Cresting the Loop

The Bipolar Loop

The Bipolar Loop

It is my belief that bipolar symptoms run on something of a loop.

(My computer is broken, so please excuse the sketch I took directly from my journal.)

At the lowest point on the loop, we are at our worst (health-wise), while at the crest of the loop it can easily feel like we are normal, every-day human beings, functioning regularly.

Nearing the crest of this loop is one of the most dangerous places we can be, because, while in near perfect health, we lose sight of the bottom of that loop. Out of sight means out of mind, leaving bipolar disorder capable of doing something most illnesses can’t; convincing us over and over again we’ve miraculously healed.

I’ve been seeing a lot of instances of this phenomenon lately, and for about two weeks I’ve felt myself getting closer and closer to the crest of the loop. It is kind of funny to me how feeling well brings its own set of delusions, like I don’t need help, or I can work now, or I guess I don’t need this medication anymore. 

I guess in that sense, even when we are well, we aren’t entirely well. Being free of the negativity of, say, depression, can leave one relying too heavily on the general optimism that works without it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been tricked by the crest of the loop. The instant I begin to feel fine I am transported to another time and place, almost to another life. I revert back into thinking I am a high-functioning individual. 

Right now I’m in the midst of an experiment. In the past, becoming blinded by the crest of the loop meant taking new jobs, or taking on new projects to apply my new found functioning to, and the loop has always carried on, taking me swiftly back down to the bottom.

I have been wondering if the loop happens because I take on too much? Am I driving myself to fall into the same bipolar pits over and over and over again? Is the stress dragging me to the bottom of the loop?

If that is the case, what would happen if I don’t take on something new, something huge, and something stressful? Could I maintain a level of mediocre functioning at the top of the loop? Or would I still fall?

This is exactly what I aim to find out.

The last couple weeks I have been feeling better. Not great, mind you, not nearing hypomania (by any means), but like I can function a bit better than I have been the last few months. I can feel myself nearing the crest of that loop, itching to pick up something new and exciting to meet this new level of functioning.

I am not going to.

I am going to ride it out and see where the loop takes me, whether that is back down, or if I can maintain some semblance of normalcy.

And if I do get dragged back down? Lesson learned.

I’m not too concerned, the loop always comes back around.

11 responses to “Cresting the Loop

  1. When I looked at your loop, I saw barbed wire…scary…

  2. I sure can relate. When my brain starts working better, it also starts deluding me into thinking that it’s really and truly well. Lies. All lies.

  3. At times I am happy for this loop (as I am moving up), and at others I am terrified by this loop (when I feel myself cresting the top). I guess this makes me bipolar about being bipolar 🙂

  4. Good post! So hard to resist taking on grandiose projects approaching the top. Keep us updated on the results of your investigation…

  5. This is so clearly a much more fun and beneficial time to explore bipolar illness than the majority of the 26 years I tried to “figure out” what was going on with me. It’s a delight to sit down to my computer and find such a spectrum of experience, tools, efforts, conversations. I believe many of us would like to see the day when we truly are “high functioning” and remain there. I know that is one of my dreams. I appreciate your sharing and excellent writing so much. Thanks!

  6. Putting it in loop form makes perfect sense, also like my roller coaster analogy. Today I am hypomanic, doing a million of different things at once and I need to refocus myself. I am glad to know that I am not alone in feeling the way that I do.

  7. Thank you for putting it so succinctly. I would appreciate more posts on this subject as you go through your experiment, as the experience is similar for me. I happen to be on my way up from the bottom right now, but the crest is something I can imagine myself reaching soon.

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  10. I was a high achiever in school and marked for big things in life. Then bipolar disorder happened, and even simple work became a challenge. Yet every time I am moving up the crest, I suspend my memory and want to believe that this time I may have made it. But alas! The other side comes swiftly. My life is exactly as you have described. I will go the grave pining for one damn long jig of ‘high functioning’, one silver medal of glory on my chest, which never happened.

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