The Other Side of Mania: A Bipolar Story

I’ve had enough bursts of CRAZY throughout my life to write a book about but today is not that day so…I’d just like for you to treat this as an apology letter.

See these bursts of crazy have been happening for many years but I guess high school is the first time that the shit hit the proverbial fan. I went to four high schools (and no…not one for each year). In form one I was suspended from school on the second week because apparently I slapped the shit out of our class monitor for writing my name on the noisemakers list two seconds into preps to which I ended up digging half an acre of land in school with a blunt panga (machete). I used to have short fuses. Now I just have short fuses that I suppress. Apparently in the second school I was expelled for ‘starting a strike’ and the third for ‘leading a strike’ AGAIN. In my defence I didn’t but since I was always that troubled child it was easier to blame me for strikes and expel me. I don’t refuse that I was always the naughty child in school. In my second school I slept more than I went to class (some teachers didn’t even know me) and in the third school I was caught a couple of times drinking alcohol in school. My mum wanted to die, she could never imagine of having such a child. To make matters worse, I used to throw tantrums in school and continuously hit my head on a wall until I felt better about myself.

Television, film, cinema has really distorted our perception of bipolar disorder and especially mania. Mania to most of us looks like an endless state of joy and euphoria marked by an endless stream of productivity and creativity but that couldn’t be further from the truth. While for some people mania is a euphoric episode for others, mania is characterized by aggression, irritability, temper tantrums, distractibility and a knack for engagement in high risk activities with a potential for painful consequences.

Before my mum took me to the fourth school, I had such a bad episode of depression that I tried and failed to kill myself four times. I tried cutting myself up, hanging myself, overdosing on drugs and I think I even tried to pray myself to death. But I honestly didn’t know what was worse…being treated for depression or drinking myself silly and trying to kill myself. I had pain. Not pain in my body but more of pain in my soul.

People who suffer from bipolar disorder are known to have a bout of depression shortly after the mania has subsided and this is what makes bipolar…bipolar. Bipolar mood disorder is characterized by periods of deep, prolonged, and profound depression that alternate with periods of an excessively elevated or irritable mood known as mania.

Anyway to cut this story short I’m sorry it’s all in my head I mean, it’s not as important as the cancer in your body and syphilis on your genitals.

I’m sorry that in between my long crazy moments where short bouts of manic behaviour which included, me throwing a knife at my sister and injuring her, me bitch slapping a number four mat driver because he fucking reversed just as I was about to cross the road and lastly, me overtaking, blocking the road, parking in the middle of the road and hitting a Double M driver for driving like an idiot. These (unfortunately) were my moments of strength when I forgot the danger of my actions and acted out on my emotion.

Another crazy moment was when I was twenty four and my boyfriend of five years broke up with me. The breakup was horrible. For heaven’s sake I had given him five years of my life, told him my deepest secrets and we were actually engaged to be married. I suffered a bout of major depression that I never went to hospital to sort out seeing as my experience with ‘crazy meds’ before was a nightmare for me. Depression is characterized by a prolonged sad mood, markedly diminished pleasure or interest in nearly all activities, significant weight loss or gain or significant loss or increase in appetite, hypersomnia (excessive sleep) or insomnia (no sleep), destabilized psychomotor skills (this is when your brain and body need to work together; hand –eye coordination is distorted), loss of energy or fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, decreased concentration ability or indecisiveness, preoccupation with death or suicide; this is a plan or has attempted suicide

I am sorry I don’t look crazy, sorry I’m erratic. Sorry I shouldn’t even be talking about my mental illness after all it’s just a way to get everybody’s attention. I’m sorry for how many different ways I have thought of killing myself. Now I’m thirty two going on thirty three and I’m currently sitting on a hospital bed writing this. It’s been years of being told that I suffer from depression and the many ways I could kill myself. Oh the many ways I could go. How cool would it be if I jumped out of our balcony and for a minute flew like Clark Kent before I hit the ground to my death or what if I slit my wrists, or maybe I light up a jiko and do what my friend did…silently and patiently wait for the carbon monoxide to give me an out of body experience…no! Wait, I think driving fast and into a pole or lorry would be really dope. High adrenaline rush and a quick death.

It all started 11 months ago when I got severe panic attacks that I sort help for. Interestingly, I was put on bipolar medication even before I was diagnosed with bipolar. Today the doctors are sure I’m bipolar and many things make sense now. Of my past behaviours of all the times I’ve almost gotten into fights, of all the times I didn’t want to see the world and of all the times I felt suicidal.

I’m sorry I didn’t plan on when my next outburst/low would be. I should have checked schedules before I inconvenienced anyone. I mean can’t you just fucking get yourself together…why are you such a drama queen and why do you keep talking about killing yourself and never really go through with it. That is so needy…I mean I have ten thousand other things to work on, I just can’t keep listening to your sad depressing stories.

I’m sorry I’m feeling sorry for myself. I’m sorry I get confused, forget a lot and sometimes I’m just not coherent. I’m sorry I am starting to accept that Bipolar is me. I’m sorry that I have to apologize for all this but what saddens me the most is that the society tries to hide us, makes us feel ashamed of our diseases. Kwani! Si you just pray yourself out of this curse?

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The Author is Anonymous.