There is nothing like sitting on the edge of the precipice of your mind, gazing into the darkest depths of depression. It sinks down like a well, into the very core of your being, stripping you of any sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. Feeling useless, a wasted husk of a being. Nothing you do is ever good enough and you are unable to live up to the expectations of others, feeling like a failure in all areas of life. Everything is wrong and you don’t deserve to be happy, in love, loved, liked or even breathe, let alone be alive. You are not worth it.
And the wrong word sets you off, on a black rage. Red doesn’t even enter into it any more, everything is black. Taking it out on those around you, people and things alike, because the frustration is too much to bare. Anxiety runs high, you want to rip out your hair, scream, cut yourself, break things, and run, run, run away from it all. There is no way out. There are too many things to do and not enough time to do them in. The list grows and becomes endless, until you have lists around you all the time, in the five diary’s and two calendars you keep, because you forget everything. Panic erupts in your chest and you realise that nothing feels right. Perhaps it never has. Everything is wrong, the world has been turned upside down and that’s what Bi-Polar is really. Your head’s been turned upside down and inside out.
They say there are triggers that cause these dark periods, but I fail to see any consistency with that. It seems to be a culmination of things and factors in my life. The problems I have recently had with work, a surprise visit and stay from family and an upsetting experience at a local Wetherspoons pub (not to mention the never ending comments from moronic people in the street, because I am different), all seem to manifest and build up within me, while I try to keep a level head. Try to function like a normal being. To shop, meet friends, attend appointments, work and carry on with mundane day to day activities. Even these become mammoth tasks. They well up inside of me, like lava in a volcano, ready to erupt on the closest person or thing to me.
Sometimes, I can sit on the edge of my bed, trying to decide what to wear and what to do for over two hours. Time seems to pass so quickly, while I listen to the mental chatter going on within the dark rooms of my mind. The voices in my head are always talking. Sometimes its a whisper, sometimes a scream. Lately, it has been a scream. They are so difficult to ignore, to push aside or turn off (even now, while I type this, there are voices having conversations in my head). In Yoga, this is known as “monkey chatter”. However, mine goes beyond the monkey chatter. Monkey chatter is more of a sane conversation, such as “I must remember to buy frozen peas. The cat needs to go to the vet. I must book that holiday. Don’t forget to order the camping heater……” and so on; everyday reminders of everyday mundane.
But my voices are more demanding, often to the point of standstill. Swirling round my brain like a funfair ride, spinning faster and faster, until the gaudy neon lights become one long stream of bright colour, within the blackness. Unfortunately, this time, I allowed the voices to consume me.
I couldn’t understand (and still can’t) why I was feeling the way I was. I rose from my slumber (a good nights sleep for a change) and went to have breakfast. I did want a run, but my stomach was asking me quite insistently for food. I had loads to do that day; housework, shopping, gardening, paperwork and such. But, all I could feel was the anxious irritation rising within me, sitting in my tummy and working its way up to my throat, lodging itself there, unable to speak or move. Choking me. Then, the panic set in. Everything in my mind came to a standstill. I realised that this was only going to go one way.
As I lay on my bed, listening to the thunder, watching the strobe effect of the lightning on the sheets of rain as they hit the window, I know I needed to rest. To try and still my thoughts and my mind. I become so still, tears trickling down my face. They tickle with their insistence, but they won’t stop. Not yet anyway.
Examining my behaviour, I know I was wrong, and yet I feel nothing except pain and hurt. It is the most indescribable feeling, as its almost as if someone has died, or you have lost something; perhaps the end of a relationship or a heartbreak. The only thing I seem to have lost is my mind. Regrets embrace me and hold me frozen in place.
“What have I done? What have I said?”. Often, I don’t remember, but on this day, I do.
Dinner went in the bin, horrible, terrible words were flung from my mouth at the closest person to me, my husband. Doors were slammed, and I attacked the glass chopping board (one that came with me all the way from South Africa) with the cheese grater. That is one strong chopping board, but the grater came of a little worse for wear, though still usable. However, I am missing a little skin off the palm of my hand.
This time, the physical damage was virtually non existent. I didn’t pull my hair out, or smack myself around my face (which normally bruises and hurts for a few days) and I didn’t cut. I wanted to. Oh! How I longed to feel the sting of steel in my flesh, see the crimson blood well out of the slash in the pale skin. To punish myself for the hurt I have caused throughout my entire life. To feel the sting of a slap on my bare flesh or to experience the agony of ripping out hair, all of which I deserve, for my horrendous actions and behaviour. Behaviour, which I can’t stop.
I have tried so hard. Counselling, psychologists, psychiatrists, therapies and books. None of them work. These reactions and responses are ingrained in my DNA.
What causes this terrible illness? Wikipedia defines Bi-Polar as: Bipolar disorder or bipolar affective disorder, historically known as manic-depressive disorder, is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition, and mood with or without one or more depressive episodes. The elevated moods are clinically referred to as mania or, if milder, hypomania. Individuals who experience manic episodes also commonly experience depressive episodes, or symptoms, or a mixed state in which features of both mania and depression are present at the same time. These events are usually separated by periods of “normal” mood; but, in some individuals, depression and mania may rapidly alternate, which is known as rapid cycling. Severe manic episodes can sometimes lead to such psychotic symptoms as delusions and hallucinations. The disorder has been subdivided into bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia, and other types, based on the nature and severity of mood episodes experienced; the range is often described as the bipolar spectrum. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bipolar_disorder for more information.
I do not know why I suffer from this illness on a physical level and I can present as normal for long periods of time, but I can also be a “rapid-cycler”. In other words, my mood can fluctuate between mania and depression throughout the day, let alone a week or a month or two.
I do know that my soul chose this illness, before I was born, for my soul to learn and grow. Hopefully I am. It has been a while now since I cut (over a year) and my episodes seem to last for shorter periods of time. The melancholia is always there, and underlying sadness, its cause I am unable to pinpoint. I am saddened by beautiful music, it makes me cry. A grey sky. A romantic evening. Thoughts, thoughts of death, loved ones dying, losing what I have worked so hard for. Loneliness, even though I am now married and in a loveing and stable relationship, my soul often feels alone.
I leave you with the words of Dave Mustaine from Megadeth: “If the war inside my head won’t take a day off I’ll be dead” – Sweating Bullets.