As I look back on my life I realize now that I have been bi-polar my whole life. I was finally diagnosed about 12 years ago, but the signs were there at an early age.
I remember lying in bed crying for no reason, and my mom, not understanding, gave the usual remarks of “What’s this about?” “Stop it!” and “Grow up”. But there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Back then (mid 1960’s) bi-polar wasn’t a diagnosis yet. They used the term “manic-depressive” for adults but for an eight year old boy, it was “just a phase”.
But I never grew out of “that phase”. In my high school years, I would still have times of uncontrollable crying and depression. I just learned to hide them better. Plus I had a record player that I turned up real loud to mask any sounds. There would be days I hid in my room listening to music. I would leave for school, only to stop somewhere and wait for my parents to leave for work and go back home. The only reason I passed high school is I have an uncanny knack at test taking. Plus the curriculum of the 70’s was so repetitious it was easy to catch up on the days I did go.
Since my diagnosis I’ve gone through many different medications, psychiatrists and a therapist. Nothing has ever brought me to what I would consider “normal”. I seriously doubt anything can. While I have had quite strong suicidal thoughts, I have never acted on them. BUT, I do have the constant feeling that the world would have been much better had I never been born. (It should be noted that I was not a planned pregnancy. My parents took a second honeymoon and brought me home. As I am quite a bit younger than my three siblings, they were mostly out of the house by the time I was a teenager. I got to go on RV trips with my parents that they never did. And while some of them were jealous of that fact, they never had to feel the “odd man out” vibe I received. There were many discussions I over heard when they thought I was sleeping, “We can’t go there with him” and such.) My wife seems to think that this mental status means I would rather be dead than married to her. Nothing is farther from the truth. She is a rock and the main reason I have not committed any rash acts. What it does mean is that, if I had not been born she could have found a better man to marry. Someone who didn’t drag her all around, going from Army base to Army base. Her children with this other man would have had a better chance at college and more opportunities in life. I am nothing but a boat anchor holding everyone down.
There is also a fair amount of social anxiety mixed in as well. I’m rather introverted (this blog is a major and difficult step for me). I do not care for parties or crowds, I won’t even attend the office lunches here at work. Small talk frightens me. Being a “geek” of types (I do work in an IT department), I am not one to introduce myself to someone in a non-work environment. And women? Forget it! Think Raj on Big Bang Theory. Unless I am forced into a conversation with a woman (such as a server or co-worker) I just stand back and do my best not to stare.
So the meds keep me from major depression, but not by much. I still tend to drink too much. But according to my late mother in law, I’m a “happy drunk”. So to me at least, beer does improve my mental state. At least for a while. If I am an alcoholic (which I do probably qualify as) it would be a “High Functioning Alcoholic” (is that really a thing?). I have no alcohol related incidents, I do not miss work or family time due to my drinking and have never placed beer above the requirements of my family (paying the bills etc.). I can, and have, gone without beer when I thought the cost could be put to better use. And no, I will not go to an AA meeting. So don’t tell me to.
I’ve read a few books on bi-polar. However they were all written from the outside. That is they are for people who have to deal with bi-polar people in their families or elsewhere. Nothing I’ve found has been written by a bi-polar person that describes what they’re going through and how they are coping with the disease. If you know of such a book, please leave a comment with the title so I can find it.
So what is a high functioning alcoholic bi-polar person to do? Leave a comment if you wish. And I hope I didn’t depress you.