I’ve written before that when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder I wanted a second opinion. I got that second evaluation and opinion and it was the same except worse. They added “with psychotic features” to it. The “psychotic features” doesn’t mean like the movie Psycho. It just means that I’ve had times in the past where I’ve experienced auditory and visual hallucinations. I only remember one visual hallucination and even though I know it was a hallucination, the memory of what I saw seems as real as any of the other things I’ve seen that are real. That’s how powerful a hallucination can be. It occurred during a time of extreme distress in which different prescription drugs were being thrown at me. I think it was the drugs since I’ve not experienced any sort of hallucination since. The label/stigma aside, the two worst things about this disorder in my case and for me are the depression that is absolutely crippling and then the swing to energy. Energy might not sound bad, but in my case the having a lot of unusual energy phase invariably turns to rage before it passes. I’m extremely volatile during this period. Almost anything can set me off and I become extremely aggressive, hostile, and paranoid. Not good things and definitely no walk in the park.
Weapons and Being Hyperalert (or is it paranoia?)
No matter where I am I have a weapon within reach. If at home I’m surrounded by them and they are everywhere in the house I may be (yes, even weapons in the restroom). If I’m out I have them on my belt. Edged weapons/knives on each hip. If I’m on my own property I also carry a small axe on my belt, if I’m not on my own 10 acres I take the axe off so as not to get shot at unnecessarily by overly nervous and adversarial cops. I’ve seen what happens to people who aren’t properly prepared to defend themselves. You may be thinking “what about concealed or open carry” of a gun? I have guns but do not carry one. My favorite is a .45 acp. But I don’t carry it and don’t plan to. It has been my experience both when I was a gunsmith and being around relatives who carry that none of them are able to quickly deploy their weapon. The open carry people are, for obvious reasons, are much faster but concealed is almost a joke. Every single real-life confrontation I’ve ever been in or witnessed has happened with incredible rapidity and were invariably at extreme close range, like literally in-your-face close range. No time at all to be lifting the shirt to fumble for a gun or, like others I’ve seen, reach into a pocket to grab a tiny pistol. While you’re fumbling for your weapon the person meaning you harm will be busy kicking your ass. I can deploy two knives, one in each hand, before the concealed carry person can deploy, ready, and fire their weapon. This isn’t bragging, it’s something that’s been tested to prove the truth of it without anyone being harmed.
I readily admit to being hyperalert. It’s not something I enjoy. I can never let my guard down or completely relax when I’m in the “energy” or rage phases. I notice everything. I watch people intensely that I feel are getting too close to me. I’m aware of where I am in relation to others, walls, obstacles, exits, and so on. With all this you might expect me to be physically tense but I’m not. I don’t understand why but my body is relaxed. It’s my mind that is hyperalert and aware of all these things and I would easily accept it being called paranoia instead of hyperalert. But is there really a difference? I think it’s all just semantics, different words to describe the exact same thing. Shrinks and others might call me paranoid and call a cop or soldier simply hyperalert for thinking and behaving in the exact same manner as myself. When I’m in this phase I view the world as a hostile environment and act accordingly. Please keep in mind as you read this that I’m trying my best to explain what it’s like for me with this inner beast, though that may be as impossible as trying to explain the taste of an orange to someone who’s never tasted an orange. My shrink told me not to expect others to understand. That it’s simply impossible for someone who doesn’t experience the same disorder to understand it so don’t expect them to. That is extremely difficult, but it’s because of projection which is something everyone does whether they admit it or not. Every single person projects their own views and values onto every other person and then are flabbergasted when they learn that, actually, not everyone shares those projected views and values.
I don’t know which is worse… the depression phase or the energy-then-rage phase. I think the depression phase is worse. And, at least for me, that phase hits extremely fast and extremely hard. Sometimes I don’t even know it’s about to happen. I just become so deeply depressed that I simply cannot function. Thoughts of my own death and/or suicide consume me. The feeling of hopelessness is overwhelming and indescribable. It’s as if the entire world gets and stays darker and I’m trying to move through molasses. In both phases my sleep is disturbed. The only time I sleep well is for a few nights after returning to New Mexico but after that I can’t even get a good night’s sleep there. This can be seen by bags under my eyes in the “featured image” of this post. The bags under my eyes and the very visible blood vessels in my eyeballs.
During the depression phase I have little energy and no drive. Everything seems ridiculously futile and pointless. When sleep does come I sleep far too long. Things that I was working on with vigor during the energy phase suddenly seem pointless and it takes a monumental act of will to accomplish anything at all. Even riding my motorcycle loses its appeal and that’s something that usually is not only soothing and healing for me but also the only place I can really relax. Or come as close to relaxing as is possible for me. Goals and dreams turn to dust in an instant. Not just turned to dust but then blown away and scattered by the foul, dark winds of depression. Nothing is appealing. I have to make myself eat to stay alive because not even food appeals to me then. The sight of a stunningly beautiful woman has no effect on me either during this phase. Everything becomes empty and meaningless. There is nothing as dreadful as the despair and darkness of the depression. Death starts to increasingly seem more favorable than this all-consuming gloom. It seems it will never end and no drug the shrinks and docs throw at me has even the slightest effect. I’ve come to the point that I refuse any further drugs from them. If they worked there wouldn’t be any depressed or bipolar people. Maybe they have worked for someone but they damn sure haven’t worked for me and to be quite frank it really pisses me off.
So… there you have it. Mere words attempting to convey the hellish reality of something that most people will never understand. But it’s the best I can do to try to explain my life. It’s just part of my life, it’s not the whole me. So I push on… trying to do something positive in the world. Anything. Just trying to get through each day while also trying to do something good in a world that seems so hostile, unforgiving, and cruel. Trying to better myself. What else is there? I haven’t given up yet!