Through Bipolar Eyes

Circa 2015; Green Eyed Lady

I sit here in my lair, clothes torn out of the closet, clothes cover the floor. Acrylic paints cover my desk along with important documents that are most likely covered in paint. Clean sheets remain folded awaiting their place back on my bed. Canvases cover my room with half finished products. Some have yet to be started. Some have holes and rips right down the center of perfectly well done drawings. My meds lay next to me with gaps for the days that I have rationed out my pills, picking and choosing what I have to take and what I don’t.

Some would call me trashy. Some would call me messy. Some would call me an artist. I call myself bipolar. Why do I call my bedroom ‘The Lair’? I call it that because it is my place of freedom. I don’t have to pretend to be someone I am not. Some would ask me why I keep my space so unclean. I blame it on the depression. It takes every fiber of my being to get out of bed in the morning sometimes, let alone go to work (when I am working), keep up personal hygiene, eat, hang out with friends, keep up with my coping mechanisms, let alone clean, do laundry, etc. I am at the low end of my cycle at the moment which means I am in a more depressive state than a manic one. I tend to describe bipolar disorder as a spectrum when I try to describe it to anyone, so below I have attached a photo for your understanding.

Ignore the scientific nonsense at the top, but focus on the color spectrum and the wavelength. Most people would associate the colors red, orange, and yellow, otherwise known as warm colors, as those to be associated with feelings of happiness, love, anger, etc. While colors blue, green, and purple, the cool colors, can be associated with feelings of sadness, resentment, bleakness, etc. It would also make sense that seasons such as winter are associated with these cooler colors and the feelings of humans tend to coincide with those listed above and that the warmer color spectrum is associated with summer time and the feelings that are listed with those red colors.

You may wonder how this can come together to help explain mood ranges with bipolar disorder. You see, the mania can be described in those warmer colors while the depression can be those cooler colors. There is such a thing as a “mixed state”, where you are manic and depressed at the same time and then you lie somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Your feelings can change as quickly as a passing thought with this strain of mental illness so your position on the spectrum can change accordingly.

You also may wonder where the frequency of the wavelength comes into play. More people have experienced extreme sorrow or bouts of depression so I shall begin with the cooler side of the spectrum. Although depression may feel as an extreme in itself, it actually can shrink your brain and effect your cogitative functions, which with a broader wavelength, it visually displays that your thoughts have slowed and erratic behavior isn’t as consistent with this state of mind. It also shows that sort of lethargic feeling you can get when you deal with chronic sadness. Your heart rate is slower and like on a heart rate monitor, you can see that the wavelengths there are broader and slower and the “beeps” become further apart. As for the mania, the exact opposite happens. Your heart rate increases, erratic behavior begins, and although your cognitive functions are effected, your thought process increases in speed, similarly to taking a stimulant, such as Adderall.

When I struggled with constant mood fluctuation between manic and depressed, my therapist recommended I track my moods. My idea to track my moods was to color code wave lengths on a graph. I placed time on the x-axis and throughout the day, I would track the peaks and valleys of my moods. The closer the waves were together, the more severe my mood changes were. The y-axis was color coded with the color spectrum. Blue was for depression at the bottom of the graph and red was at the top for the mania and a mixed state was somewhere in the middle. The wavelengths themselves would rise and fall in accordance to my moods and if I was in a mixed state, the line would be either red or blue to describe more so of what I was feeling. In my opinion, it was pretty ingenious and original, but it genuinely helped me to find my triggers. Usually something happened for my moods to fluctuate as they did, but I also learned my moods can change without there being any reasons behind it which is probably the most frustrating of all.

I truly think understanding the beast takes away the fear of it. It is just like learning anything new for the first time; it’s scary. But the more you know, the less it bites and becomes normal. I think when I was diagnosed four years ago I was scared because I didn’t have the proper resources or know anyone who had it. I was stuck with my clinical depression diagnosis and I clung to it because it was all I ever knew for the previous four years. Now going on almost ten years knowing that I assumed and was later diagnosed with some sort of mental illness, it feels like all I have ever known. It’s been half of my life, all of my formative years, adolescence, and now early adult years knowing that I am, well, crazy.

Sorry I shouldn’t say crazy, but sometimes that is the best word to use to describe some of my oddities and weird behavior. It has been a long road from age 14 to 22 and I ain’t done yet. In my next few posts, I will describe some of my coping mechanisms for my bipolar and although, they don’t always help, they are healthy outlets for me to express myself and hopefully you can get an idea for yourself or your loved ones to express your/themselves.

Til next time,

Dani

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