…and this is what bipolar cycling is like…

I have a confession, I’m messed up to the nth at the moment and I am refusing to contact my psychiatrist to adjust my meds. That means I’m hurting myself. I’m not doing it in a way people will see, I just get to own this as a fact.

A large part of me wants to keep doing it because meds suck ass. The side effects are gnarly and most of the time it’s trading one feeling for another. Example: mania/hypomania is treated with a mood stabilizer that usually makes me feel tired all the freaking time. I like being able to commit to something and function well enough to do it. When I’m tired and I feel like my life is being sucked out of me by the universe; I loathe the idea of being drugged lazy.
My present solution to this quagmire is to be an obstinate cow and choose to cycle rather than get level and deal.

What the hell is cycling?

It’s that stupid stereotype behavior that too many people think describes bipolar disorder as a whole.
Right now I have mood swings that have me feeling fantastic and motivated at lunch time but as if my soul is swelling my chest and carving out my heart a few hours later. This flip flopping isn’t indicative of what being bipolar is like for me most days. The idea that bipolar is a vicious back and forth is most impressive to the general population because it makes more sense than the reality. It’s why so many think that everyone with mood imbalance is a caricature of psychosis.

Bipolar means moody and angry.

Mood is one small feature of cycling or shifting mental health for me. For us–I mean all people cool enough to to be bipolar. Bipolar disorder affects cognition (how you perceive things), energy, behavior, and the ability to cope day to day. Many of the things that create or exacerbate the condition are called triggers; when they go off they can unsettle us, like a gun going off creates the pop noise and then a ringing in one’s ears. The reaction from a trigger can be an echo of an initial uneasiness that starts setting off silent alarms.

The thing is that we don’t always need a trigger, sometimes the problem is hormonal and chemical. If you wore a shirt and the tag nagged at you all the time you could just snip that tag off, problem solved. But the agitation and frustration we feel can be consuming. Devastatingly crippling even. There aren’t scissors sharp enough to cut off the ripples of a trigger–emotion ones or chemical ones. Those ripples start mental waves that become cycling.

What is wrong with you that makes you bipolar?

There are so many things wrong with me that the list is endless. I like bad movies, have to sit in a seat ending in 3,6, or 9 when we go to the theater, and I add hot sauce to nearly everything I eat. Maybe those things are more annoying than wrong, yet still quirky enough to to become a pain in the ass when there are no seats in the theater that end in 3,6, or 9.

There is nothing wrong about me that makes me bipolar however. I am bipolar for the same reason I have blue eyes. I had a genetic predisposition that my dividing cells prefered to create me this was as I was cooking in my mommy’s belly oven. I’ve had some obstacles in developing a good relationship with the world due to that predisposition. This has lead me down some shifty paths which compounded the issue by piling baggage on it. Without anything to level me out I can’t function well enough to get a clear picture of what is happening day to day. Mental health sometimes means that you get preoccupied with how you feel in the moment and it’s hard to see beyond that.
Really that can be said about everyone though so don’t prescribe that description to mood disorders.

Bipolar people are freaking crazy.

That is an all out lie. Crazy is an overused term that peeps have contributed to all kids of situations: exes, concerts, hair styles, and the taste of colorful cocktails. Crazy means that there are cracks in something making it abnormal. Bipolar isn’t so much abnormal as it is different–even though we may feel like we are cracking. I’m normal for someone with bipolar and there is nothing crazy about that.

A better term of description for bipolar people is trapped. We have a lot of options for how we handle our circumstances but bipolar itself is like a solid state. I mean that because our turmoil isn’t rooted in an outward influence that damages us; it’s an internal battle that often times has an effect on our surroundings. Bipolar is the ultimate negative feedback loop; crap in, crap out, rinse, and repeat. Swimming in mud is easier to escape than being trapped in one’s shifting mind.

But an episode or cycling is manageable.

Why won’t you fix it if you can?

I already said that meds blow chunks. The truth is that I have to be on them. Me sans pharmaceuticals is a nightmare for everyone. Most people have a “natural state” and mine is chaos: also known as manic. David, my husband, has witnessed years of me pulling the sky down and quaking the lives of all my near and dear. He’s told me on several occasions that stopping meds is a deal breaker. I take his words with a lot of gravity because we have been together for 16 years you don’t threaten without good reason.
Pills are a teeter totter situation. Complete balance is near impossible and the side effects feel terrible. Sometimes times is a better fix than adding a higher or lower dose for short term.

So meds don’t work.


Meds work for those that need them and take them as prescribed. Psych meds need to be prescribed by a psychiatrist, not by a random doctor whose specialization is in something other than mental health. Asking your GP for a mood stabilizer is as risky as asking your neighbor for one. You wouldn’t ask a pet sitter to take over veterinary care of your pet even if they may have a great background in pet care.

The mind is an amazing place that doesn’t need the uninformed playing about inside it. I had some pretty horrible doctors in the past that I referred to as drug dealers. I went in they asked me a few questions they gave me a refill or an adjustment and I didn’t see them for a few months. These psychiatrists weren’t good at their own game. It took almost 20 years to find an amazing doctor and he asks a lot of questions. He never tosses scripts at me. The meds I take work because he is super interested in making sure they are correct for me–when I don’t fight the cure.

Why are you being stupid?

I don’t have a good reason but I also don’t advise other people to follow my poor example. You can bandy into this a large portion of ego and a dose of anger. I need a little time to get tired of what is happening and make the right choice to do what will be most beneficial to me. That right there might be the one thing someone dealing with any of the array of bipolar symptoms we are graced with; we have to decide when to help ourselves and be okay with what comes with it. Even if it means I have to trade this shitty despair and fantastic moxie for the side effect of fatigue.

Although… it might just be that I need a few days of decent sleep, decent food, and good thoughts to get my feet under me.