Breakthrough Bipolar Events
I was driving in my car yesterday morning, groceries in the back, a freshly frothed latte in the front, when I flipped to a radio station, heard one line of a song and started crying. The song lyric is inconsequential; I knew that then and know it now. What is consequential is that my bipolar disorder heard the song and used it as an excuse to be upset. My depression, my loathing, creeping, squirming depression, popped its fucking head up and made me burst into tears for no reason on a perfectly functional Wednesday morning. I had a breakthrough bipolar event.
The Erosive Power of Bipolar Disorder
The problem with bipolar disorder, on a day-to-day basis, is that it is always there, hiding, lurking in the shadows, ready to leap out and strangle you when you least expect it. You know it. You occasionally glance at the problem and maybe even worry about it; but it never goes away. Even on an average day, even on an average good day. Even on an average good day where nothing of note occurs, it is there and it can destroy what you’ve spent months (or more) building.
This problem, as I see it, grinds you down. It acts as erosion on your mind and soul. It is extremely difficult to live with. Because there is no warning. There is no flashing light or message that says, “Warning. Changing radio stations now will result in tears. Proceed with Kleenex.”
And the tears, which may not sound that bad, are accompanied by thoughts. Thoughts that end in self-loathing and maybe even suicidal ideation. From a radio station.
Yes, Bipolar Disorder is Irrational
Yes, this is completely irrational and if you’re not crazy then I suspect you really won’t get it but all the positive self-talk in the world doesn’t stop these breakthrough bipolar events from occurring nor does it make them disappear once they occur. Sitting in my car I know my brain is broken. I know it’s lying to me. I know it’s acting irrationally. But the pain is real. Real, real, real. And the pain is so unbelievably tiring.
Advice on the Random Bipolar Break
And I don’t know what to say about the phenomenon of the bipolar breakthrough event. I want to offer you hope, or advice, or sage wisdom, or something, but I can’t. All I can say is that it’s hard and that I hate it. I hate living under its threat and I hate it when it happens. All I can do is commiserate because I know it’s happening to all of you too. I know you know what it’s like to lose the will to live over a radio station switch. I know you know what it’s like to feel like such an idiot for not being able to stop crying over something that should mean nothing.
I guess what I can say is this: acceptance of this fucked-upedness is part of what bipolar disorder is about. Acceptance that life is going to be like this, probably forever (in my case) and that this is just the price you pay for being alive is part of the gift that isn’t bipolar disorder. I have to live with the threat of breakthrough bipolar events and try to ebb and flow with them when they occur. And try not to beat myself up for falling victim to them. Because there is nothing to be done about them. We can fight, and I do, we can therapy, which I have, and we can learn all we want to about this disease, but in the end, there are some things that we can’t stop. And it feels like 40 grit sandpaper against my delicate bits of flesh. But it is what it is. The pain is real. And it comes. And we just have to keep going anyway.
About Natasha Tracy
Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.