Great Expectations

And the fight goes on…

I’ve said it before, this whole “normal’ think is boring.  I’ve strived for this years now, and thanks to a successful treatment plan, I’ve managed to put the crazy to rest.

And it’s driving me crazy.

Mania isn’t fun.  Well, to be honest it can be, but cleaning up the aftermath and the subsequent depression that always follows isn’t.  My mania’s are not comfortable, I’ll admit.  My stress level goes through the roof.  My muscles are strung taught all the time, and there’s this feeling that I have a giant spring coiled up inside of me that is about to explode.  Yet, that doesn’t sound so bad right now.  Along with the stress is exuberance with life.  The opportunities are endless.  Ideas pour out of my head, each one better than the last.  I’m going to make a fortune; I’m going to grow my company; I’m going to write a bestseller.

I’m going to save the world.

Then there is all the fun activities.  I tend to play a lot of golf when I’m on a high.  The more I play, the better I get, and the better I get the more people I can beat.  And beating others is so satisfying!  When I’m single (which happens a lot) I go on the hunt for someone new.  There are three or four dating sites that I’ve belonged to that always generated results.  I could have a different date every night, and usuall do.  And you’d be surprised at how many dates have little inhibitions when it comes to… well, let’s call it a sleepover.   There’s nothing like the thrill of the hunt.  If I am in a relationship, then boundaries get pushed and horizons are expanded.  It’s rare to have any participation from my mate, but there’s always the planning and anticipation.

The energy is boundless!

Even the anger my mania can cause brings a certain appeal.  Anger is a different form of passion, and passion fuels life.  And the best part of being manic, is most times you don’t even realize that you’re having an episode.  Things just happen, there’s no awareness of the craziness.  Others always get hurt in some fashion, but when in that mode the damage being done is unseen.  When in the grasp of a full blown manic episode you become oblivious to anyone other to yourself.  Or if you are aware, your perception is that you are making their life better and saving them from all the tribulations.

It’s all quite fun, actually.

That’s quite a contrast to my new ‘normal’ life.  There’s nothing to get excited about.  My energy level is constant and just enough to get done what needs to be done.  The routine doesn’t really change either; get up, go to work, fix dinner, hang out then go to bed.    And tomorrow is the same; get up, go to work, fix dinner, hang out then go to bed.  Then you get up, go to work, fix dinner, hang out then go to bed.   It’s the whole hamster on a wheel syndrome.

And it’s all so blah.

So I’m looking for distractions and a break from the monotony.  But so many of those activates aren’t free, and an excess of money is not something I have.  I know, not everything has to cost.  Unfortunately, the things I enjoy the most, do.  I love to go dancing, but it’s impossible for me to go out without having food and drink.  That gets expensive in a hurry.  A couple of glasses of wine and appetizer can set you back $50 in a heartbeat.  Speaking of wine, I enjoy visiting all the local wineries we have in our area.  And I can’t leave without buying at least a couple of bottles can I?  It would be rude to the vintners’.  And there goes another $50.   So we’ve started taking dance lessons.  Because I did so much with East Coast Swing with my ex, I really don’t’ want to get back into that.  The same goes for West Coast Swing, not to mention it’s a style I don’t really enjoy.  Ballroom is nice, but there’s nowhere to use what you learn.  It’s not like there are weekly balls around here.   So we decided on learning shag.  My lady is very experienced in that style, and has her own history with her ex, but as long as we don’t go to the same venue she’s okay with it.  She has history, but she absolutely loves the dance.  Taking dance lessons gives you something to anticipate, a break from the routine, and the challenge to learn new things.  It helps with the competitive drive I have.  I want to be better than everyone else!  And I want them to know it.  Even though my Girl is so experienced, I’m not.  She’s kind enough to take the beginning class with me, so I can get the proper basics before trying to catch up to her skill. Shag isn’t that much different from East Coast Swing however, and it only takes being shown once and I’ve got it.

It’s kind of boring, actually.

And my illness isn’t happy about that at all.  I can feel it building up inside, pushing and fighting to get back in control.  It’s like a whole different being living in me; and complete entity lurking in the shadows.  I can almost feel it.   There’s a like from the song “Riders on the storm” by the Doors I’ve always related to.  “There’s a killer on the road.  His brain is squirming like a toad”.  It’s totally out of context, but the visual fits. Well, the brain squirming that is; I’m no killer, and have no fantasies or desire to become one.  This ‘thing’ in my brain is tangible almost though.  I’ve seen images of mud pits in Yosemite National Park where the escaping gasses make slow, gooey bubbles, like a pot full of sludge boiling.  My brain feels like that.  The illness I’ve trapped is bubbling to the surface.  There are cartoon images of someone trying to punch their way out of a balloon; fists striking the walls and bulging out, but contained.  That’s the image I have of my brain; lumps appearing and disappearing until they break through in a slow boil.  It’s difficult to describe, but it’s really almost a true physical feeling.   And part of me wants to let it out.  The little voice inside my head keeps reminding me how fun life can be.  The temptations are always there, but they are harder and harder to ignore.  Maybe I’ll take just a peek; it doesn’t hurt to fantasize a little, right?  Just think how exciting it could be again.  I’m not always at work, or with my girlfriend.  I have time alone to partake just a little.  She’ll never know, and it won’t interfere with my job.  And I can control it, and keep It hidden away.  No one will ever find out.

Yeah, right.  How’s that worked out for me before?

That’s what makes this new existence so difficult.  With everything I’ve been through my expectations of how life should be have set a very high bar.  It’s very difficult to be satisfied with the small successes and mild entertainments.  What might be exciting and pleasurable for someone who’s always been healthy don’t even come close to the levels I’ve become used to.  Thanks to my illness, my excitement threshold is over the top.

And frankly, I miss it.

It’s not hard to understand why people who are bipolar stop taking their medications and quit going to therapy.  The bipolar brain tells you that you’re not really sick, and you’re being stunted with your emotions; drugged almost into a stupor.  You just don’t feel like yourself, and the call to give in to call is hard to resist.  People who support someone who is bipolar just don’t get it.  Things were going so well, all they had to do was continue on their meds and everything would be fine.  But for us, fine is dull.  I want more.

But I have to remember all the carnage I leave in my wake during an episode.  The messes created can take years to recover.  The losses experienced never go away.  And there’s the other side of the coin too.   My manias are always followed by depression.  And depressions are a special kind of hell that you never ever want to enter again.  The manic side does its best to make you forget the pit.  So I have to force myself to remember.  It’s so very difficult to learn how to lower the level of expectations to a normal range.  But face it, it took my 50+ years to get to this point; I’m not going to reverse that overnight.  Accept the challenge of not succumbing to the call of the demons, even through the monotony.  Give yourself time to relearn.  The brain has its own muscle memory.  Just like repeating a golf swing over and over imbeds itself to the point it becomes second nature, the brain can actually change itself, even the physical chemical balance.

As boring as it is, it’s the best choice I can make.

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