Escaping Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is an inescapable mistress. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you work, no matter how many medications you take, she is always there, ready to hit you over the head with a 2 X 4. True, some people are lucky enough be experiencing remission. In that case, the mistress is forced to take a few steps back. But for people not in remission, people in full-blown bipolar disorder, that mistress is relentless. Every minute of every day she steals your brain and makes life unbearably painful.
And I have found that if you also happen to be bipolar and anhedonic, almost nothing allows you escape from that reality. Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure and when truly anhedonic, no matter what you do, no matter how theoretically pleasurable that activity is, you will not feel that pleasure – no matter what. This is a concept that most people cannot fathom but believe me, an inability to feel pleasure is real.
I have, however, found one tiny escape. It’s something I do all the time. It’s a little embarrassing, actually. I manipulate physical sensations and responses. Yes, I have orgasms.
Bipolar and Fantasizing
I have a very active imagination. When I close my eyes, whole worlds exist in great detail. And my favorite worlds exist in fantasy.
I once talked about thought-boxing, which is the idea that your brain and its thoughts can exist in a sandbox where they are tightly contained and nothing exists outside the acceptable limits of the sandbox. In other words, only some thoughts are permissible and everything else (like depressive thoughts) exist outside the sandbox.
Well for me, fantasizing is like that. When I fantasize I know exactly what will happen. I know the storylines, I know the people, I know the actions and I know it’s very, very safe. And when the thoughts are of vinyl and leather and short, plaid skirts, they arouse me. They arouse me in spite of myself. I don’t necessarily feel sexual but thinking sexually, playing sexually, will arouse me anyway. I suppose fantasies involve manipulation of the mind which overrides some of the signals of the brain.
And I can exist in that world for one hour, two hours, three hours. And in those hours all the horrible thoughts coming from my brain put there by the bipolar quiet for a little while. A fully-featured fantasy can push out thoughts that seem to be so strong that they can’t be pushed out in any other way.
Bipolar and Orgasms
And then, yes, fantasies lead to the inevitable. And what I can say about that, is that even when I feel very sick, even when I feel very suicidal, even when all I want is to stop breathing, that climax makes me forget about that for a few seconds. For a few seconds I’m actually not some crazy, sad, depressed, crying, bipolar chick. For a few seconds I’m a raw nerve of unadulterated energy. It’s beyond relief. It’s a miracle.
Now, I can’t promise that everyone can have an orgasm as, unfortunately, that is one of the things that medication can steal from us, but we all can fantasize. We all can live outside ourselves for a few minutes. If it seems impossible, I understand, but it does work – really. Practice for a bit. That skill is there. It’s like breathing safe air for a short time. And sometimes all there is to look forward to is a minute of something other than pain.