Are You Looking At Me?
First publshed in Mental Healthy in February 2012
I’ve suffered from Bi Polar for 45 years now and yield to no man in my decision to deal with it through humour – no matter how dark. My poor old dad had Parkinson’s disease and almost had a convulsion from laughing at a joke about his condition. Gawd bless him!
I respect it may not work for everyone – indeed it probably won’t, but each of us has to find a way, and mine’s as good as any. Like most with the condition, it crept up on me in my teens. So as my pals were engaging happily in new night time pursuits, I was torn to pieces by guilt, and the sure conviction that I would go blind and find my hands head webbed over! For many, early diagnosis is lost in typical teenage hormonal angst. When I was finally diagnosed with Bi Polar in my thirties it was akin to discovering you’d developed haemorrhoids before life’s rodeo. I felt condemned to a life fraught with forward failure, yet relieved in one way to realise I was not simply a bad person. With one failed marriage behind me and being on my fourth job, it at least gave some meaning to the cock-ups I’d made!
Then a new journey began: I learned that SRI’s were not a sporty hatchback, and that Lithium is not a planet in Alpha Centauri. Of the former, I have to say they didn’t work for me. I digress – I always do after a dose of SRI’s!! – I could have belched for England had it been an Olympic sport, and – oh yes – I think the elegant term is erectile dysfunction. But let us say it’s not as one might imagine; a better description might be a faulty grenade that fails to go off.
Now is an appropriate time to raise note of caution here amongst all the frivolity, I am not irresponsible with respect to Meds, and for some it is the only way to get through the problem, but for me they didn’t work. Nor did any of the therapies such as CBT, which I know has its advocates, and seems to offer hope to many, but again it didn’t work. I think you need a mind set to go with it, in the way some people are susceptible to hypnosis, where it would never work with me as my mind is closed to the possibilities. That’s the point here – many therapist and doctors forget that the simple overlay of your own built in scepticism can limit your options. And these values, good or bad, sit outside your condition.
So it seemed to me that I needed to find my own way of coping. The joy of humour, especially the self-deprecating kind, is that it strips away the indignity and the sense of shame and fear that can dominate your approach to the world. If I can laugh at my idiosyncrasies then the barbed remarks of others are far less wounding.
Being Bi Polar also seems to blur into other mental conditions too, like OCD. Even minor things irritate and get under the skin. Take the 9 items or fewer queues in a typical supermarket. I am compelled to count how many items customers have in their basket, especially those ahead of me in the queue. And if someone has 10 or more I cannot hold my tongue. On the one hand I am right and these people are taking the mick, but in the overall scheme of things and life in general, it’s not worth getting worked up about at all!! But all I can say is that in the cold light of day, such common sense deserts me when it happens.
And with almost impossible cruelty, and not a little amusing irony, everyone’s coming out now; it’s as though Spartacus has melded with One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, as one by one, people stand up and say “I’m Bipolar”. It’s almost become a fashion accessory!
“You Bipolar?? – yeah me too – isn’t it great!”
Well actually, no it isn’t. But in this PC world we now inhabit, where a positive spin has to be attributed to everything, many have accorded themselves the Bi Polar sobriquet because of the ‘creativity’ it supposedly bestows.
Following that logic the great explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes must qualify too – after all he was the first to get the North and South Poles – ergo Bipolar. As I said look for the humour!
Works for me!!
Published First - First published in Mental Healthy Magazine in February 2012