“I grudgingly write to you while being stormed on by a daunting, dark, opaque cloud of a mental affliction that has chafed every atom of my racing mind a trillion times a second every second for about 21,000 seconds: six hours. The clouds come and go on a weekly basis—lots looming through lost, lonely, loud, long-lasting hours, while others unravel at light-speed with a trigger, only to end up biting the bullet(s) a mere second or minute later—but, while the marks and stains always find themselves etched away in the washing machine, their memories (both for me and for those whom I pull into such storms) never fade.”
A trident yanked in and out of my chest at the speed of a full-throttle Boeing 747 as I wrote that paragraph, so please know that this post isn’t one of those boring, teen-drawing, you can overcome life’s hurdles! articles with hollow optimism and a human identity forever lost in the blurred line between everybody and nobody. Being a decidedly introspective young adult whose goals include soaking up the world and extrapolating meaning from and enjoying its endless experiences, I write to you today—with the flaccid writing structure of a well-cooked noodle—to discuss some of my issues, worries, and flaws, as I know many of you subscribers will be able to relate. A few of my acquaintances will probably leave the usual hate comments because they think I’m being a “pussy” for doing this but that’s okay because many would say that they are absolutely wrong; it’s easy to be a “cool” teenage dude—i.e. a cold, stoic, perpetually indifferent teen who tries to act “hard” (one that will eventually realize his existential insignificance and then eventually decide to make more sacrifices for others, so we can’t permanently judge that archetypal “dude”)—and I quickly got tired of wearing that persona when I could be altruistic, courageous enough to be vulnerable, and a potential influence to others. Hence I write about this stuff to inspire, empower, and empathize.
If I’ve already lost your attention span, feel free to close this post. Check it out when you’re less occupied by your thoughts or current schedule—or just don’t look at it at all (and I’d completely understand as I know what it’s like to be driven by a perpetual internal mental monologue that holds no sacred vow for attention).
People will criticize me for opening up so much in this post. Others will pity me for not succumbing to the infinitely frightening fact that the impending world will judge me for my every published word. I can think of specific friends with similar issues (as mine) who will hate that I posted about such issues here. Some people just want to hole up and be esoteric. In fact, part of me will bicker at myself for talking about a taboo topic like mental health, so I’m even saying no to a part of myself today. No, you chaotic fragment of my diluted thoughts that lunges for my heels and pulls me down into your churning cave of fear and sorrow, I will not succumb to your fate this time.
Let me go ahead and tell you that I have diagnosed issues with bipolar type I (the worst type, of course), anxiety, and ADHD; also, I haven’t received a professional opinion on social anxiety but I’m 99.9% sure I have that too. I’m not going to prance around and tell you I’m an afflicted little millennial who needs a safe space and your sympathy, but I do mention these issues ’cause they contribute to my life in many palpable ways. My most daunting diagnosis, the infamously atrocious and destructive of my “quick! I need a pill to bottle this feeling up” clients, is this story’s focal point.
I cooled off and now write to you with a clear mind—my contemptuous clouds of calamity are gone for the time being.
I decided last week to write this type of post amid my next s0-called “bipolar meltdown”; so, it’s pretty much an experiment. The first part, written by a despicable, manic-phased Luke, provides an introduction and shows my mind being visibly plagued by a disorder that sees me lose myself in millions of thoughts per minute, exhibit bottomless energy, make risky decisions, rant for hours, stay awake until the wee hours of the morning (even when I’m as tired as possible), and destroy friendships. The second part, written by a relatively stable Luke who has recovered from the meltdown and returned to his normal senses, attempts to explain his bipolar struggle and then move on as a stronger, more mature person. This dichotomous psychological post was, in a Kanye West type fashion, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
The biggest difference between part 1 and reality is that you can’t alter reality with a delete button. I was able to, in real time, make sure what I said made sense and also keep in check, to some extent, the cynical things I typed out in the creation of that crazy first part. But reality doesn’t coddle you up and idealize you like that. When I go through a crisis like the one I just encountered, the people around me really experience—and never forget—my illogical, crazy, and unpredictable wrath. And a minute after it all blows over, I may be perfectly normal again, but I’ll know how evil and empty it made everyone, me included, feel… furthermore, even my most overzealous attempts to apologize and reconcile things tend to leave others with a sour taste at the corners of their tongues.
What caused my so-called bipolar meltdown in part 1 doesn’t even matter. From trailing a slow walker to receiving a call while I’m focusing on something to getting cut off on the highway to not being quickly waited on at a restaurant to a stressful situation to an opinion I don’t like to a petty joke to being frustrated while on the soccer field to no real reason at all (a spontaneous occurrence), lots of things can send me into this fearsome, overly-confident state of death. Of course, these triggers are only heightened when I’m stressed (AKA almost always) or sleep-deprived (AKA almost always), so managing those two levels is paramount to my every moment.
It’s easy to sculpt a nice and flattering image of yourself on social media—as many love to point out—and I can’t peacefully sleep knowing that those of you who’ve encountered my fake sculpture more than my real self (especially you blog followers who don’t know me) may not realize how evil, angry, and cynical I am at times. I just want to be at a point where I can truly reflect myself to others, in person and online. My close friends know me for being friendly, open-minded, and passionate, while some who’ve encountered me at poor times would prefer the antonyms bitter, close-minded, and passive; the way I’m perceived has, in far too many cases, gambled on the flip of a coin—the hand of insanity that makes a living out of grabbing my wrist at undesirable times. And once you feel its elusive, despicable, slimy grip, you cannot outrun it any more than your own shadow.
Enough about the anger. Have you seen the final drum solo in the movie Whiplash? It reminds me of myself at times: a frightening, intense, heart-pounding thriller that leaves you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next. I’m the energetic entertainer. I’m the mysterious man. I’m the crazy character. Nobody really knows or pursues me, but they enjoy my presence if even for a moment. Paradoxically, my life is very much an integrated and isolated one.
I don’t think a lot of people know that my hyperactive nature, which is sometimes loved in social settings, is actually due to my bipolar issues; I don’t merely drink a Red Bull and get hyped every time I plan to interact with humans. It’s literally due to the structure of my brain! In fact, returning to the “heart-pounding” adjective I assigned to the amazing drum solo from Whiplash (which you should click on right now if you didn’t earlier), this attribute resonates with my life because I am sometimes left awake, frozen and idle, in my bed at night listening to the beat of my heart. Yeah, I sometimes experience heart palpitations, and my crazy, overactive, bipolar lifestyle is a cause for this tangible product.
Which of my feelings are real? Which of the me’s is me? The wild, impulsive, chaotic, energetic, and crazy one? Or the shy, withdrawn, desperate, suicidal, doomed, and tired one? Probably a bit of both, hopefully much that is neither.
– Kay Redfield Jamison, clinical psychologist and author of An Unquiet Mind.
I know I am happy and fun and cool more than 95% of the time, but the void in what’s left of that percentage is occupied by a treacherous demon. I could go on and on about the myriad ways in which being bipolar affects me, but, in a TL;DR nutshell, it often causes me to alternate between long hyper and angry states. So I’m left clutching the two-a-day 300 mg reins of my future, it would seem. And sometimes I sit around empty and depressed too, confined to my bed while listening to the band Beach House and questioning my existential purpose—but I’ll save that stuff for another time.
May is “Mental Health Month” and I wrap this post up now, in June, because I want to help usher in the notions that literally billions of people suffer from mental health issues and that we should try to be comfortable around these topics (one could also argue that I didn’t post this earlier because I’ve been watching too much Game of Thrones and Mr. Robot lately, but, for formality’s sake, let’s stick with my fabricated explanation).
I’ve had my own diagnosis for about two years now (bipolar, as in my case, is often not identified until the person reaches adult status), and it was a crazy experience seeing my childhood self slowly transform into an absurd, different, and—at times—unappealing figure. I see how I showed symptoms while growing up, but they’re definitely more pronounced now that I’m an adult. And I’m not going to lie to you and say that I take pride in my bipolar disorder per se, but I now accept it as part of myself and—due to that—I wouldn’t ever want to change it.
To quote my man David Foster Wallace, “Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else.” Some of you, whether you know it or not, are dealing with bipolar tendencies or disorder too. You might feel like you’re absolutely alone, as I have many times, but others definitely share your struggles; there are an estimated three million bipolar Americans. Every case is unique, and we will eventually treat each with reciprocal “unique” care.
This is not a dissertation; it is a cyclone of manic thoughts that I cranked out on a hot Texas day. What are three takeaways? The dire stigma of mental health is an evanescent tear of the eyes of ignorance; these personal testimonies will wipe that tear away; and I send my support to all who are affected by mental health in some way—AKA billions of you. After all, each of us is a perfectly imperfect human.
Thanks for reading and please squeeze those precious seconds of your day to like, comment, reblog, and follow if possible.