Thursday, 5 March 2009

Will The Real BipolarFella Stand Up.

I am not talking about the many fakes on Twitter. I would have no reason not to be me. I am talking of the identity crisis that many bipolar people suffer. I am only speaking for myself here.

I used to be a very quiet and shy lad. It didn't change much in my twenties. My university period was much more enjoyable but I was happiest in my immediate circle of friends. I was still basically shy. I went to work in Saudi Arabia in 1982. I was a lot happier but I wouldn't say I lost the shyness.

My bipolar disorder raised its ugly head in November of 1982. I didn't know what it was until April of 1985. My personality had changed but I was mostly around new people. They had no preconceptions of my personality. People do not feel comfortable when someone changes for no apparent reason. Reactions from friends and family were always most unaccepting.

In hypomania and mania, my behaviour was different to say the least. I was usually in my own little world but I decended on friends occasionally. This was most stressful but I was usually too aware of the problems I caused. I used to leave unannounced. It proved impossible to mend bridges after a manic episode and I did try my hardest.

Between bouts of mania, there were occasional depressions when I would lock myself away. I was fortunate not to suffer too many depressions. The one I had was quite enough. Eventually after a mania, I would return to something approaching normal. "Normal" was not what it had been. I had gained a new found confidence. People who knew me were suspicious of this change and sometimes backed off. I didn't know myself sometimes and unless I get some sort of good feedback, I can begin to doubt myself. What am I like ???

For example I went on a group holiday in 2007 with about 30 total strangers. By the first evening, we were getting on famously. I had no doubts about who I was and I had one of the best holidays ever.

I still feel that need to be validated in order to be ok with myself. I have recently been hypomanic for long periods and the lines are blurred. I start doubting myself. I am still creative and quite active but I feel reasonably well. My sleep is messed up and exhaustion plays tricks sometimes. I can feel a little depressed or sad and it feels real.

I don't know whether I will ever feel totally comfortable in my skin. Being reclusive helps in a way because most of my contact is with new friends on the computer.


  1. I am SO moved by your almost ruthless honesty and my heart goes out to you for having burned bridges with friends. The same has happened to me in the past and however hard I try, I still hurt so badly that I've hurt them so badly.

    I don't have the radical highs and lows that you have and I wouldn't be without my highs because they're the bits that give vent to any creativity that I may have. (I'm NOT so keen on almost never sleeping when they occur). The lows are so very much harder ... I've just emerged from one that lasted nearly six weeks and it's as if a totally opaque black curtain descends around me and black is the only thing I can see or feel. I've learned to stick with it because I'm far, far worse when I attempt to push it away. This last bout was particularly frightening as for the first time ever I became almost agoraphobic which isn't convenient with an 11 year old son to take care of.

    I truly believe that we have to keep talking about bipolar - and, indeed, all sort of mental illness. And I thank you for being brave enough to do just that.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Karen. I could feel your anguish. My one really bad depression lasted several months and I suffered rapid mood swings towards the end. This led to a suicide attempt because of the absolute frustration. I got back on meds, got a job offer and returned to LA within weeks. My resilience amazes me.


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