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Do I Look Crazy?

Monday, March 12, 2012

A few days ago my daughter, A Bipolar Princess, said someone had written her and asked what it was like having bipolar, especially since she didn't "look crazy."

It got me to wondering exactly what kind of image we that are affected with this disorder have. Take a look at this list. How many of the people on it "look crazy?" Well maybe a few of them are pretty well known for their "craziness." But I'm willing to bet that there are also a lot of names on the list that you would have never guessed suffered from Bipolar Disorder.

When I was diagnosed it really surprised me. I thought I was only having an unusually hard time after losing my parents, my grandson, and experiencing other traumatic events during a very short period of time. It took the trauma from all of that, and more, to bring my disorder into the light.

Bipolar is usually characterized as having dramatic and unpredictable mood swings. I can look back on my life and see it now. I can trace it back to about my early teens. I remember when I was about 13 I tried to ask for help. I was depressed, felt worthless and unwanted. Some of that was from parents that did the best they could, but really had no idea how to raise kids and some of it was because of my disorder. Anyway, I circled named of psychiatrists in the phone book. I remember thinking maybe my parents would see it and some how magically I would be taken care of, that they would realize I needed help, that I needed them to care. 

My dad saw the circles. He looked at me one night when the family was all together and said, "It looks like someone is trying to make us think they're crazy. What a crock of shit." I was devastated. In my family we didn't talk to our parents, they didn't talk to us. It was the only way I could think of to ask for help without talking and it was shot down. So if my parents didn't care, why should I? Don't get me wrong, my parents loved us, they were just neglectful, emotionally unavailable parents when my brothers and I were young. We had everything we needed physically, but nothing we needed emotionally.

In the family I was the one that was generally thought of as the one with poor judgement and impulsive behavior, not someone that had a condition that needed treatment. I was the one with "attention seeking behavior." Well I wonder why? I got very little attention from my parents and I, like all kids, needed it. I still have the behavior, or so I'm told, and being damn near 50 it's unlikely it's going to change.

There were dramatic ups and downs and poor judgements before, and even after, I was diagnosed. I didn't look crazy, I was just the one with the hot temper and impulsive ways. It took all of the trauma I mentioned earlier to bring everything to the surface.

I tried to numb the traumatic feelings by self medicating and running from reality. On the night that lead to my diagnosis I had taken four, only four, ambien. I wasn't trying to kill myself, I only wanted the noise to stop. I wanted to sleep. But in my hypnotic state I cut my arms. I don't remember it very well, it's all foggy and in pieces. I only cut them enough to see blood. Somehow the physical pain took away the emotional pain which was much more severe.

That night was the beginning of months of instability. My daughter was calling my friends constantly to get them to talk me through things, to help distract me from the realities of the depths of the disorder. But no one that wasn't in my very tight circle had a clue I had a serious problem.

For me, un-medicated bipolar, and the months just after diagnosis,  was like walking a tight rope. I never knew which way I would fall or if I could stay the course. It was exciting and fun and then in a flash it was dark and horrifying, not only for me, but for my family as well.

Today is a much different story. My medicinal cocktail is spot on and for the most part I'm doing better than I ever have. I've been told that I promote the usage of medications. Hell, freaking yes I do and I will continue to do so. I might not be here without them, my daughter might not be here without them. So if promoting the usage of medication is what it takes, that's what I'll do.

After I was diagnosed I made the decision that I would grab the tiger by the tail and I would win, that can't happen without medication.  I've slipped a few times, but I'm on the upswing. Being controlled by bipolar isn't an option for me. I'm going to control it, I'm going to kick it's ass the best I can. I'm going to help make people aware that we're not "crazy," we're humans with a very treatable condition. If I'm not mistaken there's not one person out there that doesn't have a demon or two to fight.

I've been told that riding a motorcycle and getting tattoos are "attention seeking, bipolar behaviors." Maybe they are, or maybe they're not. Maybe it's just me. I think I'll take me just as I am....flaws, motorcycles, tattoos, medications and all.

If you have a friend or family member with the disorder, educate yourself about it. Get to know what you can, be supportive, not judgemental. After all, what's your demon?

21 comments:

YeamieWaffles March 12, 2012 at 7:18 AM  

I can relate to so much of this Diva, it's kind of weird, it really is. Even the things about realising you were different and having parents who weren't cruel or who didn't love you but just were never there on an emotional level, something every child needs.

I don't think being bipolar is crazy either, just different. You certainly don't look crazy at least haha!

Just Two Chicks March 12, 2012 at 8:54 AM  

I'm a huge proponent of medication... you know this. I'm not sure you saw my post about this: Mental Illness and Sunsets, but in it I talked about how I just didn't see Bipolar as a mental illness. I mean, I know it is, but crazy is what I grew up with, and it wasn't depression, bipolar, or anxiety disorder. Hell, maybe it was all of it mixed with schizophrenia, I don't know.

It's interesting to me that you had to have major loss in your life before your diagnosis, and your daughter too had to suffer major loss. So loss served as a huge trigger...

I've really been struggling with depression lately, and I hate it, because I have no explanation for it, which I feel I need. The wife doesn't want me medicated for whatever reasons, but it makes me extremely irritable. Seriously... The other night, I told someone that I was going to kick her ass!!! ME!!! I'm not confrontational at all, but she said something that made me snap. This is someone we hang around simply because she's a friend of a friend, I don't really like her, but still!! The wife's mouth dropped. I just can't believe I did that. I assume that's me NOT self medicating, and just getting more wound up by the moment. :(

Oh and by the way, people stereotype every thing, you know this. People tell us all the time that we don't look gay! LOL

angel shrout March 12, 2012 at 9:49 AM  

GRRR on the ones who think that medication is unnecessary. Yes some people learn to control it as they get farther into it. But MANY will tell you they could not have gotten there had it not been for using Medications in the beginning. As a mom to a bipolar and a Christian I have seen both sides and have learned to argue with both sides. Yes I believe that God can heal, but I also know that God uses the foolish to confound the wise. This is a lesson He can use for His glory, even on medication. Yes he heals but he also told Luke, who was a doctor in that age to heal himself. God gave doctors wisdom for a reason, He gave the ability to manufacture medication for a reason. I have learned so much from bipolar, yes it's rages in my son would suggest demons. Yes I have laid hands on him in the midst of a black rage and called out the evil that it contains and refused to speak to it, asking only for my son. Yes it has worked on occasion. Praying for peace to enter his mind and his soul. Knowing those rages are a devastating on him when he is back to himself as they are to us who survive through them. I also know that if I didn't have God to fall back on I would have already gone insane with his swings. You do you momma.. funny I know a lot of NON BIPOLARS who rides motorcycles and have tattoos.. now what..I lvoe you and Princess so much.. maybe because we are walking the same path at times..

Jill of All Trades March 12, 2012 at 12:00 PM  

Ah jeez, you just keep wanting me to say you're great, yeah? Fine then: You. Are. GREAT. I can see how, illness and all, you've managed to raise so many children (more than the 8 official count I'm sure). You have this amazing power to turn your experience into wisdom without being dogmatic, rhetorical, or naive. I don't know what more I can say about this post without going word for word: the tightrope, the parents (F***ck the PARENTS!!), the judgement, and even the medication part (after reading so many stories from people on meds-I'm mean you did shit yourself-I'm thinking I'm just not in a position to deal with that variable-if in fact I need it, which I'm not totally sure I do....)but still your words guide me to know there is another way to see it. See? I just can't even begin, cause then I couldn't end, except by saying: You. Are. Great!!! Thank you.

Mad Mind March 12, 2012 at 1:27 PM  

There is a reason why I believe the old saying, "Never judge a book by its cover". This is what makes us unique and interesting as individuals.

I think you've done a great job with your family and with your bipolar. I think you're awesome!

Recovering Church Lady March 12, 2012 at 1:29 PM  

"I've been told that riding a motorcycle and getting tattoos are "attention seeking, bipolar behaviors.""
...Ok, then call me attention seeking!

Susie March 12, 2012 at 3:33 PM  

My husband feels exactly the same about his depression and the medication he'll need for the rest of his life. Though he jokes and says he takes a pill to deal with the rest of us crazy people, he knows that without it his depression will control him and make everyone in this family (him included) miserable.

He also says it's no different than a diabetic who needs insulin. There's a chemical his body doesn't make enough of/process properly, so he's got to get it from the local pharmacy.

Monkey Man March 12, 2012 at 3:33 PM  

If attention seeking behavior is bipolar, then everyone I have ever met is bipolar. People just love to slap labels on others. Idiots. Oooops, that's a label.

The Bipolar Diva March 12, 2012 at 5:07 PM  

yeamie;

haha, thanks. I don't think I look crazy, but really, what is crazy? Before I was diagnosed I had a misconception about people with bipolar. I guess because only the really bad cases are publicized.

The Bipolar Diva March 12, 2012 at 5:07 PM  

two chicks;

You're GAY? OMG! lol

The Bipolar Diva March 12, 2012 at 5:10 PM  

Jill;

Thank you! Yes, my medications are what keep me level and able to function somewhat "typically." I won't say normal, because really, what's normal? The judgement really gets to me because it's usually from people that really don't know a lot about my life, or they think I tell too much about my life and am being dramatic. pfht...whatev...lol

The Bipolar Diva March 12, 2012 at 5:11 PM  

Mad Mind,

Unique, I like unique!

The Bipolar Diva March 12, 2012 at 5:12 PM  

RCL, that's funny. I guess you ARE an attention seeker too! LOL! We're just us and I love us!

The Bipolar Diva March 12, 2012 at 5:13 PM  

Susie, I've been told I'm too reliant on my medication, but at least I know I need it to stay safe and on the radar instead of flying beneath it and hiding.

The Bipolar Diva March 12, 2012 at 5:14 PM  

Monkey Man, tisk, tisk...labling people! Well I agree with you anyway :)

Holly March 15, 2012 at 8:46 AM  

I just want to say "AMEN!" LOL!! Thanks for sharing. I look at it like diabetes and the meds is what keeps us better balanced. It actually pisses me off when people go off about the meds. They are SO CLUELESS!! Mine keep my swings from swinging to such extremes... therefore, I am still here. (Like you and Carly.) I tried to go off after a so-called "friend" gave me all kinds of shit about it... It was nearly the death of me and I will NEVER try that again and I even feel angry towards that friend and avoid her now. At any rate, I think we're in some pretty amazing company looking at your list. (((HUGS)))

Rob-bear March 20, 2012 at 2:33 AM  

No, you don't look crazy, even if you find things are a little weird. Or more than "a little."

I need my meds, too; without then, I wouldn't be able to function, mentally. They are part of what keeps me going.

Blessings and Bear hugs, Ms. Diva.

Ms Batman March 24, 2012 at 9:04 AM  

My mother still buys into the bipolar=mental illness=crazy school of thought and therefore my disorder is a taboo topic that we never discuss. She just doesn't understand why I can't put on happy music and 'get over it'
Thank you for writing this. While I try very hard to hide the 'crazy' from the world, there is still the voice inside that says 'You know you're flawed, you're broken, you're crazy and they will see it soon enough."
It's difficult that nobody really seems to 'get it' or understand it, or even try. They just know that when I'm 'good' I'm great to be around, and when I'm not, I'm crazy and they don't want to deal with it.

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