I Have Bi-Polar Disease
In recent years, scientists have learned that bipolar exists along a spectrum – a sliding scale – of mood disorders . At one end might be depression, which most people have a pretty good grasp of. Then you get towards the middle, and there you’ll find that there are actually TWO kinds of bipolar. There’s Bipolar II, in which people experience major depressive episodes, but not full-blown manic episodes. Instead, they experience hypomania, which is a much less severe version of mania. Those with Bipolar II also do not experience certain psychotic features, such as hallucinations or delusions. (For the record, psychotic definitely does not equal Christian Bale hacking you to pieces in his living room.) Bipolar I, however, means you have experienced both major manic and depressive episodes, and possibly some of the psychoses I mentioned above.
It’s pretty easy to imagine what a depressive episode feels like – especially with the prevalence of prescription med commercials these days. My depressive episodes have traditionally felt a lot like those commercials, except … worse. It feels like crushing grief, all the time. The worst grief you can imagine hitting you in the face every time you wake up – and then extraordinary frustration because … you have NOTHING to feel this level of grief over. Nothing! It’s just there. And it won’t go away; it haunts you. All you want to do is sleep. You don’t get dressed. You don’t bathe. You don’t walk your dogs or make dinner. You don’t answer your phone, even when your sick mother is calling. It’s just a void. And it feels inescapable. And when you feel like that, you crave mania the way a dope sick addict craves the needle. Because you are convinced that if the mania comes, you’ll be fine.
And at first, you are. You are out of bed, you are dressed, and man are you plowing through your chores. The house has never been so clean. You’re losing weight again (never mind that it’s because you are forgetting to eat). The dogs are happy, your friends are thrilled that you are being social again. You are speeding through things at work and your boss loves you. But then cracks start to appear. You see a cat in your house. (You don’t have cats.) Driving across that overpass, you think, “Oh my God, wouldn’t it be awesome to go over the edge? I bet if I got up enough speed, it would totally work!” You start forgetting things. You can’t stop running laps around your block. Suddenly, it’s like you’ve been on a cocaine binge for two months.