The Time // It Takes
I have bipolar disorder. The psychologists and psychiatrists I have seen tell me it’s a particular variant known as cyclothymia, or as it’s sometimes referred to, type 3 bipolar. I have known this for a long time now, although the NHS refuse to issue me a formal diagnosis, making accessing any specialised medication for it impossible. I have tried several types of non-specialised antidepressant medication, on which I dissociated, was sent into manic spirals, ruined what semblance of eating and sleeping patterns I had, and screamed until my throat was in agony. So, for years now, I have dealt with this through nothing other than the coping strategies developed via a lengthy period of outpatient psychotherapy.
On many days, this is enough, but on some it isn’t. On some, the bright light of living is fucking blinding. It’s too much to bear. On others there is simply no life to be derived from anything. I have heard cyclothymia referred to as ‘mild bipolar’, and while I only dread to think of the weeks-long nacrotic highs and deathly lows of type 1 bipolar; the thing about the third type is that things change so rapidly it can become impossible to orient yourself, pinballing from one mental state to the other while desperately trying to find a thread to hold onto.
Statistically, I am 20-30 times more likely than the average person to choose to end my life. Some sources say the suicide rates for those with bipolar disorder are as high as one in five. My chances of making it through life without voluntarily ending it are arguably less than if a neurotypical person put a round in the cylinder of a revolver, put the gun to their head and squeezed the trigger. I feel that pull frequently.
Every time I come out the other side of an ideation unscathed feels like a little victory. A smug middle finger to the wolf at the door. I’ve lived through countless attempts on my life and came out every single one (mostly) unscathed. A chill here, some cuts and bruises there. Fuck you, I lived. Sure, the person I’m saying that to is myself, but I’ll take that over death by my own hand. I am more powerful than some bullshit post about how men die because they don’t open up. I’m here, I’ve opened up and you’re all fucking silent.
Anyway, I’ve digressed. What is worst about bipolar isn’t any of this, but the time it takes from you. The amount of life you just lose in the churn. I can barely remember most of my 20s. I look back on photos and videos of that time and almost don’t recognise myself. And it is endlessly frustrating just to lose whole days, weekends, weeks to it. Time I could have spent making memories with my partner who means the whole fucking world to me, or writing music, or learning how to make the games I’ve always wanted to make; instead just desperately trying to find that thread.
I’ve wasted this weekend trying to find the thread. There will be other times. Hopefully I’m not going anywhere any time soon.