I’ve discovered something unique since I’ve started writing posts on this blog in relation to my bipolar. Countless times I’ve sat down to start writing only to stare blankly at a dull grey mist of a computer screen not able to describe how I feel or write anything of note.
I now know why.
As I sit here writing this listening to Arvo Part with my trusty friend sadness swirling around inside me, he is here, the other Paul. With being Him, being depressed it is the only way I can truly write these posts with outright conviction, honesty, uncompromised feelings and sincerity. Now as I look at the same computer screen it is a rainbow of feelings, emotions and memories of a place I feel safe, but yet a place I know I shouldn’t stay.
“Day to day” in the life of someone who suffers with bipolar or any other mental illness is not quite as simple as those three words seem, because from the moment I wake until I go to sleep my mind never stops. From my teenage years it’s always been a continuous daily battle that is both physically and mentally exhausting because my bipolar is ever present, relentless and incredibly unpredictable. It is an intelligent beast too because once I figure out its mode of attack (weight, worry, money, work, love, insecurity, solitude, hate, pain etc), it will calmly retreat back inside my mind patiently waiting for another weakness to clandestinely latch onto and attack.
The best way I’ll describe my mind is like the internal workings of a clock where people view the face and see the hands representing the time, but hidden behind the face reside the cogs and mechanism that makes the clock work. Some days the clock works fine as the cogs, mechanism and hands work in unison. Some days the cogs movement becomes inconsistent affecting the mechanism, which in turn makes the hands on the face out of sync – becoming evident to those intuitive viewers. Some days without warning the cogs suddenly stop working, all mechanism cease operation, the hands on the face freeze and it is now very apparent to anybody that something is seriously wrong.
To those of you reading this that can relate to my description above may understand that when my cogs suddenly stop I don’t let anybody see the hands frozen on my face because I will recoil into the safety of my bed from between 3 to 5 days, dependent on when the cogs slowly spring back into life.
List of usual bipolar traits that await me:
- I don’t want to speak to anybody.
- I don’t want to see anybody
- People annoy the fuck out of me.
- Anything infuriates me.
- The pain inside my mind as it rages out of control at near light speed is crippling.
- I cry for no reason.
- I’m suicidal.
- I swim stranded in the middle of my own ocean of sadness.
- I fuckin’ hate everything about myself. I hate ME!
- I watch helplessly from the bottom of my well as He slowly pushes the boulder over the top extinguishing the light and leaving me in darkness.
I am a man with a deep abundance of inner strength and resolve, but what infuriates me is the fact that I am rendered completely helpless when my bipolar takes over. I am pushed back inside myself as He comes to the afore, taking a morbid satisfaction knowing no matter how hard I try there is nothing I can do while I’m sitting in the darkness at the bottom of my well. I have learnt to relax as my body and mind knowingly shuts down from the threat of bipolar with their natural coping mechanism, sleep. Once they feel the threat losing its strength and grip on me with the realization that the tidal wave is slowly subsiding back into my ocean of sadness, will they feel safe enough to slowly awaken me from my protective induced sleep.
I like the analogy of the clock with its face covering the real internal workings, because that perfectly describes me. It’s the same in the opening scenes of David Lynch’s fantastic movie “Blue Velvet” as the camera shows a white picket fence with red roses on a clear blue summers day. Then a slow motion shot of a smiling fireman waving happily with his dog next to him on a spotless red fire engine that’s driving past. Another perfect white picket fence this time with daffodils, followed by a shot of a crossing guard helping young school children across a road.
The next scene is a man watering his pristine garden while his wife is inside their home drinking tea watching a gangster movie. It reverts back to her husband who is having trouble with his hosepipe because it has got tangled around a bush, and as he yanks on it he suddenly has a heart attack falling onto his lovely watered pristine garden. Lying stricken on the grass still clutching the hosepipe that is now spraying up into the air he is joined by a small dog jumping up and down on him having fun drinking the water, while a small inquisitive boy walks down the drive towards him. All these opening scenes are to the 1963 song Blue Velvet by Bobby Vinton.
The mood of the movie changes as the warm tones of Blue Velvet fades, only to be replaced by an eerie droning sound to which the camera slowly sweeps over the top of the grass gradually descending below it into the darkness, where a plethora of insects reside.
Again I have learnt, in fact I’m always learning about my bipolar, about him. I have learnt that if I always smile and exude a façade of happiness I can get on with my life without people prying. Whereas if I walk about with my bipolar visible this will undoubtedly attract unwanted attention to me, and that is something I don’t want, or need.
I have become a very good actor.
This may seem extremely selfish, an unambiguous approach and without empathy towards others that genuinely care and want to help. But to those who don’t understand or haven’t had experience with someone who suffers from bipolar or mental illness, it’s futile, because there is nothing anyone can do once He takes control.
No matter how much someone loves or cares about me, He will shut them out, He will turn my emotions to stone, He will take immense pleasure in hurting that person whether it be my girlfriend, Mum, brother, sisters or my best friend. It really doesn’t matter.
Why? That’s simple. He wants me all for himself. He doesn’t want anyone to get close to me. He continuously reminds me that people will only hurt me if I let them get close to me, so when He feels threatened a vitriol of hurt will be aimed at that person.
Even with Cassie (my girlfriend) who has known me for ten years, I have to explain and reassure her that it is not me, it is Him. Thankfully she loves me unconditionally and I love her with all my heart so I know it’s imperative I teach her all about my bipolar and Him, or else He will over time, drive a dark wedge between us.
Cassie has seen and experienced my bipolar more than anyone (thankfully not him in full), yet she still finds it difficult in understanding certain aspects of it. I completely empathise with her, because even I struggle.
“Please remember that what I write down are my own experiences of MY bipolar. This doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone who suffers with bipolar.”