Jul 22, 2014

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Missing Mania [Column on Bipolar Disorder]

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Editor’s Note: This column focuses on bipolar disorder, as written by a Latina woman who wants to share her story and journey with bipolar disorder.  Previous columns are here, here and here. 

Missing Mania*

Usually at this point in time I’m up at 1 a.m., 2 a.m. jotting down ideas and feeling inspired.  Instead, I am run-down, having nightmares from the sleep medication side effects, and having people comment on how tired I look.  And that in itself is exhausting.

Before I reached more stability, it was in these overworked moments where sudden boosts of energy would magically appear.  My mind and body were equipped with these vigorous pockets of liveliness. Latinas are usually on the go, but this is an extremely elevated mood.  Not normal.  Most people tire after exhaustion; I gained more energy.  However, it doesn’t seem to be the case any longer with the medication I take now.  I absolutely hate taking my daily pill and sometimes put it off a few hours until the dizzy spells happen.  But I do it.  Why?  For my son.

What I wish I could do is dump them all down the toilet and flush!  I was built with strength.  I can take it.  But in reality, I need the professional help.** I cannot try to do it on my own anymore.  At the same time, I want to feel and see and know all over again.  Where jumping up and down and around for miles isn’t enough to take me down.  It’s invigorating and keeps me closer to enlightenment.  The feelings are inexplicable.  I feel courageous.  I feel honest.  I am blunt.  The creativity buried inside comes alive and embraces racing thoughts which lead to bright ideas and beautiful pieces of art.  I feel in love and over the moon writing endless lyrics that seem empowering enough to move an entire army of giants.  I rule over everyone in small talk.  The air is alive.  I am omniscient.

….What I don’t miss are the days afterward when my head feels heavy and the tears never end.  Where I could shut out the sun for what seems like decades and am buried in my pillows.  When I call out sick from work for days at a time.  When it seems as though there is nothing to live for.  Where I just want to feel there is something there.

Mania led me into deep, dark tunnels of depression.  The party never lasts.  The inevitable dark hole would retain my progress once more.  In one second I was the hero becoming the antagonist of my life’s story.  My friends would stop calling because I stopped answering.  And in the worst episodes I ended up in a white room without shoelaces and belts.  The pictures are embedded vividly in my mind.

All of this may sound poetic, but it’s not.  It can become a nightmare.  It can be a true disaster to anyone’s life. And a crucial decade at that.  A decade where I made my lifelong friends and lost some; where I bought my first car and had it re-posessed; where I found the love of my life and ruined the entire relationship; where I had opportunities for my music career to launch but ignored them because hard work wasn’t my style; where I (luckily) graduated college on my mischievous talent of persuasion and God-given talents because my moods were inconsistent.

I was infamous as a party girl.  Nowadays it’s embarrassing when I recount those fun days.  People who (only) knew me in that unstable time period still refer to me as crazy.  Not always in a good way.  Sometimes in the mental way, sometimes in the wild way, and sometimes in the out-of-control way.  I look back to the mania, and miss it in times like these but think about the history which never had a different outcome.  The mania always becomes depression.

I can’t take those risks any longer.  I want to be healthy but simultaneously miss the old me.  I want to feel beautiful again, but in actuality I should want to be beautiful.  Life is not full of blacks and whites – but many shades of gray.

Even though I have been more grounded in my life than ever before in the last 2 years, I have longed for the feelings I was once so accustomed to.  I miss being manic.  I know the consequences, yet I still yearn for it.  I am in a constant war with myself.  What I am learning, slowly, is I do not need to rid of it all.  Hypomania (a lesser version of mania) still lurks around and creeps into my being.  But hypomania has its perks.  Creativity.  Increased work ethic.  Charm.  I can’t become manic in the spending spree destructive way, but I can benefit from its positives in being a better mother.  I can channel that creativity into being a better musician.  The work ethic and charm will place me on a road to being a better person.

Bipolar is liveable if you’re cautious.  It’s the only way of life I know.  The best I can do is take the positives from it all and empower myself.  Being the strong Latina that I am, I know I can.  Isn’t that what we’re known for?

* The opposite of depression; madness; a state of elevated moods; can cause irritability, dangerously high energy levels, hallucinations, delusion of grandeur, suspicion, aggression, and self neglect.

** Cognitive behavioral therapy 1-4 times a month, stabilizer medications (i.e. Lithium, Lamictal), benzodiazopines (i.e. Xanax, Klonopins)

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Anonymous Contributor

Anonymous Contributor

The writer is a Latina woman who wants to share her story and journey with bipolar disorder, to bring aware and provide information on this condition.

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Comments

  1. This post really hit home with me. I could relate to so many of the things the author spoke about. It was written with such beauty and eloquence that I felt the stigma of mental illness slip away if just for a moment. Thank you for sharing your journey. Know that you are not alone.

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