When You Suspect You’re Bipolar, What Do You Do?

Kate Farquharson
Kate Farquharson

Sometimes you will need to go outside and walk without any destination in mind besides returning to the point from which you came, the place that you want to escape, the place you aren’t sure about: why does it feel like you have to get out? Why do you search for things that are out of place? You won’t know, but you will feel certain that you have to walk.

You will feel like you need to move at times when everyone else is relaxed: the end of dinner, the hazy blissed out moment that takes place post-merriment, the car ride. You will be able to sit still but you will not be able to keep your mind still. It will keep moving. It will run off the rails and you won’t know how to get it back: you’ll think about how you could die today and then think about how you could die in eighty years and both things will feel impossible and this will feel normal because it is a constant.

You won’t know what to think.”No one knows what to think,” that is what you will think. And then you will want to think nothing.

You will imagine an “off” switch for your brain, but concretely: you will be able to see it, a vivid image, a movie frame, a color you’ve picked, a tinged ivory, and you will feel fucking weird for being able to do it, like if you told someone about how you imagine light switches flicking back and forth as you try to fall asleep at night to no avail, they might respond with “huh.” A blank stare. A nothing, a “that’s weird. I guess—” and then an attempt to relate something else that isn’t it at all, because you know what it is.

You will know that you are crazy, but not that crazy — not crazy enough to seek out help, to actively need it.

You will feel like you don’t need anything or anyone. You will go through weeks of sleeping three to four hours a night for four to five days at a time and you will know it isn’t healthy but you will know that it is better than the alternative.

You will favor crazy over alternatives, you will accept scatterbrained if it means avoiding the fall out.

You will fall out. You will be exhausted and then you will sleep for twelve hours one night and you will not talk to anyone and all of your friends that you talk to constantly — because you are social, that’s never been a problem, and your friends will not see it as one — they will ask if there is something wrong and you will say “nothing more than the usual!” With a joke, you will joke and you will laugh, you will follow the seriousness of your craziness with a sharp wit and everyone will accept it because that is who you are: you’re crazy.

You will begin to whisper in your own mind a truth: that it would be a lot easier to be crazy for a period of time, but this is not a phase. This is not crazy.

You will realize this is who you are.

Then you’ll feel dull, with weeks of feeling relatively nothing. No sex, no drinking, maybe a beer here or there, maybe a date, but really nothing besides nothing itself: bland food, binge watching, bland conversations, boring interactions that make you want to grab someone and ask if anything is interesting anymore.

“Is it just me?”

But you will not ask because you will think that you know the answer: that it is just you, that it has always been you, that you are the dark center of the world around you and you are out of place and that if anyone finds out they will think you are dramatic and they won’t want that around, who would?

You’ll feel depressed.

You’ll feel restless.

You’ll feel nothing.

You’ll feel everything. You will feel indefinitely until you think that there is nothing left to feel and you’ve reached peak bleak and even then you will laugh—viscerally, a powerful cackle that spills over and stains everything, the kind of guffaw that you can recognize in a crowd, the laugh that startles everyone, even you—and you will wonder if it will always be this way.

Nothing will change with a miraculous event. There will be no psych ward, there will be no great save, there will only be the passing of time and your slow shift into an active role in your own life.

You will have an intervention with yourself and you will have to have it every day.

Every day you will have to feel like you need to keep moving or not move at all and you will have to stop to intervene between the polarities: manic and depressive, those two identities edited and renamed and clarified by science but never forgotten by you.

You will calm one, you will push hair out of its eyes and hold it, like you are sure. You will rouse the other, you will rip the covers off and open the blinds.

Sometimes you will feel like you need to walk, and you will ask both parts of yourself to walk with you, and you will move towards something: together, one person, all parts accounted for, a destination in mind. Towards something. TC mark

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Image Credit: Kate Farquharson

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