BIPOLAR ALMOST KILLED ME, WHY DO I MISS IT?
During the first 45 years of my life, I had many achievements that many people would have been happy with just one of them. Some of these successes included writing a children’s book and receiving honorable mention at the NYC Book Festival, starting a successful marketing & consulting company, opening & operating a popular nutrition store, and publishing two magazines. These were just some of the achievements I was able to accomplish. However, there was one thing in common,
during the rise of these successes, I was suffering a manic episode from my bipolar depression.
If bipolar mania was the catalyst of turning these ideas into realities within incredibly short time frames, then why was I “suffering” from bipolar? Reading this back to myself certainly doesn’t portray any suffering, but quite the opposite, right? Two things are important to keep in mind while reading on, firstly, I didn’t know that I was bipolar, and secondly, I had no idea that each new venture I started was destined to fail, which is where the “suffering” came in.
With these achievements, how could it be possible that my life had always consisted of living paycheck to paycheck and consistently starting a new venture or changing jobs? (I had over 35 jobs by the age of 48). Approximately every two years, I would live a very similar cycle. Wake up one day with an idea or job I felt like doing, and then I went and made it happen. I was full of motivation, exhilaration, energy, feelings of indestructibility, and confidence to leap over any obstacle. There was no pace other than warp-speed, and nothing could stop me, not even sleep. I rarely failed.
Then the “suffering” took effect and like clockwork, after I took whatever the venture was, to the peak of success, it set in and there was no stopping it, DEPRESSION. This was not just feeling down, but was debilitating and was a very dark and dangerous place to be. Getting out of bed became one of the most difficult things to do, and if I did out of bed, nothing good came from it.
In 2019 when I got another chance at life and was finally diagnosed with bipolar depression, it all made sense. I understood why all my successes were doomed from the start. I also was able to look back and realize how hectic and stressful my life had been for 35 years. Once I started getting treatment and began having a clear head for the first time in my life, I swore to myself, and my family, that I would never live in the frenzied and unhealthy world of bipolar again. I took a pledge of “simplicity.” I would get a steady job with a paycheck and live the “normal” life without risky behaviors, impulsiveness, and instability that came with bipolar. The cycle of mania and depression, ups and downs, would become a feeling of levelness. I would finally be able to live in the middle of the manic highs and depressive lows. I would be able to keep a job, maintain relationships, and create a life of stability.
At the time of writing this, I had been properly medicated for three years, which has helped me stay at my new job which has afforded me freedom, stability, and great compensation. Even though working for a corporate entity with management, rules and quotas has never worked out for me, I had to change my ways to honor my pledge of simplicity. It certainly helps without the cyclical bouts of deep depression which often led to my failing or getting fired from all my previous ventures.
Because I stay focused on my treatment and understand the importance of taking my medications, my mood swings and manic episodes are kept in check and stay manageable. Even though the medications haven’t stopped my creative thoughts and great entrepreneurial ideas that sometimes pop into my head, it has created a numbness to act on them. I have woken up and wanted to start my own business again, staying true to my childhood dream of never working in the corporate world, however the fire and desire to make it happen is gone.
Do I give up my dreams to live without the harsh effects of bipolar? Are my dreams even real or just unrealistic mirages caused by the forces of chemical imbalance due to my bipolar? Prior to the medications, part of the driving force to make the next venture successful was to move on from whatever I was currently doing. Very rarely was I able to keep interest in something longer than a year or two because like clockwork, the depression would set in, and it became time to ‘reset’. Knowing I had the ability to make my new ideas become reality, but not having the manic drive to step on the gas became very frustrating and difficult to cope with.
The only way that I can think to describe the frustration is to compare bipolar manic episodes to something highly addictive or a staple that would be difficult to live without. It could be drugs or gambling for some. We know they are not good for us, but it can be almost impossible to stop because of the way they make us feel because of the chemicals released by the brain during those activities.. For me, mania led to a feeling of invincibility, incredible drive and motivation, unsurpassed energy and confidence. That is what I miss. The medications numb those, but don’t make the ideas and desires go away. This causes an overwhelming constant frustration and I struggle every day. Do I fight the feelings and live in a quagmire of stability or take a risk to achieve ultimate happiness and satisfaction? The reality is that my current job is good for me in every way, but it is not what I’m passionate about.
Since I started treatment three years ago, I have a new dream and passion, which is to start a career sharing my experiences dealing with bipolar and using the successful parts of my cycles to emphasize and show that if I could achieve successes suffering from bipolar, then anyone can do it, especially not suffering from it. My dilemma is twofold. Do I take the risk and go for it and if so, how?
The old days I would quit my job and go full speed ahead, but since I don’t have the manic fuel propelling me, I have to learn to take baby steps and learn that it is possible to create new things
at a slower pace, all while keeping the stability I have been blessed to have. Follow my journey and we can learn together and even help one another.