Manic Depression is Wrecking my Head
I want you to take a moment to try to imagine your emotions as a scratch ticket, and every day, you scratch it off again, not knowing what you will get. One day, you may win, but six other days you could lose. But also, some lucky fuckers out there could win six times and lose one day, that is just how life balances when you gamble.
But that, my friends, is what living with manic depression is like. One day you could wake up and feel like you are the shit. Like you can have anyone you want, get any job you want, and are pretty much untouchable. Problem is, the next day you could wake up and feel worthless, not even capable of dragging yourself from the bed to get anything done. That is also what living with manic depression is like (or being bipolar, as they are one and the same and many don’t seem to be aware of that fact).
The inconsistency is what is so damning. At least depressed people have some consistency. Us manic depressives don’t know which one of “us” we will be waking up as, and this is every single day of our lives for the rest of our lives. The worst part is this disease is incurable. You either medicate to slightly dull it and learn to live with it or you let it kill you, there is no in-between for us, and I’m still not used to it even though I have had it as long as I can remember.
The Extreme, Manic Highs and Lows of Life (Times Ten)
Any rational person can tell you they experience highs and lows. That is called life. Do not mistake having a good day and then having a bad day the next as bipolar or manic depression. You just had some a good day and a bad day, that’s all. Everyone goes through that.
The real dick-kick is with manic depression is, you can be having a good day by all intents and purposes and still feel diseased within yourself. That is the problem with invisible diseases (aka mental diseases). You do not get the control the wheel or the direction you go, you just need to learn and observe and when you feel an “episode” of either extreme coming on, you just kind of buckle down best you can and prepare yourself.
The end result is often one of two extremes.
You feel like a God or you feel like you deserve death.
If this sounds fun to you in any way (even the God part), you have no idea the hell that is manic depression.
Please allow me to give you more insight.
Insight Into the Manic Highs
I won’t lie, the manic highs you sometimes get from manic depression can be a BLAST! They really can. You can approach anyone you are attracted to and just spit fire because you give no fucks and feel untouchable. You can walk into your boss’s office and ask for that raise you always wanted. It has its benefits, but they are slim. Because reality is, just because YOU feel like an untouchable God, does not mean others perceive you as such. That can be a very dangerous mix.
In other words, just because you FEEL like you can approach that perfect 10 and ask them out because YOU feel like a perfect 10 doesn’t mean THEY see you as a 10 in that moment.
And even though you feel brave enough to walk into your boss’s office and ask for a raise, you didn’t factor in his or her day, and walking in all brazen at the wrong time may not land you that raise, but could actually cost you job depending on just how cocky you are in that moment.
And those are MINOR examples.
Remember, manic comes from the word mania, and sometimes the mania can lead to some terribly self-destructive desires and urges.
It is not unheard of to fuck someone else’s love while manic.
It is not unheard of to get in a fight you can’t win while manic.
It is not unheard of people ruining relationships in manic episodes by straight saying some dumb shit without filtering it first.
That, my friends, is mania.
Manic episodes also have some very weird habits like suddenly taking to late night cleaning for no reason at 4 in the morning until the sun comes up or texting old friends at 3am with no hesitation, like that is okay and normal behavior (which it isn’t, most adults need sleep to work).
Just very counter-productive things to living a healthy life.
Essentially, being bipolar is like the worst aspects of being drunk. You are either in those first buzz stages or you are so drunk you are doing shit that will ruin your life. Again, no in between.
The show Shameless does a GREAT JOB at portraying manic depression with both sides of the coin being given equal screen time.
Now onto the lower end….
A Glimpse Into The EXTREME Lows
If you think the manic episodes sound bad, they are nothing compared to the depression episodes. You see, at least when manic you have a (false) sense of confidence and security. When it comes to the low ends and the actual ‘depression’ aspect, the only word I could use to describe it is agony.
Not only are you sad, deep and heavy, inside yourself, but often, with no source or explanation. That is just how the disease works. You either wake up manic or depressed, but rarely do you wake up even-keeled.
And the depression is crippling, really.
You have this nagging feeling that you are failure that you can’t shake. You are so sad it feels like you are carrying around a 200 pound, soaking wet blanket on your back. Even getting out of bed when you are that low can be excruciating. People toss around the term “feeling worthless” a lot in society, and the depression of manic depression is ten times lower than worthlessness.
You feel like the only place you deserve to be is dead, and dead isn’t even a place so that shows you where you mind is at in that state.
It is also not unheard of for a bipolar person to spend multiple days not getting out of bed. The sad part is, it is not even like we are sleeping. We are just kind of frozen in our sadness while this voice inside our head remind us of every mistake we ever made and every regret we ever felt.
It is truly damning, and yet it is still a disease so few people understand or respect because they seem to refuse to educate themselves about it.
A Lifelong Disease With No Cure
That is another aspect of manic depression that just sucks, no delicate way to word it. There is NO CURE for this condition.
There are meds that can help you level and control it, but many of them make you into a zombie and you would sometimes rather be your manic depressive self than to be walking around in a Lithium stupor.
So it is really a catch-22. You can’t get an injection that will suddenly make you normal, but you also shouldn’t live and suffer in such extremes. Every human should get a chance to just feel “alright” or “content” and what other people do NOT understand is, this was not our choice and that feeling, that middle-of-the-road contentment isn’t even an option for us.
We either feel like God, feel like death, or get drugged up and feel like an extra on the Walking Dead. It is a condition I would wish upon no one.
Why do you think I’m a writer?
Because this is the one job where I can show up to work in BOTH states and still have a job. But the real trick to living with manic depression is just understanding your own disease, and recognizing it as just that. Gauge your emotions and moods and try to sense when those changes and feelings are coming, so you can proverbially buckle up and let everyone around you know to do the same.
And if you know someone with this condition, understand, it IS a disease, no one CHOOSES to have it, and the more you educate yourself about it the better you will understand them and the better that will make them feel when they do hit a low point and need to be reminded they are loved, or if they hit that manic high and need you to pull their kite string in before they float off into oblivion. Be THAT person for them.
Remember, just because it is not called Cancer doesn’t make it any less damning. You may not literally die from it, but you sure as shit can die as a result of a moment in it, and that’s not something to laugh off.
Also, yes, Jimi Hendrix inspired the article title.
Dude understood this condition better half a century ago than some people I know do NOW.
Featured image by Anno Málie — Flickr.