Seeing Bipolar from the Other Side

Volcano

I took a part-time job a few evenings a week. Partly to make up a small income gap (that is quickly closing, thankfully) and partly because I never even knew what day of the week it was. It adds a little more structure and time constraints to my week. I do much better when I know I have to have things done by a certain time. Anyway…

There’s a guy at work who has one of the most severe cases of bipolar I’ve ever seen… except for in the mirror. It’s fascinating watching it from the outside. Our coworkers say the exact same things about him that mine used to say about me. “He’s a really nice guy, but…” Then the side-eye thing happens before they finish the sentence.

I know exactly how to deal with him. I don’t deal with him. Whenever he gets furious, I leave him alone. As soon as he vents about something, it passes. If he holds it in, the events and conversations that led up to whatever triggered the anger play on a loop in his head along with future conversations and confrontations that would resolve it. That causes more anger, loss of sleep, and more looped thoughts. It’s horrible and can only be remedied by letting it out. Then it’s gone, the cycle is broken and life returns to normal… for him, not necessarily for the people in the path of the anger. When he snaps at me, I let it roll off my back. Within seconds, he’s moved past it and will never think about it again, so I don’t either.

I know these things because they are me.

I usually don’t ask people directly about their ‘issues.’ With him, I couldn’t help it. He said that his doctor had put him on Prozac (the absolute WRONG meds for bipolar) and his personality disappeared, so he stopped taking it. I was prescribed an anti-anxiety med for a little while that did the same thing, so I definitely get it.

It was kind of nice discussing it with someone who has as acute a case as I do. I went on anti-convulsive drugs a couple of years ago that pretty much evened everything out and I don’t admit it often, the only thing I miss is the ever-present rage.

That makes me sound like a horrible person, but when you’re so used to having a single, underlying emotion for thirty years and it dissipates, a lot of adjusting has to happen. It was nice talking to someone else who knew the almost comfort of having a center of roiling lava at his core.

wildcats

Not this kind of wildcat…

When ‘normal’ people go to their happy place in their head, I always hear about beaches, hammocks on mountains, and other things. I would relax back into a hot pool of rage that raised my heart rate and made me feel invincible. It reminded me that no matter what happened, I would be able to go down fighting like a pissed off wildcat.

Now, when I close my eyes and relax, my heart rate drops and I feel peaceful. That’s not a bad thing, I guess–it’s just different. And even a few years in, I’m not completely sure how I feel about it.

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