I’m not going to talk about everything that came before so I will start by saying, my name is Sarah and I’m bi-polar. I loathe the word, synonymous, as it is, with celebrities shouting about it - which of course they would do, when they’re on an up (it’s in the very nature of the 2 headed beast to do so).
I was first medically diagnosed with it quite a few years ago - I called my friend on my way home (the one who inspired the ‘Merry Fucking Christmas’ range).
“I’m bi-polar” I said
“Duh” she said, and we laughed until tears ran down my face and our sides ached.
I told my mum who said that I couldn’t be bi-polar as her aunt had been hospitalised in the 50’s with manic depression and I simply didn’t fit the bill. So that was that.
I was sent to another psychiatrist for my anxiety a few years later and he mentioned the ‘bi-polar-i-ness’ of me, also telling me I could do ‘stand-up’ I was so funny. He didn’t cure the anxiety at all but put me on anti-psychotics for the bi-polar. Did I mention I’d had psychosis? A rollercoaster of singing to myself to stop the noises as I walked down the high street, the lights and sounds in Robert Dyas going trippy and my twins transposing faces in front of my eyes… I put on 9lbs in weight with the drugs I had to take for that event and I still can’t go into Robert Dyas without mentally ducking out of the way of its gaudiness (there’s a sentence you’ll not hear again).
So I have many mentals and they all live with me and my family and Sam here in the office and everyone is rather nice about it. I’ve been asked to describe both a low and a high by various people over the years so here goes for anyone who might be interested:
A low usually swirls around me like a dementor for a while before completely taking hold - it pushes me to check up on social media with acquaintances who are living better lives than me, it forces me to judge others harshly and demands I get angry at the slightest of perceived slights. I will try to push back on those days, get busy, do things, say things, feel things but then it descends and I’m lost to everyone until it leaves.
A low is a vacuum of joy. And by extension, I suck the joy from everything around me by simply existing. I try to stay out of people’s way because I can sense the smile fade from my husband’s face as he sees me and I can’t look at him, I feel the disapproval of others who think I’m ‘in a bad mood’ and as a mum, I tend to shy away from bringing misery into their worlds. Words, and there are thousands of them spilling from me at a rate of knots most of the time will dry up entirely when I’m low. I literally can not speak - I can’t stress this one enough; it feels like we are given x number of words to utter in our lifetime and when I’m on an up, I’ll use so many so quickly that the system denies for a while to catch up. I can’t talk. I don’t want to talk, I suck any words said to me into a void that swirls within me that’s dark and soundless and no cohesive response is available to me so I simply stop talking. Everything is deadened, colours muted, decisions pointless and people are better off without me.
A high is agitation, it buzzes and shakes and vibrates (I often have to take tranquillisers to calm it a little). Colours are vibrant, I’m on a roll and it’s when I press ‘go’ on all of the products I’ve been thinking about but don’t have the self belief to produce. I sparkle, I’m witty and erudite, I’m sociable and fun.
A high is sleep deprivation even with sleeping pills and it’s a very very tidy house, mind, body, life. It’s when I’ll take the ‘project attic empty’ on and manage it with aplomb. It’s when I can make fifty micro decisions in an hour and they’re all the correct decision. Unfortunately for any who happen to meet me during a high, it’s a coked up style cascade of words coming at you - usually with my life story attached (I have a lot of life in my story) and I can hear myself speak and think ‘oversharing there, better stop’ before continuing as the person seems genuinely interested… but I know a lot of kind people.
Being on a high is a superpower, it’s my superpower. Yes, there are some casualties; clothes bought online that are never worn, ill-conceived products never sold, people probably put off by the utter bollocks I can talk and sometimes I dread a high for the agitation, the panic it can induce if someone is talking whilst music is playing and I’m looking at a screen but I’d take it over a low any day.
Some days I’ll wake up feeling fine and will get to work thinking normality resides - it’s sometimes difficult to tell and every so often it will trick me - what seemed like a good day can suddenly turn to mute without warning and I’m lying on the sofa licking the wall thinking of nothing. What a wonderful rollercoaster is this thing called life.
I hope that it raises a smile or at least gives someone with this shitty superpower something in their armoury.
In the meantime, stay sane, stay focussed and, if there’s one piece of advice I could give, especially for your Monday mornings? Make your bed, even if it’s just to get back in!