I realise the next logical post would be ‘What is Bipolar Disorder?’ to help you get a handle on it… but that will have to wait because I am not ‘bipolar’ I am a person who has ‘bipolar disorder’.
Although there are different types, everyone’s bipolar is different.
You can’t generalise about ‘the mentally ill’ any more than ‘women’. Try starting a sentence with the words: “You women are….” and you will get shot down. Like most twenty-somethings I am trying to work out what to do with my life and weighing up a lot of emotional and professional risks. Most people with bipolar are highly dependable and risk averse when WELL; which flips when you’re Manic because the judgement and risk-taking areas of the brain get impaired.
Even whilst well, taking chances as a bipolar person, (with your heart or your purse) always involves the fear of failure, the loss of control and possible illness. Risk taking creates blips in your wellness routine. Whenever I fear that we’re not meant to be normal I respond: maybe we’re meant to be extraordinary.
Yesterday we visited my cousin who had come back from Umrah Hajj, the short version of the mandatory pilgrimage, ‘Hajj’ to the Muslim holy city of Makkah (Mecca.)
My cousin happened to go during Ramadan, the month of fasting which has just passed. To be able to undertake this journey at any time – financially, physically and spiritually – is considered a lucky, beautiful opportunity for repentance and worship.
I had been having panic attacks in Ramadan, the fasting of which I observed with a ‘one day on one day off’ policy as dehydration is dangerous to our health. On its holiest night Laylat ul Qadr, when the Qur’an itself was revealed, it is traditional to stay up in remembrance of Allah. Unfortunately part-way through what I realised would be a very long night of devotion, I remembered that I hadn’t taken my medication. This immediately brought on an overwhelming panic attack.
Back in the relative future however, we were obliged to sit with my Uncle’s other (loud) guests. I haven’t socialised with large groups of ‘new’ people for 2.5 years now, which meant that this situation was challenging. It makes me wistful as I am actually an extrovert by nature. Once home I was exhausted, but I had to turn my attention back to the minefield of my personal life currently.
Feeling overwhelmed, I visited my aunt who said: “You can’t torture yourself. Life is a risk. You just have to decide whether you want to take it. There is light at the end of the tunnel, so just don’t close your eyes!”
To all dealing with this: be patient, seek knowledge and don’t expect too much.
We can hardly help you understand how it feels whilst we are overwhelmed by feeling it. Limit tiredness, create safe spaces and pauses through the day. We would never limit you having fun and living life because your happiness is also important… but the toll it takes on us is far greater.
~ Pola ~