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Let’s Talk About Bipolar Disorder

My life is a collection of extremes. I have moods that have nothing to do with what is going on in my life. I may feel calm, but when Jim asks me something, I snap at him. He knows to wait for my meds to kick in.

Today, I’m dancing on the depressed end. I’ve been having flashbacks, crappy memories, and a deeper realization of the evil someone had aimed at me. I wrote a bit about the flashbacks and my response to them. I’m not sure if anyone will ever see what I’ve written, but I needed to get the words out of me and onto my laptop. Mostly, I’m pissed about all the crap that has been flung at me. Why do I have to have in my life people who lie awake at night thinking up new ways to hurt me? I know life isn’t easy. Why does it always have to be hard? That’s a bit of how it feels at the moment.

I’d medicate myself out of this, but that’s not a good idea. I’m supposed to take Wellbutrin twice a day. I only take it once a day. Taking it twice a day, or even taking one and a half pills a day, causes hallucinations. There’s a trick to hallucinations. If I just let the hallucinations happen and sit back to enjoy them, it’s a whole lot easier on my psyche. If I have a choice, I’d rather have hallucinations than withdrawal. That’s part of bipolar disorder. Put two of us together and we discuss our meds, how well or how poorly our meds are working, the most recent withdrawal, what to do with flashbacks. Humor: You had a rash when you went off (med)? I only had hallucinations and had to throw up. Humor: The difference between psych meds and heroin is that with psych meds, you only puke once. Devoid of humor: When the flashback arrives, look at it, acknowledge that what happened was crappy and should never have happened. Then the memory will go back down on its own. No need to stuff that sucker under a pile of denial. Devoid of humor: All my feelings are like frozen peas stuck way back in the freezer and I’ve no idea how to let the peas out. Mostly, I don’t want to let the peas out. Peas suck. Which is pretty strange because I like eating peas.

Meds make my life easier and nicer. Meds don’t solve the bipolar problem. Meds tone down the bipolar problem. I’m not screaming, but I still feel like a hockey  puck sometimes. Slap! Depression. Slap! Manic. If there are triggers for either end, I haven’t found them. Unmedicated, even I can’t stand to be around me and I have no way to get away from me.

I have a collection of things I can do to moderate the extremes. Working in my sketchbook always helps. It calms me down and lifts me up. This morning, I sketched out some ideas for working with patterns made from colored clay. Later, I played in the mud. I made two soap dishes, made a mug (okay, the handle gets made tomorrow), and put white terra sig on the insides of bowls and a mug made from chocolate colored clay. I’m going to be playing with glazes on the insides of the bowls and the mug. I did some dye experiments. I had worked out an Antarctica quilt and I’m dyeing Jim’s white  cotton socks so I can audition colors for the quilt. I’ve got 21 colors done and I’ve got 9 more to go. I can only fit 12 canning jars into the big pan I’ve got. Salt, soda ash and very warm water goes in the jars. Then Jim gets to carry the pan outside where I add dye and a sock to each jar. I’m going to  be working with perspective and light on this quilt. I need to see what light, medium and dark value of whatever color I pick looks like when placed side by side.

I have relaxation music and I listened to it.

All of that helped.

I ate ice cream. That didn’t help.

There’s a notion that being bipolar helps one to be an artist. Bullshit. The mood swings don’t cause me to make art. Something inside of me gets spiritually constipated when I don’t create art. The mood swings allow me to make emotional art.

I don’t mind being bipolar. I get to have an understanding of mental illness that mentally healthy people can never have. It’s just that sometimes, bipolar disorder gets to be tiresome. Bipolar disorder requires an enormous amount of energy. I’m always looking at my responses. Is this the response a “normal” person would make? Am I over the top again? Do I need to break out the emergency psych meds? I’m snapping at Jim, so I have to grit my teeth and make sure I’m nice to people around me. I’m in manic mode and I have to ensure I don’t buy culinary accoutrements that I don’t need. I don’t spend lots of money…. I work damned hard to control those spending urges. I try to find just enough spending to satisfy the manic moment but well below the amount of spending that would cause financial difficulties. I wouldn’t make for entertaining reality TV. Mostly, reality isn’t all that entertaining.

Tomorrow, I start over again. Maybe I’ll be less depressed. Maybe I’ll be near center. Maybe I’ll bounce off the boards, hit the goal post then bounce off someone’s skate and get stuck behind the net. Bipolar disorder is never dull.

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Author:

I retired from the Public Defender Dept. November 12, 2015 after 21+ years as a criminal defense attorney. Now, I'm a full time multi-media artist and writer starting on a new adventure. As an artist, I create with beads, fabric, fiber, and ceramic clay. Sometimes separately; sometimes in assorted combinations. You can find my on-line store at: www.debthumanart.com.