10 Things Bipolar People DON’T Want You To Know

I don’t often reblog, but I felt compelled to share this. This post by Michelle really captures the feelings of bipolar people who don’t want to scare away everyone else. We never tell our loved ones the whole truth because of the fear it might be too much for them to handle. Michelle writes some of the things we want to keep secret from everyone.

To Be an Equal

I can’t count the number of articles I’ve come across with the title # Things Bipolar People Want/Wish You Knew or the List Of Things People With Mental Illnesses Wish People Understood. And for the most part, they’re pretty spot on. But I want to come at it from a different angle. I’ve done my best to keep it pretty similar in format, but if you feel I got something wrong, or missed a key point, drop me a comment! (Images thanks to Google-I own nothing.)

  1. We’re scared of our symptoms too.

bp2There’s nothing quite like the dive between (hypo)mania and depression when you feel like you can see the world crumbling around you. Or the emptiness that makes you feel like a dead (wo)man walking-no cares, no love, nothing. Or the darkest parts of depression when it hurts to cry because you’re trying not to wake anyone, so you…

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self-centered

My bipolar makes me self-centered, and not in a healthy way. Sometimes I obsess over my depression and anxiety and insecurities, and the inner dialog becomes all about me-me-me. In those times I really don’t care about other people and their problems.

It’s difficult when I spend so much energy managing my own health, and there is so little energy left for anything outside myself. Sometimes I feel like I have to protect my fragile psyche when events become too overwhelming, and my thoughts focus inward. It is good to take care of myself, but I’m not very empathetic unless something affects me personally.

emotional eating

I seem to be stuck in an endless cycle of eating, satisfaction, and depression. I think I am addicted to the feeling of being full and satisfied. I can’t get satisfaction any other way, so I eat the sadness away. I feel full and content for a while, but then the feeling goes away, so I have to eat more to bring the feeling back again. In the meantime I feel embarrassed and disgusted about being fat, which leads to depression. A few hours later I need to eat again, and the cycle continues. I wish my depression made me lose my appetite. Instead it makes me crave comfort, and comfort food, and so I eat.

I learned this behavior when I was young. My adopted mom was also an emotional eater. Furthermore, we used food as an escape from the toxic and abusive environment we lived in. When she and I would go out to eat, we could avoid talking about our problems, and for a short time escape reality by enjoying the food and the feeling of being full. After the meal was done, we would go back to reality, and the momentary happiness dissolved.

I don’t know how to disassociate food from happiness. I enjoy good food, but I will also eat mediocre food to get the emotional high. In the meantime I don’t really do anything to take care of my body, like exercising or making better food choices. Vegetables don’t make me feel full and content.

Because of the embarrassment and anxiety of being seen eating, I would rather eat alone. I prefer take-out food to eating in, and I love drive-up windows. I try not to go to the same place more than once a week so they don’t remember me, because that would also be embarrassing.

By the way, it’s time for a snack.

beast of burden

I’ll never be your beast of burden
My back is broad but it’s a hurting

I’ve walked for miles my feet are hurting
— Rolling Stones

Our house, in the middle of our street

Our house it has a crowd
There’s always something happening
And it’s usually quite loud
— Madness


We moved on to the next chapter in life. Our house is sold; we left it with little sentimentality (except for Nicole, who cried a couple of times). I don’t really worry about stuff like houses and cars and household junk, although photos and music are important to me. Besides, home is where the cats are, and they adjusted very quickly, even the blind cat.

The move went fine, even though it was tiring and painful. We schlepped everything into the moving van, then schlepped everything upstairs at the rental house. The goat family helped us for most of the day. Anne’s dad helped us also; at 74 he is strongest of all of us. Among the crew we had bad knees, bad backs, gall stones, ADHD, and bipolar. Maybe that should be the tagline for a moving company: Two Bipolar Men And A Truck, We move your emotional baggage.

The process of selling was very stressful for me, and I expected an emotional letdown afterward. That doesn’t seem to have happened, just a big sigh and a feeling of relief that it is all over and the money is in the bank account. Life has pretty much become a new normal, with new scenery. I still have my problems with anxiety and bipolar depression, but otherwise things are okay.

Now I need a car upgrade.

the mother of all visits

The mother of all visits went pretty much as I expected. The first couple of days were fine, the next 2 days she got on my nerves, and on the last day I think we were both glad she got on the plane.

The simple truth is that I just don’t like her. She is a little too pushy, too loud, too racist, too whatever, and it just rubs me the wrong way. She thinks she knows everything and is an expert on everything, and isn’t afraid to let you know. She thinks she has my problems figured out, and she thinks she can figure out Nicole’s problems. Just like 10 years ago, I don’t really know how to tell her that she has no right to do that.

We are such vastly different people. She hides her vulnerabilities behind brash outspokenness, while I try to disappear into the wallpaper. She loves to speak her mind constantly – so many words – where I am more parsimonious with my thoughts. She is very emotional, while I am dead inside. She has no respect for my personal space, while my space bubble is the limit of my vision.

She pushes too much sometimes. She touches me when I don’t want her to. I guess it is a combination of her personality and her desire to be parental. She is constantly finding new and horrifying ways to express her love, which I have not returned. She is trying too hard to be “Mom”, and I don’t really want that. I don’t know how to express that without upsetting her deeply. Like I wrote in the old blog many years ago, I don’t want or need another Mom; I had one, and the experience wasn’t the best, and I don’t need B-mom thinking she is finally ready to assume that role.

This is no way to build a relationship, yet that is exactly what she has wanted for the past 10 years. I don’t know how to like someone when I don’t, so I guess I fake it, just like I fake everything else.

It has been almost two weeks since she left, and we haven’t talked. If I could get a word in, I might tell her how much her meddling irritates me. I could tell her I don’t have room to “love” any more people. I could tell her I don’t really want her to visit again, and definitely not longer next time. Then again, I won’t get a chance to say any of those things because she will be talking the entire time.

bad knees

Fishrobber Classic – December 2012:

If a guy had bad knees but ran marathons, then collapsed in tears at the end of each race, and had to go lay down and do nothing so he could rest before the next race … people would talk about his courageousness, toughness, dedication, strength.

If he was forced to run the race to earn his family’s only source of income, and had no time or energy for other hobbies or friends, they would talk about his selflessness to provide for his family while sacrificing his own body and happiness.

If people found out the runner took drugs to help his body recover, he would be ridiculed as a fraud, a cheater, a less honorable person for having resorted to chemistry to perform better. People might question whether he should run at all.

How is this different from the functioning bipolar person? My mind is my knees, the marathon is daily life. My strength is a show for everyone while I feel weak inside; I sacrifice the happiness I don’t feel I deserve. I have no time or energy for hobbies or friends because I collapse at the end of each day, but my selflessness is really a sham concealing a dark desire to run away from this life and be free from its responsibility. People would treat me differently if they found out I was constantly medicated.

I wonder what happens when I can no longer run the race every day.

hectic

There has been a lot going on at the homestead recently. We talked to a realtor to prepare for listing our house for sale; we started a massive clean-up program in preparation for showing the house; I had a psychiatrist appointment; we had a yard sale that failed miserably; and my mother is coming to visit this weekend.

Short recap for those who don’t know: I was given for adoption at birth and raised by a single woman, a part-time-functional alcoholic with mental health problems; she died when I was 21, leaving me without a family; after searching off and on for several years I made contact with my birth-mom in 2007; due to my issues our relationship did not start well; and in recent years we have become closer to what an adult mother-son relationship might look like, if I knew how to do that. She wants to be “Mom”, and I’m a little distant, even 10 years later. I don’t feel good about that, I’m just wired that way.

Anyway, b-mom is coming to visit us in Ohio for the first time since the 2007 visit. I have been to Georgia twice, and she stayed with us last year in NC for a few days. I have stuff planned to do together, and we going to the farm to visit the goat family in-laws (who are working hard at their farming). B-mom was/is an alcoholic (maybe 27 years sober?), so I will take her to visit the locations where AA got started. We might visit Amish country, we might do a ball game, we might do other stuff, but hopefully she has a good time. I’m good at being a travel agent, even if I’m not that good at relationships. Let’s fill the time with activity to avoid relating on a personal level.

ultraviolet

The vacation was overall pretty good. Nicole started to freak out a little by the 2nd night, as I thought she would. She was getting anxious sharing a small space with us, and she wanted a hotel room of her own (which of course could not happen financially). We solved the problem by changing hotels and finding a two-room suite for slightly higher price than what we had reserved. She was able to have her own space, and her anxiety calmed down a lot. We went to the beach, we saw museums and the aquarium, we visited with Dan a few times, and Nicole got to go to the anime convention. I wrote “PLEH” on the sand in honor of Joey.

20170522_142036[1]

The ugly part of the trip started on the beach. I slathered up with sunscreen on the exposed parts of my upper half, then changed from pants to shorts, and forgot to put sunscreen on my legs. I got a severe sunburn in about 2 hours due to simple stupidity on my part. Being so fair skinned you would think I could remember, but it just slipped my mind. The pain really kicked in on the 2nd day, the liquid-filled oozing blisters appeared on the 3rd day, and the remainder of the trip was spent doing first aid on myself. I still have sore spots that have not healed, but now mostly just dry, damaged skin. I don’t know how long it will take to heal, and I may have increased my chances for cancer. I would post pictures, but I don’t think you want to see that.

Next time we visit, whenever that may be, we will rent a house on the beach or stay in a beachfront hotel. It wasn’t as much fun driving back and forth from the city as it would be if we were right there, having the freedom to go outside whenever you want.

southbound

We will be headed down to North Carolina again tomorrow. The plan is to spend a few days at the beach, a few days visiting with our son Dan, and drive home next Sunday.

I don’t know if everything will go according to plan.

Nicole has been a little unstable the past week, not dangerously so, but just enough that all of us have noticed it. My prediction is that the first few days at the beach will go fine, but when we get to Raleigh she will start being first agitated, then depressed, then in tears. She will be out of her comfort zone, she will miss her cats, and not even the anime convention will make her want to stay. She will be further upset because (I also predict) that Dan will not have much time to hang out with her because he will prefer to hang out with his friends at the anime convention. I bet that we end up going home one or two days early, and everyone will be stressed out.

It is tough to plan anything due to Nicole’s illness. She sleeps at random times, she changes her mind about going places, and she resists keeping appointments with doctors. She won’t wake up when she needs to, but she gets mildly angry when she misses out on something. She chooses to not go out for dinner, but she insists we bring home food for her. It gets frustrating and stressful for Mrs. Fish and I to arrange our lives around her mental state.

Unfortunately, we are staying in a hotel near the beach instead of like last year when we rented a house on the beach. I don’t think it will be quite as enjoyable or relaxing this time, but a little beach time is better than no beach time at all.

tidepools

I saw your picture on Fakebook, loooking slightly windblown in a sweatshirt and jeans, braving the Mendocino weather. You were leaning on a smooth bleached log in the sand, surrounded by friends, enjoying the moment.

That was supposed to be my picture.

I took you and our friends camping on the beach. I showed you the creatures in the tidepools; you got pinched by a crab, and I kissed your hand to make it feel better. We walked up the beach for an hour, and returned closer than before. The group drank and played games by the fire, and I told you this had been the best day we ever spent together. Your deep brown eyes hinted at something more, and later that night we broke through the “friend barrier”. I cooked everyone breakfast, and you surprised the group by giving me a long, full tender kiss; in response to everyone’s stares, you smiled and said “thanks for breakfast.” Best campout ever.

I saw your picture on Fakebook, and but for a twist of fate, I would have been the one behind the lens.

Of course the world moved on, as did our lives, and here we are years later in separate worlds. As tidepools are abandoned by the receding tide, so do the feelings of love, sadness, and missed opportunity become more isolated over time … until one photo brings the flood of memories back again.