading my mind comes from my absolute lack of a poke face but it would never be completely fair to hold other people responsible for knowing what’s going on in my head. At this point though, I was desperate. Desperate for companionship. Desperate for understanding. Desperate for being saved from myself. I was waiting for Superman.
In my seemingly endless wait for a savior, I would utter what I believed at the time to be clear cries for help. To put this into perspective, in this moment in time, I am not in full control of my actions but I’m only semi-aware of that. Or maybe I’m fully aware but only part of me wants to regain control without having any idea of how to do that. In my head, I’m screaming for help but no one can seem to hear me. In the past I’ve compared being in a manic episode to being in “the sunken place” from the movie, Get Out. With that being said, there was a scene in the movie where the female housekeeper is smiling but her eyes are clearly terrified and crying. That is the very closest approximation to the feeling of being manic that I can come up with. Not being in control of yourself and being utterly terrified even if you look happy.
Perhaps the oddest thing about me receiving my diagnosis was how much sense everything made after learning that I had Bipolar Disorder. At this point, I would assume most of you have seen The Sixth Sense, or at least I would assume someone has spoiled the ending for you. I would absolutely hate to spoil the ending, on the off-chance that you haven’t seen it, so all I will say is that as most M. Night Shyamalan movies, once the twist is revealed, you’re able to think about previous scenes in the movie from a completely different perspective. So right now I will share some of my cries for help or thought processes from my latest hypomanic episode and, with the understanding that I do have Bipolar Disorder, they should make perfect sense in that context; however, try to imagine for this moment that I’m your friend, sister, daughter, or wife and I just started saying these things out of the blue and you have no idea of my condition. If you’re able to imagine that, maybe you’ll be able to feel some fraction of the concern I’m sure my loved ones were feeling for me.
10. I wanted to get 7 tattoos. — At this point in time, I had no tattoos and had been putting off getting my first one for at least 6 years so planning seven seemed like a bit of a jump. I did want to get the chemical structures for Serotonin and Dopamine tattooed on my wrists, which I ended up getting. But I also wanted to get the quote “Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?” tattooed on my lower back. I honestly don’t know if I remember the other four tattoos I had planned but I know one of them was the Gemini symbol which is my zodiac sign. I would spend hours at work sketching these ideas and I would draw them on myself everyday because I was absolutely consumed with the idea of getting all seven.
9. When questioned about one of my tattoo ideas, the Gemini, I tended to get incredibly defensive. I remember my husband asking me about it because, having known me for over ten years, he is well aware that I don’t care about my zodiac sign. My response was that I didn’t care about the zodiac but I did think that Gemini perfectly fit me because there are “two distinct sides to my personality.”
8. For a short while I became consumed with the idea of starting a full-blown jewelry making business. I did spend a decent amount of money on the supplies for it (which are still very much in the shopping bag I bought them in). Worst of all, I even contemplated full-time job to concentrate all my effort on this jewelry making business and travel from comic-con to comic-con to sell my product. Now obviously, some people do make leaps of faith in entrepreneurial efforts similar to this; however, anyone who knows me should also know that quitting my job suddenly to pursue a career with no security is not consistent with my cautious and overly anxious personality.
7. “___________ doesn’t understand me.” Name a person in my life who cares about me: my husband, my mom, my brother, my best friend. I probably uttered this phrase about them. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone and hopeless in my entire life. Not to jinx myself but I might even prefer my depressive episode to those feelings.
6. “I don’t want to scare you off.” There were a few people I started talking to and confiding in during my episode and I tended to lead conversations off like that. I was convinced that I was monstrous and no one could handle what I brought to the table mentally. It was confusing and even frustrating at certain times that I would say this phrase and people wouldn’t take it seriously.
5. “I feel so alone. I cry myself to sleep every night.” I remember saying this to one of my friends and the reaction was that this was totally normal. In retrospect, he probably had no idea what to do with this information or how to help me. Furthermore, he probably thought that this was an exaggeration and that I couldn’t possibly be doing this every month. In a way it was an exaggeration because some nights I wasn’t sleeping at all and I certainly wasn’t crying every night… but it felt like I was.
4. “I think I need to be medicated but 95% of the time I way up high and 5% of the time I’m lower than low. I don’t want to give up the highs just to get rid of the lows.” — Really if you think about this statement, I fully believed at this time that I was suffering from Major Depressive Disorder but everything that I was saying was more consistent with Bipolar Disorder. I somehow doubt being dragged down by antidepressants is a major concern for most people with unipolar depression.
3. “I feel like I’m Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” — Yet again, I tried to convey that there were two distinct sides to my personality. But who would really know how to feel about that information? I’ve always been a little quirky and unique so maybe I was just saying something off the wall and didn’t mean anything by it. Almost like the boy who cried wolf… but I’m the girl who cried weird.
2. “I feel like my entire life is the tale of Sisyphus.” — Sisyphus was a character in Greek mythology who was punished for his deceitfulness by having to push a boulder up a hill for all of eternity. The kicker is that everytime he gets to the top of the hill, the boulder hits him and he has to watch it roll back down to the bottom before going back down himself to start the process over. I don’t fully know what I was trying to convey with this one because I continuously said it as a joke but I’m sure I was trying to let someone know I felt helpless and stuck. It certainly didn’t help that I had to explain to most people who Sisyphus was, all the while I was definitively crying on the inside.
1. “I think there’s something seriously wrong with me.” — That must have been my catch phrase. I felt like when I said that, the proper response would be “Yes there is and here’s what you need to do to turn things around.” but instead I got “You’re fine.” “You’re just going through the same thing everyone else does.” “You’ll be ok.” Such well-intentioned and comforting words and yet all I wanted was for someone to validate that feeling that I needed to seek help. Again, no one can read my thoughts but the amount of loneliness and frustration I felt from never receiving the responses I wanted AND not really knowing what responses I was looking for was overwhelming.
When I finally broke down and flat out admitted I needed help, I felt like the flood gates were opened and all my demons were flooding out. In general, it seemed like an impossible quest to build myself up at that point since all of my repressed negative feelings were all of a sudden very much at the surface. The thought that carried me through most of my recovery was that, again in Greek Mythology, once Pandora’s box was opened and all the demons and basically every bad thing in the world rushed out, there was one thing left over which was… the four letter word that is hands down the most helpful during recovery.