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The downside of bipolar disorder. Well, one of them, at least

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So. I suffer from bipolar disorder. I’m 99% stable, on meds, doing the right things, and doing what I have to do.

The current group of friends that I have, most of them have never seen me in an episode. For that, I’m thankful, but not for the reason you may think.

When I’m hypo/manic, I’m the life of the party. I’m involved in everything. I’m funny, I’m witty, I’m pretty, I’m always up for a good time. I really think that the reason I’m not friends with many people from my first stint in college is because I’m not really that person and they didn’t really like it all that much.

In reality I’m introverted. Prefer to sit at home and read or garden or craft. I don’t want to go out for a good time three times a week. I want wings and beer with a friend or two and goo conversation versus being packed into the hottest club in town. I want to get lost in a good book. Have an adventure once in awhile with a friend or by myself.

When I’m stable, I’m not “fun.”

Sure I’m odd, and quirky, and still like to have fun, but I don’t want to party. I don’t want to get drunk. I don’t want to hook up. I want a quiet life.

 When I am my present “normal” self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In short, for myself, I am a hard act to follow.

Kay Redfield Jamison – An Unquiet Mind

I’m glad that I don’t have to live up to these expectations anymore. I’m glad that I don’t have to be always “on” with anyone. It’s nice to know that I’ve been accepted by my friends for who I am.

I’m also glad that since none of them have ever experienced an episode that they never sit around and wonder when the next one is going to happen. Thankfully even Mike knows that these episodes are fleeting and not the norm and doesn’t watch me like a hawk waiting for the other shoe to drop. He also knows that I’ve been good with dealing with them and reach out for help before they get out of control.

In many ways I want to protect my friends and family both from the true horrors of my disease. I don’t want them to have to deal with it or the fallout. I also don’t want them to look at my differently.

Despite everything, I still put on a mask. The mask has changed both slightly and drastically over the last year and even started to come down, but the mask is still there. I still show people what I want them to see. Very few people have gotten through my many walls, and most of the ones that have I really didn’t want them to, but they did anyway.

There’s obviously still an urge to protect and shield. I often think that it’s really not for their benefit, though, it’s for mine. It’s another tool to keep people at arm’s length and not let them in. Ultimately it’s to protect myself. And I don’t know how to break this pattern.

Currently listening to: All Time Low – Time-Bomb
Currently reading: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

4 thoughts on “The downside of bipolar disorder. Well, one of them, at least

  1. Just found your site, enjoying it so far. This really resonates – I have bipolar too, and I feel like you were reading some of my thoughts while writing this post. I have different masks for different people, but by now my co-workers and friends understand I will never be the extroverted, fun guy. Sometimes I will be convinced to tag along, and then I end up alone in a room full of people. Good times

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy to have you! I absolutely have different masks for different people and scenarios. There are some that the mask has dropped more than others, but it’s always there.

    And I know what you mean about being alone in a room full of people. I feel that, hard.

    Like

  3. Even before I was diagnosed as bipolar I thought of myself as an introverted extrovert. In college I was a DJ in clubs and on the radio. I aelf medicated with booze all to fit in.

    Like

    1. In some ways I still see myself that way. With people or situations I’m comfortable in, I can absolutely be an extrovert, but at the heart of things, I’m a total introvert.

      I also self medicated when I was younger. Dangerous thing to do, and I learned that the hard way.

      Liked by 1 person

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