I recently told someone that one of the key elements of bipolar disorder is the overreaction. While it is true that all kinds of people overreact to things every day, it is often the caliber of the overreaction that sets a bipolar reaction apart.
A couple days ago I found myself falling into the overreaction pit when somebody told me I had “a bad attitude.”
Well, yes. I was cranky, irritable, and had a headache… and when people tell me I have a bad attitude, I often wonder if they realize that my attitude isn’t exactly reigned in like that of the general population. Steep frequent mood swings often leave a pile of attitude carcasses in its wake, but I haven’t been able to manage this any better than I have, say, been able to snap my fingers and become un-depressed.
So you can believe that if I started out that conversation with a bad attitude, what transpired in the next 30 minutes left me with a villianous attitude. Far worse than just bad, this attitude put on an eyepatch and punched a baby elephant in the face.
The difference between this overreaction and most was that I found myself walking down the path to overreaction quite aware of what was happening, without seemingly being able to stop myself. I cringed as a series of pissed off mutterings were followed by some polite mutterings were then followed by something, like a swarm of bees in my head, that began telling me how insulting this was and how it was imperative that I do something about it.
We wrestled, the overreaction and I, until I nearly had it pinned down. I was doing deep breathing, I was swatting at those bees, but then… I was presented with a wild card that I really wasn’t expecting.
A panic attack.
An earthquake began in my hands, traveling up my arms to my chest. My chest wouldn’t hold air, and as it escaped, so opened the floodgates of tears and mucus and lip biting.
I lost. The overreaction overtook me, and I spent the rest of the evening quite miserable.
I did, however, learn something that I didn’t know before. Whatever is inside of me that helps overreactions transpire has a weakness. Now that I’ve seen that, I find myself holding a considerable amount of hope. Hope for overpowering those overreactions, and hope for a more stable attitude.