I’ve Got That Bipolar Feeling…

One reason I’ve always done well in school is due to the structure. Many graduate students working on a dissertation know this feeling well: as soon as the coursework is done, and time is unstructured by classes and papers, one can find an infinite number of things to do besides writing the dissertation.

Now, I didn’t necessarily have that option, which is both a good and bad thing. Having children to feed and a limited number of years of funding meant I had very little time to spare. I wrote my dissertation in one year because, despite the fact that I had to take two-degrees-worth of classes, I needed to be done and move on. So I did it, and I moved on.

Except that I didn’t. While the dissertation was done and the doctorates were in hand, I didn’t have a product, in the form of immediately publishable articles, that I need to get to the next level: a tenure-track faculty position. Now, I’m in the position of writing and revising while I also have a busy day job. The day job is also on the path to getting THE job, so it’s not as if finishing the degrees when I did was all bad. It just means I have to cram a little more into every day — while being a wife and mother of three.

Which leads me back to my original point of focus. Sometimes I get so mad at myself that I don’t sustain my energy — my blogging is temperamental, as is my drawing and my exercise and my singing and my work. My energy towards different tasks waxes and wanes to the point that I feel pulled in many directions and, due to the tension, I’m not moving anywhere. I stand at a crossroads so often that instead of moving way forward in one direction, I move bit by bit on all directions, slowly pushing my circle outward, going many places but getting to all of them slowly. I get better in all areas, but not as quickly as I want.

I blame being bipolar. And I hate it.

My waxing and waning follows the path of my hypomania and depression; they are cyclical, but somewhat unpredictable. The hypo months are productive in every area — I blog and draw and work everyday. My time is well portioned: I spend an hour here, another there and yet another elsewhere, each hour more productive than the one before. Every day I find myself pushing the boundaries of the circle, and I’m proud of myself for doing so. I create my structure, and work it to the bone.

But then the ebb comes, and everything slows. I stand still and shrink up. I neither blog or draw nor write nor sing. The depression weighs me down and I can’t move. The only structure is that which  requires me to get up and go to work — and there I am maintaining just to avoid getting fired and not having a paycheck. My perfectionism eats at me, as I blame myself for being sick. I see all my boundary pushing fizzling, and all I did seems to be for naught and I’m disappointed in my lack of progress.

Having bipolar II disorder is the hardest thing about being me. I absolutely hate it. I am not one of those people who had learned to love their bipolar brain, to embrace this thing that makes them special. I can no more embrace bipolar than I’m sure many survivors cannot embrace cancer. I have goals and dreams and ideas and sometimes I feel like I am settling for something less than I am.

And the ironic thing is that I know this is the bipolar talking. The bipolar is saying you’ve achieved nothing, while I blame the bipolar for my lack of achievement. The bipolar sees all that I’ve done and lets the perfectionist start talking — I want to lead my perfect life and anything short of that isn’t good enough. It doesn’t matter that I have three beautiful kids and a husband that is unmatched and academic honors and a prestigious job — I want more. I can’t even trust that how I’m feeling is actually how I’m feeling — what if it’s the bipolar feeling? How do I know?

One thought on “I’ve Got That Bipolar Feeling…

  1. […] Meet them The Lovebirds San Diego’s award-winning lesbian folk/pop band talks about love, life and the healing power of music. Creed singer, Scott Stapp in recovery and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Mystic Mickey uses Radio Salford slot to cheer thousands. (Apparently he has “bipolar personality disorder”) Living & training as a bipolar narcoleptic: getting an accurate diagnosis. Finding the grey: my life with bipolar disorder. Woman thinks she has bipolar, almost divorces husband, then finds out it’s menopause. Aka menopausal moron self diagnosed with Dr Google and almost wrecked her life as a result. Let that be a lesson to… Etc. Do you consider yourself to have a disability : A bipolar worker speaks out. Joel Sax, Pax Nortona – bipolar blog of the year. Bipolar shoplifter steals rampant rabbit vibrator. sez the toilet paper tabloid, the daily fail. Internet dating – not everyone needs to know about my disease. I’ve got that bipolar feeling […]


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