Okay, I’ll confess. I haven’t got a clue.
So much of my writing lately has been on how well I’ve been doing, and the progress I’ve made over the past year. And there’s no denying that my health has improved dramatically. But has it really improved, or am I just getting better at covering the symptoms? My behavior is by and large, ‘normal’. I’m making good choices (for the most part), not losing control of my emotions, and keeping the extreme mood swings in check. To all outward appearances, I’m no different from anyone else.
But the dark side is still there.
I feel a little bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I go through my day to day activities in a reasonable and productive way. Especially in the company of others such as at work or with friends I not only behave appropriately, but I feel appropriate. I don’t even think about being bipolar most of the time; I’m just normal. There’s always the problem with staying focused, particularly at work, but I don’t think that will really improve without medication. That’s something I’ve discussed with both my therapist and my Dr. A byproduct of the OCD is a lack of focus. The Antidepressant I’m on helps, but I may need a little more help in that area. Regardless, it’s really going well. I haven’t made any really outrageous faux pas at work. I’m being healthy and open in the relationship I’m developing. Or maybe the relationship I’m ending; I may be healthy in my approach, but I’m not sure the relationship is. But even that is an improvement. I’m aware of my situation and conscious of my decisions. My friends, my family, even my therapist all have noticed the progress.
So what’s the problem?
My brain is hardwired with my illness. Just modifying my actions doesn’t change the way I think. Even though the medications I’m taking have reduced the extremity of the mood swings, the swings are still there. The base instincts that have influenced and driven my life over the years haven’t changed.
This is especially evident when I’m alone.
I’m not acting out as much as I have at times, but I still find my thoughts sliding into areas where they shouldn’t be. I’m not saying I’m an axe murderer or anything; that would be ludicrous for me. It’s actually hard to describe, but there is darkness and abnormal thought process that continues. I am obsessive. Not in the drive to wash my hands or constantly check door locks, but I get an idea in my head and it sticks, rolling over and over, building in intensity and disturbance. And the music in my head is loud again. That never really goes away, but it does grow in volume and repetitiveness. The conversations with myself are still there too. Not that I’m literally talking to myself, but I’m carrying on a running monologue of what I would say, or what I’m planning to say. I am true and faithful to the one lady I’ve been seeing, but I spend a lot of time looking for new friends and connections. I’ve never actually contacted anyone, but that hasn’t stopped me from looking. And I have a very bizarre situation with someone else. Every day I carry on an email exchange with a lady I met six months or so on a dating site. It’s completely platonic, and the lady I’m involved with knows of the friendship. There is no secret. But the really weird part of it is the total contrast to my relationship. The situation I’m in is very affectionate and physical. In fact, that’s part of the problem with this one. She’s very needy and craves constant attention. The friend however, is completely standoffish. We meet occasionally for a beer after work, and I’ve helped her around the house some (Again, completely above board), but when it’s time for me to leave, she runs from me like a scared cat. I’m not trying to jump her bones or anything, but a goodbye hug would be appropriate with any female friend. It’s almost comical how she goes out of her way to avoid any contact at all. Talk about a bipolar situation! Two women about as far apart as they possibly could be; and I’m attracted to both. I haven’t actually pursued anything with my friend, but I think I would if she gave me any indication that she’d be interested. I’m not running around behind anyone’s back, but it’s hardly stellar to maintain a friendship with someone with the hopes that more could develop. And then there’s the dichotomy with the sex drive. I have extremely low testosterone, and it definitely affects the physical need for sex. I don’t have any problem at all ‘performing’ when the opportunity arises, but I don’t necessarily miss it when it doesn’t. But mentally I think about it all the time, and it drives me to behaviors and decisions that are really risky. I haven’t followed through, but that doesn’t stop the impulse, or the risk of giving in and making a horrible mistake.
I sometimes feel like I’m hanging on to my sanity by a thread.
For me, there is a very fine line between healthy and ill. I can never truly get rid of the abnormal thinking and weird ideas. I may appear ‘normal’ and appropriate. In fact, I believe that I probably seem healthier than a lot of other people. But just below the surface, the illness boils. Medication, therapy, and the skills I’ve learned helps keep that lid on. But it’s still lurking in the shadows.
So that begs the question; does managing the behaviors really mean that the disease is being controlled?
My goal over the past year is to really put this illness behind me. I want the obsessions to stop. I expect that my thinking will be even and stable without the conscious effort. I want the sexual desires to be reasonable, and the satisfaction be reached traditionally and without the deviant impulses. Is it too much to expect to have a decent relationship with someone and be satisfied with it for what it is? As I’ve said before, I’m choosing to live a normal, mainstream existence.
But I am far from normal. And don’t think I’ll ever truly be anything else.