How to Save a Life

I recently got an email from someone who read one of my reviews on Amazon. The writer had gone to All The Things Inbetween, found out that I’m a superhero and my superpower is being bipolar. She was impressed, who wouldn’t be? I have a freakin’ superpower. Deadpool only wishes he was hot like me.

Bipolar isn’t bad.

I won’t kid you, it’s got it’s more than just ups and downs. I’ve found some balance recently, but it took me almost 25 years to get my head above it all to where I felt like I wasn’t always suffocating. We call it level. You are level. It sounds so mechanical. There is nothing in this world that is less mechanical than being bipolar. If you aren’t bipolar you won’t even be able to understand what the word means. You will get some ridiculous picture of it in your head from stories you hear. Or TV. Yeah–I suggest you not get your psychology degree on Google either. We are like eggs, we come in all shapes and colors; sometimes you break a few of us to make an omelette. Nothing you hear about being bipolar can give you a clear image. I might as well tell you I’m dark matter; it will give you just as much of a frightening impression, while assuring me that your extensive study in Physics will still find my actions baffling.

Here is morbid psych humor: Living with bipolar isn’t for everyone.

The letter I mentioned in my intro came and the author confided that her sister was bipolar and had recently fallen prey to suicide. I say that like it is a villain in the night. It’s not. Suicide is one of the choices you have when the shit show is too much. Please don’t make all those noises that the uptight make about how would family feel if you died. Consider what that would do to everyone who loves you, right? The say suicide is selfish. I think that if you think a blanket guilt trip makes depressed or impulse prohibited people think twice I have news for you. It doesn’t. We don’t need your pressure added to our own stress regarding our world. I’d say walk in our shoes but you won’t be able to find mine because I lost them when I was running in terror trying to escape my demons.

It’s normal to be sad when you have bipolar.

If your life has less value to you than your pain, the logical answer is death.

O.M.G. I just said death is logical!? Who the hell makes that sort of dumb comment? I’m clearly ignorant! I’m the reason people think it’s smart to kill themselves. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Come at me, bro! I have fought worse than you and won.

I’ve already tried dying. I know what it felt like. What it feels like. Sometimes you have to go all the way into your darkness to find the answers you need. It’s not giving up to take that step. Knowing our boundaries, our limits, helps us to see what we can live with and what we can’t. If everyone is telling you how sick you are and it doesn’t stop. They are telling you that you shouldn’t feel what you do but it doesn’t go away. It’s in their eyes when you look at them, they are waiting for you to break. If you feel like a stranger in the skin you walk around in and you can’t find yourself in the mirror…

It’s normal to feel more and to not be able to control what you feel when you are bipolar.

When you just can’t get things to go right. Nothing feels good. Nothing you say is being heard. Even when your life is complete shit and everyone thinks you like being in pain it’s completely understandable to want a break from it. A second of goodness. A moment of peace. How you choose to reach for that instance of release is limited to what you know about the world. It says more about who you are than any words you can’t find. There is no shame in trying to express yourself in anyway you can when you don’t know the first thing about verbalizing it. We are limited to the tools we have, and what we do with those tools depends on what we understand about utilizing them. If someone hands me and someone else pens it doesn’t mean we are going to do the same thing with it. I’m a writer, I will write. But what if the other person is illiterate?

It’s normal to get lost when you are bipolar. 

Everyone gets lost at sometime and it’s a little worse for those of us who have to fight our heads. Our navigation system is jack and new software upgrades are jenky as hell. What our minds are telling us about our environment is often not exactly what is happening. Sometimes we are that too sensitive car alarm, you know, that bitch that goes off anytime the cars around it have their doors slammed shut. Just the slightest thing sets us off. It’s not you. It’s not us. It’s the life of someone having bipolar. But trust me that freaked out look you give us when we do lose it–that is all you. Since we already feel like our lives are fishbowls that look beats us down a bit more. It makes the world a bit sharper. It’s easy to cut yourself on those looks.

It’s normal to feel like there is never enough when you are bipolar.

I’m a private introverted person by nature. By process of either mania or depression I can be the most dangerous fun you never want to have. I’ve traveled a lot on whim, and found myself in places I don’t remember going. GreyHound from Pennsylvania to California, staying with people I don’t know? Done it! So drunk I couldn’t see in Montreal? Awesome fun, puked all night and my Honors group couldn’t stand the smell of tequila on the 8 hour trip home. Meet random people on line? Yep. South Africa was fun and he were good in bed. Eloped? That was a mistake. Burned bridges in the heat of the moment? I wish I had those moments back. Wanted to mug someone to see what it is like? David wouldn’t let me. Thanks, David! Cut and loved the feeling? Hey, don’t judge me.

When everything you feel is strong, poignant, painful, or exhilarating you keep looking for something to up that level. You just want what you are feeling to stop, or go that much further. You do the damnedest things, for no real good reason but it seemed like a good idea in the moment. It’s an endless well that is never full.

It’s normal to look for a solution to problems when you are human.

How is it that someone can kill themselves? It’s actually so easy, many have no idea how simple it is. Most of us are bound to this earth by something we fear or cherish. You need to know where your limit is and have a connection to something to want to live. What makes someone who is bipolar or depressed different from the average Joe? Well first it’s the tools we have. How we know how to use them. Then it’s knowing our limit. Dude–we bipolar people are super awesome but our boundaries are sometimes a little sketchy. You have to remember we are that super sensitive car alarm that is set off by the slightest thing. It’s hard to figure out what you cherish and what you fear when you don’t understand where the line exists between them. It’s easy to hate what you love. It’s nothing to hate yourself. It’s impossible to pull it apart to make it work. It takes one second to make it go away.

It’s normal for everyone out there to have questions.

I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my thirties although I can trace my cray cray back to when I was just finding my girl parts were developing. When panic and fear are bouncing off the inside of your head it’s easy to be so overwhelmed that you can’t pinpoint where all the stimuli is coming from or how to stop it. I didn’t even know my life was chaos. I burned a little brighter than everyone else. I was more intense in relationships. I did everything at full speed and it was so great to excel–until body failure happened and then I slept for a while. Then it started all over again. I didn’t know that there were questions. I didn’t know that I was a question. I was full of them until I broke, the first breaking was terrifying. I shattered a few more times before I lost all. Each break made me more scared and more incapable of focusing on anything. I found an answer before I had an idea there were questions.

Don’t let anyone tell you how you should feel.

It will make you question yourself time and again. That little bipolar bug is always there trying to flip you one way or the other. It makes you wonder if the world is worth it. The pain will get incredible, then the pleasure will make you feel like you never felt pain. Your head and all those people who try to fill it are going to make you feel like you should be someone that won’t feel right to you most of the time. The real struggle isn’t weighing the chaos, against the people in your life. It’s not even managing your mental health care, although that is a big part of it. It’s building your tool box. Once you learn how to start building a living with bipolar, you won’t feel so much like you don’t belong in this world.

Don’t be afraid to search for something you think might not exist.

I have a long history with bad doctors, wrong diagnoses, being mis-medicated. I never believed that I had a choice. It didn’t exist. I had bipolar, it was a terminal condition–I needed to die because I couldn’t live the way I was. Being level and being numb sounded like the same thing and I didn’t want to be numb. I wanted something that was as unlikely as a unicorn. –I don’t like that analogy, I’m fairly sure that unicorns may exist. Let’s go with a panda-cat-pony, I’m positive that is unlikely. I wanted something that was as unlikely as a panda-cat-pony. I wanted to feel alive but not feel out of control. I was ready to die because there wasn’t a chance that a panda-cat-pony could exist. But then I found that there was every chance that I could make a panda-cat-pony. –okay that analogy isn’t right either.

There is no magic cure for bipolar and dying isn’t going to cure the world of it.

Hell, I’ve embraced it and it feels like I have something that most people don’t have. They may not be able to see the world as I do because they don’t have the tools that come with being bipolar. I have a special understanding of levels of the human emotion that so called normal people won’t ever feel, and that is a shame. I can identify with people who are really creative and want to live in color. People who are vulnerable and are scraping through their days. I can look into the eyes of the people that most people walk by, and acknowledge their daily fight. I can use that “feel more” side of me to experience life in HD.

There is no magic cure for being bipolar but I wouldn’t want to change being bipolar for anything.