John Oliver Responds to the Topic of Mental Health

If you haven’t seen it yet, why not start your week by checking out John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight responding to political candidates using the topic of mental health to divert attention from gun control questions?

You can check it out here or find it on youtube.

I always appreciate a logical explanation, especially one that uses actual facts from studies coupled with humor to help make a touchy topic approachable. It isn’t often I consider this to be a topic broached without making my head spin, so thanks John Oliver!


The Bi[polar] Curious Blog Celebrates Turning 4!

Today is the four year anniversary of my first post here on the bi[polar] curious blog, hooray!

I know I haven’t been great at maintaining a constant stream of posts, but given all the weird and wild things I’ve had to deal with in this timeframe I am going instead focus on the fact that this blog is still alive.

What did I hope to accomplish by starting this blog? Well, I wanted to have a place where I could be honest. I wanted to be able to share what it is like living with mood swings and anxiety and the constant work involved in searching for help, support, and knowledge.

For a long time I had this nagging feeling that nobody knew much about me (you know, based on people telling me, “man, I really just don’t get you!”) but anxiety made it very difficult to present anything other than what was already out there. A general veil of “everything’s fine!” even when things clearly weren’t. I guess I did hope to some degree that writing here would allow me to collect my thoughts and present them in a way my friends and family could understand, increasing the potential for better relationships. Emmmm, it still needs a little work but overall I would consider this goal to be a success in progress.

What I didn’t expect were all of the readers that have come back time and again, the kind comments of support, and a small sense of accomplishment in finding that something I did might have helped someone understand something better, whether that was about themselves or someone else or a group of people as a community.

To be completely honest, I have been experiencing an intense spike of anxiety the last week or two and this anniversary was not even on my radar. In that regard, I feel like I ought to give a quick shout-out to too for sending me a reminder. I will always be grateful for anything that gets me to smile first thing in the morning!

At any rate, thank you readers for passing some time with me, thank you bloggers for writing interesting and sometimes provocative things that inspire me to consider the world around me, and thank you supporters for your generosity of spirit. Trust me, it doesn’t go unnoticed!

As Always,


Keeping The Relationship “Topped Off”


Having a relationship is a lot of work, and having a relationship that includes mental illness can be wildly tricky.

To start, I like to think of humans as being like a pitcher, or cup, or carafe… as units we are capable of pouring our affection and attention onto others, and we are also capable of storing those good feelings, they generally help power our lives.

Top me off!

As with any relationship, we take turns comforting each other or filling each other with love and good feelings when the other is running low. Being a team can be very helpful that way!

My turn!

In a healthy relationship (even one that might involve mental illness) this support system is a two way street. Needless to say, it can be very difficult to be supportive and attentive when your partner has run out of juice when you are distracted.

Still Empty...

For me, having an emotional disorder can mean feeling a constant need for love and affection, and the feeling is so profound there are times when those intense feelings distract me and I can’t see that my partner is running completely dry. This is where things become unhealthy, because he is a great guy and more than worthy of an equal share of the love and support in the relationship!


Ultimately I consider myself very lucky that my partner is very patient and supportive, but as someone who can become distracted and potentially forget to be as loving and affectionate as he deserves it is extremely important to me to try to maintain a sense of balance in our relationship. Anyone with bipolar disorder knows that balance is like a beautiful mythical creature we’re constantly chasing, and I am definitely not perfect but I do my best.

Some of the things that have helped in this endeavor include:

  • using support systems like therapy, group therapy, and friends to help express some of my more negative emotions so my partner receives a better balance of positive & negative emotions from me
  • taking on more chores when I am feeling more capable to take some of the load off from when I may have been depressed
  • encouraging (or simply being understanding) of my partner spending time with other people away from me so he has a chance to help refill his pitcher with support from friends, family, or therapy
  • expressing my affection in whatever way I feel capable of at the time, whether that is vocally, through a small gift or a treat or a favorite meal, or something as simple as a foot rub
  • remembering that times where I am not receiving as much support or affection are not typically coming from a place of punishment or vengeance but simply of the cup running dry!

Is That What Color it is Supposed to Be?!?

Fall has landed. Cool crisp air here with clear skies, crunchy leaves on the sidewalk, and… oh, yes. Hypomania.

Something about fall makes me feel excitement, energetic, and purposeful.  Only, you know. Times 10.

I have pondered why this happens, and I can’t rule out the weather. The temperature finally reaches a level where I feel comfortable here in Seattle, but more than that I also wonder the message that fall brings.

Winter is coming!

We don’t get much snow here in the emerald city but it can go for months at a time without a dry day. My instinct is always to hunker down in constant pajamas, gnawing on a pot roast watching my favorite movies on a loop… and fall is the last opportunity I have to get out. To get things done. A last jolt of energy before the power plant inside me shuts off for the winter.

Naturally this means I am creating lists of lists and doing far too much.

I know the danger that hypomania precedes but it is almost a relief to have it, even if just for a little while. I am monitoring my sleep carefully to avoid this energy lifting me off the ground like a hot air balloon swiftly into full-blown mania.

I haven’t had much hypomania the last year or so, only tiny blips of it. A few hours, maybe, at a time. Needless to say, the subsequent resulting mood has been depression, so when I started lunch yesterday and looked down to notice I hadn’t swept my kitchen floor since moving in over a year earlier, I dropped what I was doing to sweep it…

…only to realize the floor looked a little dirty under the crumbs and dog hair. Obviously I hadn’t mopped it in over a year either, and judging by the rest of the place it is debatable that it had been mopped before moving in either.

So I mopped. I mopped, and continued to mop until the floor became a color I had not encountered.

Wait, is that what color it is supposed to be?!?

At any rate, any amount of motivation is a welcome change. “Crazy Girlfriend” made a guest appearance about a week ago and I can tell you that the results were not good. Any singing or dancing I can do now on my own behalf is very seriously needed, and having the energy and motivation to complete even a few simple (much needed) tasks can hopefully help me balance out the months of inactivity.

O is for Overwhelmed

In my mood tracking book the notation ov stands for feeling overwhelmed. I haven’t written because notation has been gaining momentum in my life for two weeks now, and there is something about feeling overwhelmed that particularly cripples me.

In my experience, ov tends to show up in a period where I am quickly shifting from hypomania to depression, though it isn’t too high and mighty to show up in a mixed state or the deepest reaches of a long, suicidal depression. The only reason I can really couple the feeling of being overwhelmed with the hypomanic->depressive fluctuation is because I am generally moving from a period where I have  been overexerting myself (making plans, starting projects) and the energy and motivation I had been experiencing from the hypomania has quickly been pulled out from under me.

Suddenly finding myself without the drive or energy to finish the half dozen projects I’ve started or continue showing up to the week’s worth of commitments I’ve made can make some serious problems, especially when the commitments involve promises to family and friends or the projects are work-related or deadline specific.

Initially, in hypomania, I feel over-capable… so my list of projects and commitments seem miniscule compared to my drive to complete them.

In depression, however, I am flooded by this long list of things to do, a long list of obligations when all I can think about is how much I want to be sleeping and how completely ridiculous it seems to attempt to finish these things now my trajectory has become broken.

Feeling overwhelmed is only one part of it. I often also feel a lot of guilt for potentially scrambling (and failing) to complete these things or for cancelling plans with others. Trying to explain to people that the “car” I’ve been speeding in has suddenly stopped and thrust itself into reverse is… confusing, at best.

Often I try to continue on like nothing has happened, and this is seemingly the worst thing I can do. My defunct abilities are wildly noticeable to the people around me (even if I think they’re not) and becoming overwhelmed and trying to continue having social engagements has led to blow ups, resentment (on my end) and generally wanting to dig a hole to curl up in so I can be alone. When I feel too overwhelmed to be around people in a healthy way, it is obvious. I become distant and curt and have even ended relationships and friendships when people have felt the need to try to comfort me by getting closer. Anyone or anything that adds to my feelings of being smothered are often eradicated from the situation. Period.

The continuation of activities after hypomania also tends to flood me after suddenly dropping into depression and I am overstimulated by even the smallest things. Last night I told Corey it felt like I was an egg, and the noise, the light, and the energy of the world around me were trying to pierce my skin and eyes and ears like a million little microscopic sperm. It left me waving my arms around me, like light and sound were bugs I could scare off. All my mind seemed capable of was tripping the “escape! escape!” alarm as my chest tightened up and I couldn’t breathe.

In these periods, living in the city is extremely challenging. Our technological way of life is extremely challenging. Not running for the mountains is… extremely challenging.

Things that potentially help? For me, the big one is nature. I haven’t been able to experience much of that lately due to the location of our apartment and the surgeries I have had this year, but I find that being in a quiet place in nature is one of the only things that helps me combat the feeling of external stimuli becoming physical.

Sometimes the best I can find is a dark quiet room, and (like last night) inquiring minds around me want to know why I am sitting in a dark quiet room.

My therapist told me I might need to tell the people close to me that I need extra space sometimes, and that there is nothing wrong with asking people for a little extra space.

In all of this, that is my greatest challenge… when the weight of all things are pressing down on me it can be hard to remember what words to use or even that words exist at all. In the end, I expect using words are likely to be far more effective than waving my arms around, insulting others, and sitting in a hole.


My new therapist seems to be working out. I have only seen her three times, but she has a face that closes tight like a brick wall when she is listening. Frankly, that is exactly what I wanted… I hate watching people pass judgement on me or my situation while I am talking to them.

I have been having trouble writing for a myriad of reasons, I think I may have been traversing some hypomania last week or the week before but the energy and activity associated with it has taken a toll on my body (that is still healing from surgery). This week has been the physical crash that follows, and my 13-14 hours of sleep followed by exhaustion during the day has not leant itself to much motivation or productivity whatsoever.

My optometrist suggested I have been having ocular migraines -honestly I didn’t know that was something that even existed. I am pretty tired of heaping physical health problems on top of already crippling emotional ones… but such is life I suppose. If it isn’t one thing it is another, I am just glad I can eat relatively normally again.


Revenge of the Emotions!

It seems that sometimes when I am in a very stressful or emotionally overwhelming situation my mind likes to go on vacation. It totally checks out, teleporting from my skull-cavity to somewhere a few feet above my body where it takes a nap, or dances, or sometimes swims with dolphins. The resulting husk (me) can no longer effectively communicate, but I also can no longer feel the distressing emotions that situation x-y-z would normally bring on.

I’m pretty sure the clinical term for moments like this is “disassociation”. I leave the situation, my consciousness goes away to avoid undue stress or traumatic factors. What is left behind can be on autopilot and at other times a still, blank meat puppet.

When this happened last weekend, I [operating as a detached husk] found the result almost a little funny. Things I would generally consider horrible were no longer an issue. While friends and family members were writhing in agony, my mind was dancing the cha-cha. Frankly, I was a bit glad because I knew going into the specific situation that it would be difficult… and having checked my senses of despair or concern at the door felt, well, nice.

I realize how that might sound, but imagine you’ve found a jack in the box and you know without a doubt that causing that clown to come out of the box will be disturbing, yet you feel compelled (and even obligated) to do it. You wind the little lever, hear the delicate chimes playing “pop goes the weasel”, but nothing pops out.

No clown, no demon, no carnage.

My life is full of these boxes that I am constantly opening, constantly being wrecked by outrageous emotional turmoil over a simple plastic clown, or a ceramic chipped demon. I admit, when nothing emerged (or maybe it did and I couldn’t see it) I felt a profound, perhaps even spiritual sense of relief.

That relief began to grow into feelings of hope that I might have somehow stumbled onto the secret management technique for mood swings and reactivity that would inevitably save me. Hope that maybe I have finally become desensitized enough to some of these clowns and demons to live comfortably with the acceptance of their existence but without judgement or the need for them to change. I pat myself on the back, good job, I thought. Maybe I am evolving.

My brain came home slowly. It might have come through the door into my void skull on Monday but by Tuesday it still hadn’t settled in. It was still unpacking the damp bathing suits and stolen hotel mini shampoo from the vacation, and by Wednesday with the suitcase put away and the laundry done it sat down in it’s chair and went to work plugging in all of the electrodes back into itself to reconnect to the husk.

Sure enough, as my brain reconnected every moment of the few days prior began to replay in my mind but the unconcerned and relatively emotionally blank tracks fixed to the images began to change. Every humorous moment became a punch to the gut. Every jack-in-the-box that hadn’t opened now erupted with laughing clowns, doubled over and demons waggling their fingers, satisfied that my sense of relief and self-satisfaction were a sham.

As I saw the true nature of things and the way these emotionally binding moments have been for many years sprung at me all at once, I felt ashamed for thinking I had somehow skated past them. For thinking I had evolved. For thinking I had won.

When the emotional flood hit me, it took my breath away. The best I could do was to sit and wait and cry until it was over, and even then -even today my guts and ego and emotions feel bruised.