Daily Archives: October 9, 2011

Pancake Post

Within the last two weeks my mood has shifted rapidly from showing signs of fairly severe depression to those in the realm nearing mania. This last bout of depression lasted around a year with very few fluctuations so I initially embraced the change with some gusto.

I don’t feel like I have ever been able to objectively look at both depression and mania at the same time. Generally when I am in the throes of one I am nowhere near the other, the only exception being periods where I am experiencing both (however I don’t claim to be able to see anything objectively in those times). Over the last two weeks I have seen this illness in a way I never have before, almost like staying awake for 24 hours and observing both day and night with equal clarity.

With its extreme energy, creativity, and other “fun” qualities it seems like a lot of people with bipolar disorder often forget that mania can be detrimental, I know I do. It is easy for me to be excited that I can finally stay up later than 9pm, however it is frustrating to now not be able to fall asleep until 4am.

It is nice to feel confident for a change, but this overconfidence can often lead to brash and just plain stupid behavior.

Probably the most frustrating of all for me is the fact that I have written this post now 4 times. My mind has ideas and follows thoughts so quickly that it is difficult to stay on a single topic, as well as to write objectively. Even right now I am writing about something which has little to do with what I wanted to discuss in the first place.

Alright, I am going to try this one more time.

I’m not sure if it was mania or if it was the imprudence of my youth but I have crushed the (few) previous romantic relationships that I’ve had in some very uncouth ways. The top of my list in this category involves a complete inability to edit both my rational and irrational thoughts before relaying them to my partner. I had a knack for sparking mass hysteria with my words alone, and I’ve seen relationships writhe and wither in my presence.

When I met my current boyfriend, (we’ll call him C.) I was alarmed to find that I had fallen for someone that I also respected. I actually cared what came out of my mouth because I didn’t want to hurt him. Initially my rule of thumb was, “when in doubt, shut your mouth.” I had a whole regimen of things to do (or not do) in order to avoid being what I never wanted to be.

The “crazy girlfriend”.

You know who I’m talking about. The girl who reads her boyfriend’s emails when he isn’t home and makes big, wildly inappropriate scenes and basically has to change by the end of the movie or she ends up alone.

I can’t say that in the last 3-4 years we’ve been together that I haven’t burst into tears on occasion for no apparent reason, or (gently) thrown my cell phone across the room in a fit of rage. I’ll admit it, sure. However, for having bipolar disorder I would say that I have done a pretty great job of avoiding the title of “crazy girlfriend” and I largely attribute that to the fact that I have taken the time to think before I speak. That one little change has made all the difference.

Anyway, yesterday. C and I are sitting on the couch watching tv and I am working on taking down a plate of pancakes. Suddenly, without warning, I turned to him and said something like, “I don’t think you really like me anymore.”

I’ll admit that when I said it, I felt it was true. But I often think and feel things that don’t make sense, which is why I try to think before I put them out into the world. I don’t know if it was mania that tripped me up this time, if it was the pancakes or watching tv or the lack of sleep from the previous night, all I know is that I said it with an overwhelming sense of gravity.

Then, a fraction of a second later, both of us burst into hysterical laughter! I was laughing so hard that I was crying. Somehow we both knew instantly that the notion of him not liking me anymore was ridiculous. In previous relationships, them would have been fightin’ words… but with all of the things we’ve been through together, I believe C really gets me. I am grateful every day to have a connection with someone who is so supportive, he is a rockstar.

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It’s a small world after all

Tonight I feel like my social encounter was typical of what I normally run across these days.

Let me elaborate.

Around 8 I made my way to a friend’s birthday party. Given her previous parties I hadn’t had much luck finding anything in common with her current friends so I was a little nervous to go. Nervous enough to stop at a hospital on the way to her apartment to use the restroom, not so nervous to try to stay home and shy away from the party completely. In any case, I was certain that once I arrived and had one alcoholic beverage the nerves would dissipate and I would be able to slide my way into a social crack, because that is my forte.

When I arrived it was still early (by Seattle “going out” standards anyway) so I quickly joked with the only other guest available at the time.

This guest then latched on to me, sensing a similar set of values (humorous foodies with an obscure sense of fashion and social situations). We quickly bonded and I began to admire said guest, wondering where my initial nerves spawned from in the first place.

Three hours in on the way to a bar downtown the conversation led me in a direction I don’t normally go in casual social conversation. I said to her (and I believe the topic revolved initially around birth control) that I am bipolar.

What happened next I should have guessed. The lovely humorous blond woman standing next to me initiated a bond that would seal our fates; she told me that she is also bipolar.

Now, this has happened to me in another situation too recently for me to objectively discern how often this could happen to the average joe. I just reach a point where I am feeling comfortable with someone, comfortable enough to tell them my “little dark secret” and it turns out that they too have hesitantly found themselves answering me with the same words.

I live in Seattle, a city of some 563,000 people… and at this time my two best female friends have both been diagnosed at one point in their lives with bipolar disorder. One of them I knew this when I met her, another I didn’t find out until five years after I met her. Tonight I met another young woman who I connected to rapidly, only to find out that she has also been diagnosed with this disorder. Not only has she been diagnosed, but she had been planning on going to the support group this Monday night that I normally go to (and sometimes help run). Small world? Yes.

My question for tonight is this: do people with a certain mental process attract others that seem to function with a similar process? In other words, will my bipolar mind be constantly drawn to other bipolar minds? The concept doesn’t surprise me, it only makes sense that two minds that function similarly would get along. At the same time it feels bizarre to me that with 563,000 people in this city I will unintentionally gravitate toward those with bipolar disorder 9 times out of 10.

Is this evolution? It feels like it has begun to happen too often now to be coincidence.