I notice that bipolar is an ugly word when people use it to describe an ex. “God she was psycho,” my client told me. “She was totally bipolar,” he went on, not knowing that it’s a label I own too. I nodded and smiled reluctantly but genuinely. It wasn’t the first time I had heard a man describe his ex this way, or a woman describe her ex that way, for that matter. Freedom is the underlying emotion each time I hear these exasperated recollections from my clients or friends as they describe my peers. I cringe a little each time, not knowing if it’s because I despise the misunderstanding that’s associated with “us” or because I can imagine the hell they probably went through, knowing myself deeply as a bipolar “wrecker of things.” Relief is the primary emotion I sense from the people who are disclosing to me in these situations. Relief from emotional bondage, manic chaos, intellectual confusion, verbal abuse, and a host of other things I really don’t need them to name because the picture is usually clear when I close my eyes and imagine their break-ups.
Without fail, my mental rolodex creates a flash flood of imagery from my own episodic history, particularly on the love train. Love brings out the best and the worst of all of us. We, the “United Republic of Bipolar Psychos” of the world, are no different, just more extreme. My best and my worst are significantly more intense and extreme than most people I know, except maybe among my fellow “polar people.” I like to think I’m always giving my best and that even my worst is still way better than most people’s best. My friends and family might agree. Or, they might say that’s the exact magical thinking and self-aggrandizement of the bipolar talking!
Well, at least I talk about my feelings.
I do feel a little uglier since my formal diagnosis in 2017. But I also feel more accountable. I think it’s unfair, and I get totally triggered (in true bipolar fashion), when people even allude to the idea that I might use my bipolar experience to excuse my behavior. I think it’s quite the opposite. I can name it now, which is a huge step farther along the recovery journey than being completely unaware.
“Hi, my name is Jenny Carrington, and I live with a bipolar experience. All you piece of s**t readers will never f******g get it, or me, so quit trying.”
See, that’s the bipolar rage talking. When I name it, I can take a breath and try it again another way.
“Hey, readers! Thank you so much for opening your hearts to understanding why I’m a manic rage-aholic. Oh, and also, thank you in advance for taking a deep breath knowing that it’s really not as personal or abusive as you think it is.”
It’s a perpetual frustration of boredom, not of hate. We don’t hate you. We don’t want to abuse you, and we aren’t even that mad at you. But we are bored, and you are there. And that’s pretty much the crux of it.
As a disclaimer to this article, I need you to come with me on a journey, readers. It’s a newsworthy journey, I promise. It’s a news flash in fact. We’re all f*****g suffering right now! So, if the raw truth of our collective psychosis isn’t on your front-page news, it’s probably on the front page of your internal monologue, or at least stuck like a headline on the forehead of someone you know or love.
Open the paper and read us now. We’re here! Let’s get ready for the decade party together. Calmness is like a gala dress we know is flattering for us but have nowhere to wear it to. So, we’re hanging out in our ugly bipolar sweats, un-showered, writing to you from our beds hoping you’ll give us a chance. Or at least I am! The label is a place to open the conversation about us “polar people.”
Will you have it with me, readers?
An “ugly” one
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