Random Musings (& Verse) - Being There

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More people these days are being diagnosed (self or otherwise) as being bi-polar. I won't debate whether or not this due to better diagnostics, but I will note it has become a punchline for some. A glib comment made at the bar.  A joke when someone is feeling hyper.

I will admit to feeling a little resentful at such comments. I have struggled with bi-polar disorder 35 years. At first I struggled on my own, distrustful of therapists who wanted to help me, self medicating with sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. Back in those days, I was 14 and angry that my mother would send me to a therapist. I had been sent to counselors and therapists since I was 6, so by the time I was 14, I was pretty hip to the jargon. I could say what I wanted them to hear, leave that session and smoke a joint.

I was officially diagnosed when I was 26, following a visit to a psychiatric hospital after a particularly difficult manic episode. My pain was finally greater than my pride. I was finally teachable, willing to work and ready to get better. All in all I am a pretty "high functional", managing to maintain a relationship for 28 years. I have made it to work and have provided for my family. When things are rough, I visit a mental health provider and get back on medication. I work through that episode and move on with my life. It all seems pretty straightforward, but it isn't.

So what is my complaint? If I am not seeking sympathy, what do I want? When I hear someone say "Oh, it's just my bi-polar", I think, 'Shit, I wish I could say that'.  You see, I am still angry. Just like I was when I was 14. I play the same game, except this time I want a pill to fix it all. My resentment at those others? It seems they got their pill.

If that seems a little glib and self serving, it is. My resentment, my anger is really a cover for something much deeper.  I have been having one of the worst years of my life dealing with my mental illness. The medication isn't helping. There has not been a quick fix and I have began to wonder if this is it. If I am going to feel this way the rest of my life.

The real problem is that I have never accepted my condition. I have fought against it every day of my life since my first manic episode when I was twelve. I still fight against it, hoping some psychiatrist will find a magic pill and it will cure me. I need to accept that while medication can help me get by, I am always going to have a piece of me that can't be fixed, just lived with. Some days I will deal with it with grace and those days where I can't, I will do the best I can. The one thing I can't do is give up. It isn't in me. It never was and never will be. My journey isn't unique, regardless of what my brain says.

I never really talk about being bi-polar. Perhaps I think it is a little to personal or a little self serving. I don't really want any sympathy. People suffer from much worse maladies. So why would I post on my blog about it? Because I think many of us suffer alone. I want to reach out to those people. By sharing our experiences, maybe we can learn to live with those parts that can be fixed.

Being Here
Some days he is a hundred miles away
Viewing himself from above
A defiant marionette straining against his strings

He drifts on the edge of this world
observing the interactions
of others in and out of his sphere

Self absorbed and self important
Insecurity masked by humor and pain
Screaming out "Why?" against a howling wind

In all the years in this place
Some things have changed and some haven't

He knows he is difficult to be around
So he hides outside of himself
Hoping this too, will pass

He floats in this place of fear and self loathing
Sick of feeling this way
fearful that this time, it won't go away

Simultaneously the center of his universe
and the smallest rock on the universes edge
Hoping to find one reason to get up each day

In all the years in this condition
All the ups have had their downs


  1. Beautiful words you've shared with the world again - thank you so very much.

    I can relate to some of what you said here. I'm not bi-polar but I do get comments from others along the lines of what you've heard - "Oh, it's just my bi-polar". Worse than that though, for me, are comments by lay-experts who question my reality with comments along the lines of "Oh.. is Rantz really xyz"... shits me off that does.

    I've lived my life - these self-appointed experts haven't but are more than happy to pontificate on the lives of others. Arsewipes, that's about the best I can come up with - no, better: useless arsewipes.

    Take care my friend - and thanks for sharing your words - I hope 2010 treats you kindly.

  2. I have waited and gathered my thoughts before posting a comment... Here it is:

    You have a rare gift of creativity and expression both written and photographic. I believe this to be heightened by an understanding of blackness, pain and depression. Art is a permanent argument between the ugly and the beautiful, the serene and the tormented. There are many examples that spring to mind, Dylan Thomas for one. I will always hold your work in high refard J. My best regards.


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