My Life

Living The Bipolar Life

The dog’s barking was getting louder as the morning wore on and came to a close. It was now noon and I was already physically exhausted. My mind had been racing for hours as I sat in front of my bright computer screen behind my desk, upstairs in our townhouse that I used as an office. The plan I had been mulling over in my head for hours was quite simple really, I’d just need a dozen or so 2×4’s and a bunch of 2 and a half-inch screws. I already had the tools and had plenty of room in the garage to work, and the most important part, when the garage door was closed – no one could see what I was doing.

The plan was simple. I’d drive my SUV into the garage, shut the door behind me and use the 2×4’s to box myself in by using them to block the door leading into the townhouse and the garage door, so when someone finally came looking for me it wouldn’t be easy to get me out. Then I’d start the engine and the carbon monoxide would slowing lull me to sleep. I knew every single detail and I hadn’t done a thing. I knew every ridge on the screws, I knew exactly how many seconds it would take for each screw to go into the wood – I could hear the drill even. I knew the sound the screws would make as they cut into the wood, and could see the saw dust cloud up into the air after each hole was punched. I pictured the screws entering through the wood and I knew that every single screw head had to be flush a certain way into the wood, and I knew that it would take me some time to make sure that they were all drilled the same. I could smell the fresh wood, I could feel the texture of the wood in my hands, I knew the color, the sound the screws would make as I screwed each one of them individually through the drywall and into the studs behind the wall. I knew every single detail because I had been playing them over and over in my head for hours, and my mind was racing so fast that my body just couldn’t keep up any more and I could barely move.

happy

This is called mania – welcome to my life.

 

Yesterday one of the greatest comedians who has ever lived hung himself and committed suicide after going through what was described as chronic depression. Various reports have suggested that he also suffered from bi-polar disorder, but I don’t think he was ever diagnosed, even though he said that whenever he performed he was always in a manic state. Think about Robin Williams as he performed. Constantly moving, talking so fast you can barely understand him, laughing hysterically at his own jokes (probably because he had just made them up from his rapid cycling) – this is all one form of mania. Now being Bi-Polar 1 myself and knowing what I go through on a daily basis, I know exactly how Robin William was feeling, the decisions he was debating in his head and the exhausting mental strain that goes along with having this disease, and even though I can’t say that I blame him for his decision, I certainly don’t condone it, but I do understand.

Most of the people who do not understand mental illness, or simply refuse to understand it, like to judge the people who commit suicide calling them weak or selfish, and under certain circumstances I’d agree, but sometimes there are just some nightmares that no matter how hard you try, never go away and with each passing minute and every breath you manage to take, the pain inside becomes so unbearable you lose the will to live. Modern medicine only goes so far because even if you find a drug that helps control your rapid cycling, depression or mania, your body will eventually get used to it, and the medicine will become less effective, so keeping yourself balanced while being bi-polar is a very stressful, high maintenance, and exhausting job. Over the last 10 years I’ve been on just about every medicine they use to treat this disease and maybe 20% of them have had some effect, so to say that I’ve had more than my share of rough periods in my life; would be a huge understatement. Also, they don’t even have many medicines specifically designed for the bi-polar disease, so most of the medications they give you are generally designed for people with seizures or some other ailments that also just happen to help curb some people’s moods that are suffering from the bi-polar disorder. So we are basically nothing more than lab rats searching for a certain type of cheese that may never even exist. Some people just get painted into a corner and see no other way out so to escape their pain and they take their own life. So if you are one of those people who think it’s selfish or weak – what exactly gives you the right to judge?

I don’t think Id ever commit suicide, even though my mania has made me play it out in my head time and time again. One of the reasons I’d never succumb to it is the fact that I have a very good support system around me to help keep me grounded that know exactly how to handle me and all the signs to look for when I start to slip into a manic state. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t have that advantage, especially those with the disease that feel ashamed and won’t talk with people about it. If you are one of those people, think of the disease as a gift, don’t allow it to define you, you define it. You are unique and every ability that you have will get stronger and you’ll find that once you embrace the disease instead of shunning away from it, you will find that everything in your life that seemed too hard to life with, will get easier and your days will become brighter.

Trust me, so far I’m a survivor.

Thank you to my beautiful and wonderful wife Carrie Cavender for being my rock and soul mate, with whom out I wouldn’t be the husband and father that I am today.

band andx father that I am today.

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7 comments
Terri Foster
Terri Foster

Thanks for sharing. It helps to have people who pay attention.

Gillian Stover
Gillian Stover

I know how you feel, I am not bipolar but I do battle depression. I have had the same type of suicidal thoughts as you. The only thing that has stopped me has been thinking of the pain it would cause my children. I am sure that is probably what stopped Mr. Williams...until the pain got too much. I cannot condemn him...we all try so hard and do the best we can. I do know when I found out about his death I was shattered and frightened. He was only a year older than I...

Cathy Creswell
Cathy Creswell

I also battle the demon. I remember seeing Robin playing Mork in the mid 70's. I was just a teen, but I KNEW from my own experience that being that frantically funny and energetic (I didn't know mania) has a down side. Afterward, you are drained, then the self criticizing thoughts come, "Oh, why did I do THAT? How embarrassing!" You go over everything you've said and done recently, judging yourself for any shame you should feel. That is the thought voices that drive one to suicide. Up and down, up and down again. Oh, to have just ONE mood, even, calm, clear and responsible. It's a dream, but elusive. When I heard that he died from asphyxiation and had superficial cuts on his wrists I KNEW what he had done, it played out like a movie in my mind. He tried to cut his wrists, but the knife was too dull. So, he took off his belt......... Oh, God, Robin. You went where I have thought about going a thousand times. The desire to live saves you at the last moment, except for him, it didn't. RIP, beloved soul.

Jillian David
Jillian David

I don't know if you had gotten a message I recently sent you praising your openness about you bipolar disorder but once again, thank you. -mom of a bipolar son

Kim Miller
Kim Miller

Thank you so much for sharing this...your honesty is a breath of fresh air.

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