I’ve been reading the blogs of other folks who suffer from bipolar, which is very helpful, because I see that I’m not alone with this buggering illness. We share many of the same symptoms: constant anxiety, chronic dread, delusions, insomnia, paranoia, suicidal tendencies, amazing spurts of creativity, the ability to feel life much more deeply than you do, and a full grasp of horror. When we get happy, it becomes a mental orgasm that doesn’t end.
(Don’t think that last one is any fun. How would you feel, if you underwent an unrelenting, five-day orgasm?)
It’s good for me to read my fellow bipolar kins’ blogs. It shows me that we all have one big thing in common: our lives are a constant scream. Many of us have turned to blogging in order to 1. Share with others what it means to suffer a mental illness, 2. Break the stigma around mental illness, and 3. Howl.
We’re always looking for ways to survive. Writing about it is as necessary to me as my meds. I see this in the others’ blogs. We’re writing to you; we’re writing to ourselves; we want you to understand, knowing that you never really will, that you are trapped in your own concept of homeostasis (maybe you’ve talked yourself into believing you’re stable; we all have our delusions); and we write because it is a type of scream.
We look for hope, though I don’t use that word much anymore. I’m not sure what hope is. I’m fifty-six. After living in a constant state of jagged, emotion flux since 1978 (when the illness first took me), I’m better off recognizing how dangerous this goddamn illness is. It’s a killer, like cancer. Some don’t like that simile, but it’s usually because they believe we can control our illness if we just work harder at it. I can’t stand those people. I have no time for them. Because I have a limited time.
Manic depression is as much a physical as it is a mental illness. It is so mean on the mind that, as we age, the brain shrinks. The telomere–the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces—disintegrate at an alarmingly fast rate in our heads. It’s one reason why we die between eleven and twenty years earlier than the average U.S. life span.
Is this all bad news? Of course it is. And those who are blogging are wrestling with all this. The wrestling itself just might be a part of—not our healing; there is no cure for bipolar—our survival and, hopefully, the source of our joys. And we deserve a little joy.