What follows is a list of things that may or may not be revelations to those who do not suffer from mental illness. It is my fond hope that it may help those who want to better understand the inner mechanisms of someone with Bipolar and other mental illnesses. Did you know there are at least three types of the condition that need clarification:
* Bipolar Disorder I. This classification is indicated by the prevalence of mania. Mania can cover a gambit of things but the following is a list of the common symptoms. People with Bipolar 1 might have a prevalence of excessive enthusiasm or desire toward madness, excitement, euphoria, delusions, overactivity, and obsessions.People with Bipolar 1 (mixed) may experience longer terms of mania but has periods of depression.
* Bipolar II is defined by the prevalence of more depressive emotions to include
* Cyclothymic Disorder is defined by numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms as well numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years. This is more of a catchall diagnosis because the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.
* National Institute Of Mental Health
1. I worry that people will think I’m a fake.
Do I really have bipolar disorder, or is it just an excuse for acting crazy and getting away with it? Can I really not control some of my actions when I have a manic or depressive episode? Surely this is all just a ruse. These thoughts cause heaping loads of self-inflicted guilt, which nobody needs or wants to hear. But without the support we may turn to smoking, drugs or god forbid both. Reassurance is extremely important! Without it the cycle continues or can get worse until something bad happens.
2. I won’t always know what I need.
Do I need to be left alone? Or do I need company? More talking? Less talking? A therapy session? Medication adjustment? Time? Chocolate? Although most people might know exactly what they need and when, it is not the case for me. Often it’s trial and error to find out what will work during a particular depressive or manic episode. Sometimes it's too difficult to even try what will work. Anything we're addicted to may be the only thing we are up to doing at all. Patience is key.
3. I am a really, really good actor.
So good, in fact, I fool myself sometimes into thinking I’m not as sick as I am. My suicide attempts were an almost
out-of-body experience. The days leading up to it/them (over 20 years ago) I was faking happiness and well-being, so well I even fooled myself into denying I needed help. The whole time I was carrying out my plan, it was as though I was standing aside and watching from a distance. Why should I quit smoking when I was trying to die in the FIRST place! Encourage frequent and deep self-examination. Don't get mad if I tell you to F.O. I will turn to my addiction who understands.
4. It’s a whole different world inside my brain from what I let on.
Sometimes the struggle to maintain a semblance of normalcy requires every bit of energy I have. I don’t always have much left over for cooking, cleaning or the monumental task of quitting smoking. Your patience and help is, as ever, appreciated more than you know.
5. I worry constantly that I passed my “sick” genetics onto my beloved children.
My eye is always on the lookout for symptoms in my own children that signal any dangerous mental aberrations. I grieve deeply that they are at an increased risk for inheriting bipolar disorder and depression because of me. I wonder if the cause of my oldest son having Asperger's Syndrome or my youngest son's A.D.D. My mom still cries and wonders what she did wrong to cause this and that they didn't know I had it when I was a teenager or they would've gotten me help. I didn't find out until I was nearly 30 as it was rarely diagnosed correctly before then. My outlet to handle worry was to smoke.
6. I worry I may neglect my own loved ones by my need to check out occasionally, and that they will wind up resenting me.
Pretty self-explanatory here. Cigarettes never resent you. They have no feelings at all so you don't even have to think about it. As long as I was addicted to them I didn't have to face resentment from other sources. Quitting smoking may make me take a mental nosedive and a fear of resentment from others.
7. My heart is not bipolar, only my brain.
If you stick with me, I will love you passionately and eternally. My appreciation for you will increase exponentially when you bear with me during the difficult moments as I wrestle mightily with my disease, I am capable of deep and abiding affection. When I tell you I love you, don’t question my motives or sincerity, and I long to be accepted and loved in return, flaws and all.
As the saying goes "and now you know". This is not the definitive list of bipolar disorder's symptoms nor does it cover all the mechanisms used to manage them. Every person with bipolar has different norms, extremes, tendencies, coping strategies, and management. These can change from a millisecond to months or years at varying degrees. These are some very real looks into how those of us with the disease perceive the world, wish you really knew, and how they affect our quits. That isn't to say that we cannot quit smoking and/or stay smoke free and addiction free. We can! These hidden reasons CAN exasperate the process of quitting and living a life without cigarettes.
I'm 53 Days STRONG in my quit and will keep it close. The support of the entire EX community lifts me up at all times to help wade through the sludge that is my mind toward the life of being an ex-smoker.
BTW - Before they banned smoking inside medical facilities, let alone on the campus grounds do you have any idea how many people smoked in the psych ward? The last time (there were many) I was in lockdown ward (I never went on the kiddie ride of being able to go eat in the cafeteria or leave the ward for any reason) at least 50% of the patients smoked. Glad I never had to go back when that started. Besides, I met THE best people in the world in the smoking room!