I just became aware of this hashtag and I’d like to give a shot at it. I have Bipolar Affective Disorder Type I. I’ve written extensively about my experiences with living with Bipolar. I do not wish to rehash any of that. Instead, I will describe what my bipolar literally feels like.
When I’m manic, I experience this. I get this rush of thoughts and ideas like seeds in the wind and most of them never take root. It can stop me from sleeping and affect my working relationships. It can be overwhelming. One doc thought I was a cocaine addict.
I get an inflated sense of myself and my capabilities. I feel that I can accomplish anything. I take on large projects. I think that I have abilities that I don’t have. I’ve even believed that I had supernatural powers. It feels good. And the interesting thing is that I’ve accomplished parts of big things. I have gained skills and accomplished significant chunks of big projects. I wrote 50K words of a novel. It is still some of my best writing. I proposed a 1.5 million dollar software project to the FAA and delivered the first two modules before I quit and took another job. There are bad parts. I live under the delusion that everyone’s eyes are on me and so I get overly emotional when I fail.
Hypersexuality feels amazing. I’m not gonna lie. It never quits. Everything becomes sexual. You drip sexuality. It’s a euphoria to beat all euphoria. It appeals to the baser impulses of your potential mates. I become super confident with women. We all have those impulses, but when you’re hypersexual, impulses can become actions very quickly.
Hyperactive Speech (Pressured Speech)
This is my most common symptom. It is a nuisance. It is what happens when I talk with racing thoughts. I speak very rapidly. I start thoughts, interrupt myself and start a new thought. I try to explain, but I can’t seem to get my point across. I get excited about a topic and I run my mouth about it until people get restless, bored, or uncomfortable. It’s a very intense kind of speech. I sometimes say inappropriate or inconsiderate things.
Low Impulse Control/ Low Inhibitions
This is dangerous. We all have impulses that we should or shouldn’t act on. When you lose the ability to stop them, you can either be an extraordinarily good person or an extraordinarily bad person. Let’s say I see a stranger crying. My impulse is to hug and so without thinking I do it; whereas, given the ability to think first I might just walk on by. Let’s say I’m doing business, and I get an impulse to ask for more money. I do it without thinking of the consequences. And I get more money. These are good things…depending on how they turn out. But let’s say I’m married and at a concert by myself and my eyes meet a woman’s eyes. My impulse is to kiss her. I do it without thinking. Let’s say I’m at a company party, and I tell the boss his wife is hot. We all think these things, but that doesn’t mean we should do these things.
Delusions fit in with so many other symptoms. It’s a shifting reality which allows me to behave in a way that makes sense in the delusion but which doesn’t make sense in the true reality. I might build a delusion that my wife is neglectful, controlling, frigid, and a total bitch. From that delusion, I might seek the attention and sympathies of another woman. I only see my folly when the episode is over and the damage is done.
This is connected with delusional. When my delusion involves a conspiracy of some sort I become intensely worried about it. It feels as if my nightmares are coming true. When I cheated on my wife during a major manic episode, I believed firmly that she had stood up in church and announced what I had done when in reality, she had only told a select few family and friends so that she could receive support. To this day, very few people know about it. In my paranoia and psychosis, I addressed the issue to the entire church on a Facebook discussion group. People were very confused..
This is when the delusion becomes a total disconnect from reality. This is delusional and paranoia to the extreme. I imagine something so powerfully that it seems like reality, and I act as if it is reality which can be dangerous and destructive. One of the worst moments of my life was me believing that the world knew all of the terrible details of my affairs and that my wife was a total bitch and that my reputation was ruined. I wrote raving emails to her parents. I raved on Facebook. I got a call at 2am from a concerned friend. I grabbed a bottle of whiskey and a pack of cigarettes and sat on my curb and sobbed into the phone. I shared my delusional view of my wife to everyone who asked what was going on.
I’ve heard far worse, but it was enough a break from reality to be a psychotic break. My emotions were at a psychotic level as well.
This is odd to me. This is not the same as insomnia. This is when you can function on 2 or 3 hours of sleep. I sleep, but then I wake up at 2:30 am and start doing stuff, not because I can’t sleep, but because I want to be productive. I feel no sense of fatigue from sleeplessness. I don’t know exactly how this is possible. When I’m not super manic, loss of sleep is terrible.
Creativity is a happy biproduct of bipolar. I get great ideas. I produce some of my best artistic projects. The problem is that I can be delusional about it. I can see my skills and ideas as greater than they actually are. I can also not be making any sense at all.
My depression is mild and infrequent, but it is still a problem. I get very irritable. I don’t want to do anything but be depressed. I become nostalgic to the point of suffering. I wallow in it. In a way, I enjoy it. I get down in it with music and movies and just live there. My depression rarely involves suicidal thoughts. It’s not painful the way it is with others. It is a lowering of mood which feels like a sort of intoxication.
There are other issues that arise from time to time, but these are the most pronounced. And they don’t just come one by one. They come all mixed together which makes them worse. Combine hypersexuality with low inhibitions and grandiosity and you have a formula for infidelity, for instance. What bipolar feels like is important to talk about, but what’s more important is what I do it about it. How do I pick up the pieces of destruction? How do I get level again?