Bit by bit, my therapist and I have been pulling apart my personality. Like a ball filled with hundreds of slip knots, gently—and some days not so gently—we tug at the strings and watch the ball fall apart, one knot at a time.
The results are always the same.
There is a moment of comprehension when the ol’ light bulb turns on. The patient freezes, does the math, and bursts into tears. In most cases—for me—I’m a little better the next day. And by “a little better” I mean the triggers that once were triggers are no longer as much of an issue.
With more than three dozen triggers, this is a huge accomplishment for me.
My therapy began with the physical abuse I suffered as a child. I was abused by an individual I will call “Shaun.” Shaun no longer exists, but the damage Shaun inflicted it still very much there.
Shaun identified with the aggressor. To regain power…control over his own life, he targeted beings smaller than him. This is where bullies come from. The bully always identifies with the aggressor due to a lack of assertiveness.
Maybe the abused can not confront their abuser. Maybe they can not be assertive and say, “Stop!” Or, in Shaun’s case, it didn’t matter if he screamed for help. Like me, he too was not heard. And so, when his assertiveness ended, Shaun became the aggressor.
I went the other way. Kind of…I never attempted assertiveness. I, too quickly, identified with the victim and defaulted to passiveness. I silently took my beatings and quickly decided that if I spoke up, my voice would not be heard. In the sporadic moments that I found my courage and spoke up, the abusers quickly slammed me back down. I learned fast that I was a psychological mute. I accepted my lot and accepted my fate. I was alone. From that moment on loneliness became my much loathed companion. And yes…Like Shaun, I too felt out of control and powerless.
So, an hour at a time, my therapist and I pull apart my issues. On the 6 August 2015, I was told I was bi-polar.
I want to stop here to say most psychological disorders are GROSSLY misunderstood and ill-defined by the populace. If you are not a psychologist or active in the field of psychology, I strongly recommend you hold off on throwing terms around like “OCD” and “ADHD.”
My immediate response to this diagnoses was “Really? Bi-polar? Are you sure?” I said nothing, nodded my head, and left. The hour was up. Yesterday, we returned to the topic.
“I painted the house yesterday,” I said. “And then I wrote a book, pushed out the Blog Tour, edited, networked, reworked my website, blogged, drove to two appointments, made dinner, worked in the garden until 9 P.M. —Really…weeding roses in the dark…not the best idea. I can’t calm down. After three hours of sleep, I woke at 3 A.M. fuzzied my cat for an hour while I wrote an outline in my head for my next book.”
“Do you often have these energetic states followed by depression?” Judith asked.
“That’s me,” I said. “I am a very energetic person. I can’t sit still.”
“Would you call it euphoric?”
I thought for a moment. My energetic state was always matched with a perky, happy, peppy kind of energy.
“I’m wouldn’t say euphoric,” I said. “Just energetic. But I have depression. I was diagnosed with chronic depression when I was 16. I’ve been fighting depression on and off my whole life. I know the signs and know how to use exercise and vitamins to counter my lows. But I’m never angry. I don’t swing unpredictably from depression to anger. There is always a catalyst. It isn’t random.”
“Not anger,” my therapist said…I’m going to call her Judith.” Not anger,” Judith said. “Perhaps euphoria?”
“You’ve never been in a heightened state of euphoria?”
“Well…yes,” I said, once I thought about it. “From the end of January to the end of March I was on cloud 9. For two months straight I sustained a constant state of epic-euphoria. But there was a very clear catalyst for that (Raven…see Broken). The depression that followed was broken heart. Even during the two weeks I spent writing Broken, I toggled between psychotic breakdown and identity crisis, then sky-rocketed back up to euphoria.”
“Everyone has highs and lows,” she said. “But bi-polar is when you have really high highs and your lows are dangerously low…sometimes, suicidal.”
Yep. That was me to a “T.” She had me. Judith is very good at her job. I told her this.
“Yes,” I said. I had to comply. I saw it now. “But I’ve always been like this. High energy, crazed drive…As a child I would sit around my room surrounded by a pile of papers composing songs and scribbling them down. Then I would write letters to Erik, clean my room…I might go to bed at 4 A.M.”
“Yes, that’s a kind of Mania—well…it is Mania,” Judith said. “But that word is so poorly used today, that it has developed a negative meaning. I don’t like using it.”
I looked it up on Wikipedia.
Mania is the mood of an abnormally elevated arousal energy level, or “a state of heightened overall activation with enhanced effective expression together with liability of affect.”  Although it is often thought of as a “mirror image” to depression, the heightened mood can be either euphoric…
In my case it’s euphoric. REALLY happy.
…or irritable and, indeed, as the mania progresses, irritability becomes more prominent and can eventuate in violence.
Irritability for me, and when I see the signs, I withdraw and depression sets in.
Although bipolar disorder is by far the most common cause of mania, it is a key component of other psychiatric conditions (e.g., schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type; cyclothymia) and may occur secondary to neurologic or general medical conditions, or as a result of substance abuse.
I’ve always been like this. As early as twelve…when I found Erik. (Erik, by the way, is my fictitious friend I created to replace my lack of relationships. He was the “silent listener” at a time when I was psychologically mute. Erik was inspired from The Phantom of the Opera, who I identified with and strongly related to with my own home life…ergo, a lack of love).
So this is where I stopped in the middle of my session and thought of the countless emails I’ve received from my peers. “Angela, I don’t know where you get the energy.” or “Angela! It astounds me how you just keep going.”
What you are seeing, my dear friends is my psychotic disorder! My mania or bi-polar! Bwahahahahaaa! Yes, I use dry humor to lighten the mood 🙂
So there it is. I’m spending today reviewing my thirty years of euphoric energy followed by my suicidal lows. I often think of Lilo, “Leave me alone to diiiiie.” Yep! When I’m low, that’s me. I am currently in a state of euphoric high right now, btw). When I have my lows, I vanish from social media and it lasts about two days. At most, a week.
Why am I telling you all this? Why am I revealing so much of myself that most would consider is personal?
First, I have no sense of privacy. It’s something I never had as a child. My business was openly shared and mocked by an entity I will call “My Mother.”
Second, I entered Kolinahr years ago and can turn it off and on at will. This is not something you want. It is not something to envy. It is pure and complete emotional control and a lack of emotions is defined as psychopath. In my case, it is selective psychopathy: an ability to choose to act while being completely devoid of all emotion.
I do not have a true case of psychopathy as mine is chosen. I do use it to deduce logically and without prejudice. I enter this state to examine self and my psyche so that I can fix it. It means, in order to get to the heart of the subject, I must “bare all,” which for me, is not a big deal. I predict, as my therapy progresses, I will care and will eventually feel shame or guilt for the things I have done.
This is where my passion for Ayn Rand comes in and I take full responsibility for my actions.
But one must always ask, Why. Why do I get these abnormally energetic states of euphoria? My mother had them. Is it genetic? Is it caused from an underlying psychological disorder? Is it curable? Is it a physical chemical imbalance that is hereditary? OMG! MY SON MAY HAVE IT!! No wonder I can’t keep up with the little inventor! Why he is “bored” too easily. What caused this? Can I fix this? Would I want to?
For further reading, have a look at Bipolar Disorder: A Complicated Disease With Significant Ramifications