My Bipolar Disorder: Inside the Mind of a ‘Rapid Cycler’

Today I dashed through every mood on that annoying poster: “How am I feeling today?” If you are fortunate enough to have avoided that grading mood guide, it features at least 40 different line illustrated faces depicting a range of moods that one might identify with on any given day.  If they would kindly add one more on the bottom that said “all of the above” they’d  be including those of us who constantly live in, (well– survive in) either the ‘mixed state.’ or ‘rapid cycling’ or both.’ While, this is hideous and exhausting the general “mixed state” is a common symptom of the disorder.  I have Bipolar 1, with rapid cycling, and mixed episodes. Rapid cycling, is that the mood changes more often. Mixed states, are experiencing both elements of depression and mania, at the same time. Some say it’s where depression and mania engage in a head on collision. It is also defined as “agitated depression” or “dysphoric mania.”  It’s also a concept in quantum statistical mechanics, so nobody has a clue what it really is!

Ever since my first diagnosis in 1989, during a two month stay in a lock-down nut ward, it became evident, even to my  fellow crazies, that I belonged in the no-man’s land

For us full-time ‘mixed’ who, on a daily basis, cycle through emotional gears as if we were going for a record run at the Tour de France.  The bummer is that the thrill of hypomania and the front end of mania, might last only thirty minutes before irritability and absolute intolerance hijack the cock pit.  While it’s never boring to be strapped into this full-throttle ride on the fastest roller coaster in the universe, I get really sick of the way it hangs out by my bed–daring me, “just see if you can get through today’s schedule without someone mumbling under their breath “Is that the same person who walked in here an hour ago?”

While i  have met  quite a few others who have bipolar 1, with rapid cycling and mixed episodes over my  six-plus hospitalizations–but it remains a very lonely place. Whether or not we can relate with each other, depends on our current location on the teeter-totter. I may be riding a wave of mania just when they dip into hopelessness. Truthfully, it is the unpredictable shifts that do the most damage in my life. As my former husband said, “I never know who I’m coming home to.”

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