I am bipolar: it doesn't look like what you think it looks like.
Rage. Anger. Tears. I slammed doors. Shattered glasses in the kitchen. I yelled and screamed at my husband and children, the people whom I loved the most.
It felt like an incredible buildup of pressure that was searching for a release. My pulse would race, I felt like my body wanted to crawl out of my skin and run in a thousand different directions. You know how your instant pot angrily hisses when you turn that pressure release valve? And a part of you is still scared that the whole thing will just blow up in your face? That was me.
Some days it felt like I was living in a constant fight or flight mode, but it was 99% fight. At times it lasted for days until I calmed down, sometimes it would only be a few hours. But during those moments, my sense of reality was so skewed it was unrecognizable.
For years I thought it was stress. I thought it was because my husband didn’t help around the house enough. I thought it was this, and that, and another thing. It couldn’t possibly be me! I was just another stressed out angry mom. But slowly over time, I began to look back over the destruction my actions had caused, and saw how completely out of proportion my responses were to the actual circumstances.
There would be times where I thought maybe I should go to therapy, or maybe I should seek medication. But then I would be fine for weeks or months at a time and I would tell myself I was fine, it was just a fluke. I would tell myself if it happens just one more time, then I will go. This cycle repeated over and over for years. Until finally I relented and decided to seek medication.
At age 33 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Specifically, Bipolar II that is rapid cycling and high functioning. I had never even considered this as a plausible diagnosis for myself.
I am bipolar, and it doesn’t look like what you think it looks like.
I’ve held a full time job since I was in high school. I have friends and coworkers who see me as a level-headed person who couldn’t possibly get angry at anything. Most of my friends and family still view me this way, and most people in my life do not know about my new diagnosis.
But my husband and kids know me differently. They have seen it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. I have been able to hold myself together through the work day, only to come home and completely lose my ever loving mind over a few dirty dishes in the sink.
For many people with bipolar disorder, mania, or hypomania in the case of bipolar II, presents as intense irritability, agitation, and anger. There is no enjoyment in this mania, no euphoric high. In fact, it’s pure Hell.
With therapy and medication, I am starting to see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel I have been traveling through. It’s difficult to believe I have spent so many years, decades!, living the way I did. I still have some breakthroughs, but I am eons from where I began.
There is no cure for bipolar disorder; for me it will be managed by a lifetime of medication, and therapy as needed. And I am thankful for every little pill that I swallow.