In my late teens as alcohol and sexuality became interwoven into my life I began to utilize a coping mechanism for dealing with social anxiety. Hindsight being 20/20, I now realize that what I was doing was inducing hypomania. Back then I had given it a name as it represented a collection of desirable characteristics. This is the kind of thing that actually gives bipolars a bad reputation and lends credibility to ridiculous myths about multiple personalities. I didn’t have another personality, I was still me, still conscious and cognizant, though at times it felt like I was a passenger along for the ride. I called this “alter-ego” Jack McBastard. He could do things that I definitely could not. The funny thing being that he was me. I was him. Nothing had changed in the slightest, I had just engaged my hypomanic fit and rode the wave. I was the weapon, I aimed at the target and fired Jack Mcbastard like ammunition at my desires. Then I just strapped myself in and watched it happen. This is the “life of the party” symptom that you’ll hear about, mine had a name. It was eerily similar to the concept of Jim Carrey’s character in “The Mask”. Up to and including the inability to take it off.
I had admitted to having thoughts of suicidal ideation with growing frequency and intensifying vividity. The fantasies had existed for most of my life. As a creative person with exceptional visual imaginative capabilities, these fantasies become elaborate masterpieces in the macabre. Stephen King could take lessons from the twisted scenes I had played out for myself. Some were needlessly elaborate and brutal to a near cartoonish degree. I cannot speculate as to why they get this way except that I actually like these thoughts sometimes. Then the realism of them sinks in, they graduate to the planning stage. This is where I get worried. I claim that I didn’t know I was depressed, perhaps I didn’t perhaps I was oblivious or maybe I was in denial. The strange thing about being a young, proud, virile, competitive alpha male type is that you refuse to admit to any kind of weakness. Don’t get me wrong, I am not the jockish former high school football star who still plays hockey with his buddies on weekends. I am not a knuckle-dragging mouth-breather. But I do like to stay fit and exercise my mind. I am six feet tall and I do weigh two hundred pounds, I am in good physical condition. But I am no meathead. Still, as a male you feel pressured to tow the line. To bear the brunt and weather the storm. I feel infinitely stupid for having done this now. Had I been honest with myself, had I paid better attention to my family history and my lousy behaviours I might have gotten help much sooner.
A little bit of patient history so you can get a feel for some of my behaviours and triggers. I will provide the robotic chart comparison version in an upcoming post so you can see exactly how neatly I fall into the BPII diagnosis.
This is intended for an audience of one. Myself.
-Why put it online for anyone to read? You might ask.
Fair question and rather easily answered in several layers. First, there are people out there who are suffering from this very illness right now who might feel alone. They feel the weight of the indefinable loathing and loneliness and need to know that there are others taking up the mantle in this struggle alongside them. Perhaps reading real world accounts succinctly written as graphically as possible will help them see the many facets of their illness and help them to identify aspects of their own lives that they may not have been aware of. In this way they may be forewarned of unseen hazards or alerted to pitfalls. Vice versa can be said of those readers who reply with feedback warning me of dangers I had yet to encounter, we can be mirrors reflecting the ugly demons within one another, fireteam partners watching each others backs.
Secondly, there are people who may be curious about bipolar II and have read a thing or two but still aren’t quite convinced that they lie within the realm of the hypomanic. After the studying I have done and the sessions I have had it has been determined that I am a very typical extreme bipolar II. Without going too far I am like a poster boy for the illness, I skated by in life without being diagnosed until I was in my 30’s. The change being that my hypomanic periods gradually went from euphoric with occasional dysphoric episodes to only dysphoric. This happened upon settling into adulthood as the illness slowly began to shape my personality, demeanor and character. Dysphoric hypomania is one of the most dangerous types, you are peaking, revved up and your mind is roiling and fuming as the “mania” would suggest. Yet, it is all negative, bleak, dark rotten and horrible. I will go more indepth into this at a later time, but this experience is one that is difficult for most to identify let alone define. Most sufferers do not even realize when it is happening, until they do something dire and extreme. I am one of the few who can now after some work begin to see these moments and perhaps put them into words. It is my hope that this, more than anything, will help others. Defining those illusory sensations that touch down in our mind like a force of nature and take us on an unexpected journey (there has been some observation about the similarities between this experience and PMS). For people who are not entirely certain about their own illness or that of those they love, or those who are merely curious I hope to shed some light on the inner working of a typical case of extreme bipolar II and what that might look like by way of behaviours and reactions to certain social settings and environments.
Third and finally, beyond tracking my own progress and feeding curiosity for my fellow sufferers and their loved ones there is the last category which is actually two categories that I have lumped together. The medical professionals: psychiatrists, psychologists, pharmacologists (I take meds), and untold other psych related professions that I have no awareness of etc. Then there is the other side of the intelligentsia/academic coin: the rubber-neckers. No disrespect, in fact you are the purest of knowledge seekers. For you are here to gain insight on things unrelated to your job, unrelated to your personal life/familiar affairs. You are here to understand something merely for the sake of understanding something, which is the noblest of pursuits, especially given this particular subject. It is these people that I hope to entreat the most, for I cannot foist the knowledge of my illness upon people and expect them to understand my behaviour and forgive it. You have to want to do so on your own and it is my hope that through my writing about my illness in my own solitudinous little corner of the interwebs that maybe one day it will contribute to spreading awareness. That it will reach people who otherwise have no reason to stop and pay attention or care. Don’t we all want to be understood?
-Surely there are other blogs and support sites out there for people with bipolar II, why not become a contributor to them?
I fully intend to. Also, they are not mine. I know that this might sound really arrogant (bipolar II is frequently mistaken early on with narcissistic personality disorder), I have been told that I have a gift for the written word. In order to utilize this gift to its maximum potential as a weapon in my fight against MY OWN PERSONAL DEMON, it is best that I write about MY illness on MY blog. This seems to me the zenith of logical reasoning. This is a tool for me to grow, adapt and overcome a enemy that has a camp within my own mind. It knows my every thought and action, sometimes it controls them. The expression of thoughts and ideas and preservation of them in the form of written communication is a very powerful tool. It allows me to track and gauge my thinking on a chronological timeline and record my progress. Moreover, it allows me to share that progress and experience with others (despite this being primarily about me). BPII is different from person to person and while I will eventually be contributing to other sites this will be the consolidation of my own experiences.
-Who are you and what do you do?
I will not reveal my personal details for several reasons a few of which follow: The world is actually fairly unaccepting and misunderstanding of BPII and there is a stigma attached to it and other forms of depression. Outing myself as BPII could damage my career (as things are it probably will anyway). As aforementioned, being in the public eye related to a mental illness could pose some challenges that I am not ready for at present. Down the road this will more than likely change, I am really not ashamed of my illness. I am not ashamed of having blue eyes either. There is nothing I can do about it, however I can limit access to my person for the time being. My occupation is an aggressively exacerbating factor in my illness and a defining feature of who I am. Sooner or later one might be able to guess what I do but I will say this up front: I have no intention of openly revealing my profession until I no longer work in that field, which is a very real future possibility.
-What’s with the name Dysphorian Grey?
I concocted the word dysphorian as one who is of dysphoria, as a Scandanavian is from somewhere in the region known as Scandinavia. So, a dysphorian is someone of/from dysphoria. This made a nice first name, but what about a last name? Several things occurred in my mind simultaneously (as they frequently do with us BPII cats), I thought of how bleak a life of depression is and that it can seem like one is wearing a filter leaving only a grey scale. Also I thought of Dorian Gray, from Oscar Wildes book “A picture of Dorian Gray”. How he stays pleasant and youthful on his exterior but internally he is rotten and horrible as depicted in the painting of himself that he keeps hidden away from everyone elses view. This is an interesting thing about BPII, for the most part other people may not see the vile, pustulent, scarified, hideous, demonic, wicked, loathing hurtfulness and hatred that boils and festers beneath the surface. You may not even see it yourself. You may have locked it away in your attic (interesting metaphor). Rest assured however, it is there and it is growing and getting uglier. It will gain in power and what it really wants is for you to die, unless you kill it first. But you can’t simply kill this demon, because that would mean killing yourself, which is exactly what it wants, you have to starve it to death. You have to stop nourishing it. You have to empower yourself. You have to learn self control and self love.
So there is the source of the name, you have Dysphorian (someone of dysphoria), you have Dorian Gray (the outwardly youthful man whose debauchery tarnishes only his hidden characteristics and painting) and the colour grey which is the ambiguous, bleak, flavourless state of being when faced with the pits of despair to which our depression has us sink and sometimes remain for excruciatingly long periods of time.
Oh, it has come to my attention also that the wealthy pervert in “50 shades of Grey” has the last name Grey, hence the title… I cannot help that the proper spelling of the colour grey is with an “e” and it happens to have been a good choice of a last name. I am keeping the name, I rather like it.