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Disclaimer: In the name of full transparency, I am not a doctor or therapist, I am a fellow bipolar sufferer sharing my experiences and the knowledge that I have gained in the hope those experiences and knowledge may help you.
Experiencing Mania From The Other Side.
I have shared a number of times that for the past five years I have been in a fantastic relationship with a woman who sufferers from bipolar II disorder.
As a sufferer of bipolar 1 disorder, I have experienced full-blown manic bouts. Therefore, I know exactly what experiencing a manic phase looks and feels like on me, but does it mean that I know what mania or hypo-mania look like on someone else?
A Great Weekend At The Lake.
It was supposed to be a great weekend at the lake. A getaway to see friends whom we had not seen all winter. Play some cards and cook some food. Generally, we were to relax and hang out. We even agreed, during the week, not to tackle any of the long lists of projects we have planned for our lake lot.
What Really Happened.
Kathy has been under a lot of stress at work and I had noticed she was not sleeping great. But that was what this weekend was for, stress release. I do not think she slept at all the night before we were to leave for the lake.
I did not think much of this as she could sleep in the truck during the three-hour drive to the lake.
As I loaded our belongings into the truck, I could here Kathy talking. I assumed she was on the phone or just checking things off her list of things to pack.
We are all loaded and, in the truck, when Kathy started talking. An hour later she was still talking. This was not normal as we usually use this time to pursue our separate interests. Kathy’s is music and she usually has her ancient iPod with over 10,000 songs and her earbuds in. Kathy usually sings quietly along to her music. While I drive and think about blog ideas or work on stories in my mind. Recording them through my own earbuds into a voice recorder. A usually quiet and enjoyable drive.
We took the scenic route to the lake. This takes us through mostly farmland and as we go further north into an area dotted with small lakes. There are no major towns only small villages along the way,
We stopped at a gas station to get fresh coffee and I wanted to get some bait for fishing.
Kathy was still talking when we got out of the truck. She continued to talk in the store as she picked out things. When I had our coffees and my bait I paid for those things. Kathy meanwhile had struck up a conversation with the lady who was running the store. So, I told her I would meet her in the truck. Some 45 minutes later Kathy emerged from the store carrying four large bags of things. For the remaining 90 minutes of our journey, Kathy showed me and explained in great detail the treasures she had found in that out of the way gas station. She probably made that store sales targets for the summer.
Once we arrived at the lake it was the energizer bunny that got out of the truck. Kathy went from one project to another dragging me along with her.
“We need to get this done” she would say.
Our friends came over to get us to play cards at their place as was the plan. Because we had been so busy on the projects, we had not eaten yet so we told them we would show up after we had eaten.
While we were eating Kathy talked about her ideas and plans for our place at the lake.
The card game was the last straw for me. Kathy never stopped talking and disrupted the whole evening.
I was getting angrier and angrier and I my friend, who is also bipolar, could see it.
He suggested that he and I go for a walk.
Once we were out of hearing range, he looked at me and said. “What is the matter with you can you not see that Kathy is manic?”
I had not seen the signs.
What Signs Of Mania Had I Missed?
Lots of ideas and plans.
After that swift kick in the ass, we went back to the table and resumed the card game. My attitude had changed from anger to understanding and compassion and I looked at Kathy’s behavior for what it was – mania.
Kathy is bipolar II and her hyper manic bouts are short-lived. By the next morning, she was back to her regular self.
I was able to be there for her when the one symptom of mania that is never talked about showed up. That is the remorse after the manic phase.
Kathy was ashamed of her behavior and all the money she had spent.
But having a partner, once his head was put on straight, and friends who really understand, both the illness of bipolar and the aftermath of mania, we were able to keep her from the dive into the depression that the remorse brings.
What did I learn?
It is my job to recognize the signs of Kathy’s illness as well as my own and to be there for her with a compassionate heart.
That I am not perfect.
That Kathy and I have great friends that accept us as we are and correct us when we are on the wrong path.
As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our battle is with our illness not with other people, places, situations, or other external things. Our goal is to develop the self-discipline to take control of our emotions, minds, and lives.
The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”
I say,” Work hard on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”
Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.
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Madness: A Bipolar Life by Marya Hornbacker
BLOG OF THE WEEK:
Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well. This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you. I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by John Poehler