John and I have both now talked about those early lurches, or crashes that we experienced at school. I experienced a second major one when I started working in Accident and Emergency. After a brilliant (hypomanic) year of impressing everyone, my mood crashed and I was suddenly impressing no-one. My consultant eventually hauled me into the office and said ‘If I had to see a doctor I’d want to see one like you. But do you think you could work a bit faster?’ The answer, it seemed, was no…..
We were starting to negotiate the highs and lows, but it really struck me from John’s quote above that no-one (myself included) had a language useful for discussing these things. I’ll likely come back time and again in this blog to language, words, analogy, how we express the things we experience. Because it fascinates me, and because it’s a mighty challenge.
As a blogger I’d like to find ways to express what it’s like to be me. Not just to explain what mania’s like, or suicidal depression, but to express what it’s like to live a life that contains these things. Then maybe blogging can help by providing words and language that other people can use and share. That’s my hope anyway.
Last week my friend shared an analogy with me that expresses very well ‘what it’s really like’ for me, so I wanted to share it. My friend is 79 and fit and active. She had gone to look round a department store in town and spent an hour shopping. When she came out a fair covering of snow had fallen in the street, on an icy base. For the first time she felt unsure of her step, unsteady and vulnerable. Each step was precarious and guarded with the potential for a fall. With a sickening feeling of realisation she felt that she didn’t even know if she could make it to the bus stop. It took her great effort to keep upright. My friend wondered next if these feelings expressed what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder. It expresses perfectly for me why I find ‘things’ so difficult – because I’m continually having to react to right myself, responding to internal change the whole time to keep myself upright and stable, dealing with placing my feet on a constantly shifting surface, and coping with the sickening feeling that the small challenge up ahead may just be beyond me.
I look forward in this blog to exploring these ideas further