I’ve always been a kind of a ‘go with the flow’ kind of guy. Even when I’m not manic, things just happen and I go along. Of course, when I’m manic it goes over the top. But if it feels good; do it. If it’s fun, enjoy it. If asked out, go. If I want to go out, ask. If there are any offers, take them.
But that’s really not healthy. And I’m working very hard to be healthy.
The funny thing about drifting into things, it seems to be totally unconscious. If I were to think things through I’d be making different choices. But there’s a part of my brain that just goes on autopilot. There is no thought of consequences in the moment, I just dive right in. It doesn’t matter what the risks are, I just live in the moment. Like driving home drunk; that was a really stupid decision, but at the time it never crossed my mind to do it any differently. It was time to go home, and I went.
But I usually regret doing things like that, and I feel terrible about myself when I do. I should really know better, but it’s like my brain shuts down when at times like that. It’s almost like a split personality. I have my ‘conscious’ life where I take care of things like work. But even then I have my ‘automatic’ moments. When I’m talking to coworkers or even on the phone with customers things just seem to fall out of my mouth that really shouldn’t be said. And then there’s my social life. This is when I’m probably the most true to myself. I may not always admit everything (Like being bipolar) but how I interact with people is genuine. And then there’s the thoughtless person when it’s just stimulus / response.
And then there’s the OCD. That is a combination of the conscious and unconscious. I am aware of what I’m doing; it just seems that I’m powerless to stop. It can be something totally innocent and simple. A number of years ago, I got it in my head that I wanted a dress hat. I’ve always loved that look, and even though it’s not the style anymore, I had to have one. I spent weeks going from store to store and traveled to four or five different counties trying to find just the right one. But, when it came right down to it, when it came time to actually buy something, I’d get embarrassed (I have no idea why) and I’d bolt from the store. Then I’d be on to the next store to try again. I never did get that hat, but I spent months obsessing about it.
But this is one of the reasons I’m in therapy. I guess that’s kind of a fourth persona there. I am more aware of my different behaviors and really focus on understanding the why’s and how’s, and learning how to deal with them. One of the things my therapist has suggested is that the way I suppress my feelings is why I get into that mode. I have more or less always pushed any emotion down and not allowed to feel much of anything. The only real except to this is after my fourth wife and I split. I was unemployed, spending my time alone seven days a week with nowhere to hide and no distractions to keep me from thinking. I couldn’t avoid all the agony and pain. The funny thing is though, dealing with it that way helped me get over it and put it behind me. Go figure.
I often wonder how it is for others. I wish sometimes that I could get into someone else’s head just to see how they really think. Do they have the non-thinking behaviors? What does it feel like to actually feel? Are my obsessions more common than I think they are? How does their brain really work? What’s a typical day for them?
And then there’s the flip side of that. How would someone not suffering from a mental illness do if they were living my life? Would they freak out at the way my thoughts flow? Would it be scary when the dark thoughts came? Of course I’ll never know, but I’ll bet that if a ‘normal’ person knew how hard it was to be bipolar it would be completely overwhelming. It’s only because I’ve had a lifetime to deal with it that I’m able to deal with it myself. And even that’s questionable.
But it’s been said, and I’ve said it before too; the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. I’ve spent most of my life doing the same things over and over, and surprisingly enough, the results haven’t changed. But maybe I’m getting a little wiser as I get older and will continue to get these reactions under control and work on my feelings.
Because I may be crazy, but I’m not insane.