The Third Side of My Bipolar Being’s Coin
© August 2, 2007
Richard O. Harris
Though not everyone can recognize depression especially when someone is trying to hide that depression, it seems that even fewer, in my opinion are capable of identifying mania. This may be because periods of mania are usually even easier to hide than periods of depression. After all, when you are the ‘life of the party’ everyone loves being around you or having you around.
The funniest, happiest, most jolly person buying all the drinks, making sure everyone is engaged, encouraging even the shyest member of the group to join the fun is rarely, if ever, going to be viewed as someone who has a ‘problem’. However, the underlying problems this individual faces of being afraid to be alone, uncertain of his/her own value to others, and usually the ever-growing debt (financial, physical, emotional, or any combination) this person incurs remains unseen fueling ever more drastic behavior. Of course, the Bipolar Being’s desperate striving to appear ‘normal’, to fit in with those around him/her, and to mimic what seems to be ‘acceptable’ behavior may cause those drastic increases to only be revealed by small degrees over long periods of time.
And yet, there remains a third side of my Bipolar Being’s Coin never addressed by any, including psychologists and psychiatrists alike. That side is what I have labeled as my ‘Between’ side and consists of all that lies between the head and the tail of the Bipolar Coin. I have, in “My Levels of Bipolar”, labeled three points on this Between Side of the Bipolar Being’s Coin.
These three points I am using primarily as a method of measuring the degrees of separation from one side of the coin to the other. While this is helpful to me, there are so many more degrees of separation between them that a Bipolar Being such as myself can get lost just trying to find air to breathe. This may explain, and it may not, the desire to focus on either the episodes of depression or those of mania and never learn how to address or live in the center.
In my opinion, the Bipolar Being ignores the center because it is so much more ‘boring’ than the two extremes. Professionals and others seem to busy or overwhelmed by whichever extreme is being displayed to take the time to look at the center. Whether trying to understand or prevent harmful actions of depression or participating and enjoying the fun of mania, the options available to both professionals and others remains limited by the Bipolar Being’s recognition of his/her current position as well as his/her willingness and ability to be honest about what is occurring.
From my experience, most Bipolar Being’s may not know themselves what is honestly happening especially in the center. I will admit here that I have, at times, been deliberately deceptive because I knew if I was honest about how close I was to suicide during an episode of depression I would be locked up. I will also admit I have been just as deliberately deceptive about some of the risks I have taken during an episode of mania and for the same reason (I may be crazy but I ain’t stupid).
I can make these admissions only after long years of abstinence from alcohol and other unprescribed drugs combined with intense therapy sessions, honest internal scrutiny, and support from others. Some of those others have known me all my life and some never knew me at all until I sought out their help. Many still do not know they have helped at all simply because I did not recognize the help I was receiving at the time and now that I do recognize it I do not yet know how to let them know they did help.
I will finally admit my gratitude towards these people has been one of the greatest sources of continued hope for me when I am experiencing one extreme or the other. I now search for help with the Between Side as these times scare me most of all. Fear is, for me, The Third Side of My Bipolar Being’s Coin.