Tag Archives: bipolar anger

When your so good at hiding your bipolar symptoms, you even hide them from yourself

I was diagnosed in my mid-20s. I’ve at least grown considerably since then. One thing I’ve grown in but have not yet mastered, is self-awareness. Probably every therapist I’ve been to, and I’ve been to many, have told me that I am not self-aware.

I’ve never been a devil-may-care kind of person. I worked incredibly hard to get into university, at university (I played hard too), and during my time climbing the corporate ladder. I’ve been described by various people throughout my life with the following terms: perfectionist, hard working, smart, diligent, trustworthy, friendly, respectful etc. Ie, not someone who says skrewit and does something irresponsible because they want to. I had to be all these things. I had to work my ass off, because I know I had no safety net. I knew I’d have to pave my on way. And I did, at the cost of my own sanity.

Because while I was all of these things, I had a dark side too. Everyone has a dark side, but when you have bipolar disorder it’s even darker. I smoked and started drinking at 15. I think I wrote my first poem about death at 14, because that was the first time I wanted to kill myself. Everywhere I turned I tried to talk to grown-ups about what I was feeling, but I couldn’t, I didn’t know how. No one saw the signs. No one was LISTENING. No one saw me crying myself to sleep every night. Because I learned to put on that smile. I wasn’t even pretending that everything was okay, it WAS okay.

Fast forward to adulthood, diagnoses, and my teenage years finally making sense. I’ve been in psychiatric clinics three times. Twice I did the whole 3 week full programme. Different clinics, different doctors. And here’s the crux:

  • Week 1: Hang around kind of disinterested, attend groups, make intellectual arguments, not sure why I’m even there, tell the doc I’m wasting everyone’s time. Another patient even looked at me and said perplexed “Why are you here, you look so HAPPY?” My answer? A smile.
  • Week 2: Cry. Whether it is at a group session, dining room, with a doctor or getting my meds, I cry. I can’t stop. I cry in the shower and I cry myself to sleep. Whether or not you give me drugs, I cry and I can’t stop crying. I don’t want to see anyone I know either. I don’t want to see anyone, actually. I write letters to my inner child. I feel like I’m physically dying from the pain I feel on the inside.
  • Week 3: The crying lessens and stops. I feel like a load has been lifted. My meds start working. I start sitting outside and talking shit with the smokers. I laugh with everyone about my crying marathon.

And this has twice been my unplanned process. Why? Because I am not self-aware. I do not see my signs, or I think that it’s not THAT bad. I put on my smile and I suppress everything that I know my world can’t handle. Everything I CAN’T feel, because my little card house will then fall apart, again. So I get smashed, self-harm, listen to music I know is actually triggering, and try to drink and cut out my anger. Because I don’t know how to exernalise it.

Here is the point of this whole thing: Why do we internalise, and why do we put on our happy masks every day so that it becomes so natural we can’t take it off? For the ones we love. Because we know they want to understand but they can’t. And they want to be supportive but even those who understand the full impact, don’t really. In my case, when I get criticised like again today I want to yell: “It’s because I’m BIPOLAR, asshole! And you know that.” But I just smile, make a little joke, and walk away.

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Bipolar disorder, anger, obsessive thoughts and impulse control – a vicious circle

*Trigger warning: Some mention of self-harm in the last paragraph*

The past few days have been a bit tense in my country in general and my town particularly. We have all kinds of racial hatred, terrible crime and division going on. I am quite liberal, which suited my previous city life well. Back in my hometown, there are a lot of opinions and mindsets that I don’t handle so well. And thanks to social media and my inability to stay off it, I’ve gotten myself into a messy head space. I have been ‘lightly’ triggered, if you will.

I remember when I was a teenager, having obsessive, intrusive thoughts drove me to curl into a little ball and cry. I did not understand it. The more I tried not thinking about something (or someone), the worse it became. I was convinced that I had some kind of demon thing inside me. It was extremely embarrassing. If I had found professional help and been honest, I might have been wrongly diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. But the compulsions are not nearly as bad as the obsessions. Thanks to a decent medicinal cocktail, the worse of these thoughts disappeared after my mid-20s. I when I was first hospitalised, the doctor asked me these questions about racing thoughts, hearing voice, delusions etc. I remember that I told him that I didn’t actually see or hear anything outside of myself with my sense, but that in my head it was like my thoughts were being screamed at me. By a man in a tuxedo…. That pretty much locked down the diagnosis.

So anyway to bring these titbits together: we all have our triggers. One of mine is people spewing hatred and intolerance. And whether it is a personality thing or a bipolar impulse control thing, I don’t have much of a filter. Plus, which is definitely an impulse control problem, I can’t stay off social media and begrudgingly waste years of my life on it. And then these people’s backwards views, my inability to keep my mouth shut and then getting involved in arguments where I feel I am banging my head against a brick wall, completely enrages me. And then I obsess over that anger, and the trigger. I have hypothetical conversations with people in my head that just enrage me more, because how can these hypothetical people also not see my point of view?! And so this cycle just goes on and on. I’ve been prescribed Urbanol now (due to my…love of benzos, Drs don’t like giving them to me), and it’s helped, but not enough.

Today, even though the dust has settled slightly, my thoughts feel too loud. I am trying to work and I am also writing an exam on Friday that I have not studied for yet, but I can’t focus. And I definitely can’t afford not to work since I am still busy with the project I’m suppose to pay my month’s rent with. I’m angry at myself for getting so caught up in all the negativity, and angry at the world for being so fucked up. I’m also teary and tired and feeling extremely sorry for myself. And then of course there is the absolute fear of two/three days becoming a full blown episodes. Also, I sort of had a little slip in the self-hard department just over a week ago. Okay, so it totally was a slip, but a small one. That can also count as compulsive behaviour/addiction, btw. At my worse it was so bad that I was literally compelled to cut myself every day. But that’s over. This was the first (and last) time in over a year. I was a little upset and obsessed about something else entirely that I’m not talking about.

One can easily see a little pattern emerge, and it’s not pretty. And once you are totally sucked in, you’re in some real trouble. So I am off to obsess about how to break this cycle. Any ideas are welcome!