I am Bipolar. It is the name of my disorder. It is also who I am. Even today a stigma is attached to mental illness. It should be hidden --- swept under a rug. I write this in an attempt to explain how and why this illness defines every facet of my existence.
Why do I have this disorder? My body chemistry changed when a gene from my inherited pool became operational. It took on a life of its own, spinning a web of chaos --- trapping my helpless mind.
Picture a length of string. At one end is depression … at the other, mania. In the center there is reason and clear thinking.
What is depression? A deep pit of aloneness, worthlessness and erratic, confused thoughts. Desperate for relief from this mental pain, I will scratch myself with the tip of a paper clip until blood flows. Suicidal ideation is frequent … beckoning me to die. This end of the string is a dangerous one to hold.
How do I react to manic episodes? When holding the mania end, the sense of euphoria and infallibility is overwhelming. I become reckless. Driving in excess of eighty miles an hour is common. My collection of speeding tickets backs this up. Inappropriate behavior is a biggy. An acronym used by doctors is FFFF, translated --- Find me … Feed me … Fuck me … Forget me. It is part of the game. This may shock you, but I am telling you like it is. This is not a good end of the string to hold either.
Do I enjoy the middle space? No. I am bored. Abuse of drugs and alcohol creep into the mix. I’m looking for that high and action.
How does the disorder affect my writing? When manic, writing is fun … a constant flow of positive thoughts. If depressed, my writing is dark … filled with despair. In the boring place, I write nothing. This might strike you as odd.
Some tell me lack of self-discipline, self-indulgence, not having a positive attitude and not praying for help from God causes this disorder. I think not. But this is an ongoing debate.
I will deal with and fight Bipolar Disorder every minute, hour, day and year my entire life. Having accepted this fact allows me to live with my reality as best I can.
POEMS BY SUSAN CLAY BALDWIN