Bipolar Disorder and Suicide

This is a story about anger, domestic violence, suicide attempts, denial, and guilt.

Every word of it is true.

——————————-

When I was a child, I got into fights a lot. Though I should explain that “got into fights” really means I was verbally and psychologically bullied constantly by other kids until I snapped and lashed out physically. They teased me for my weight, my clothes, my speech impediment (difficulty with extended-R sounds, mostly in words like girl and earth where the sound is stressed), and just about anything else you can think of. There were no anti-bullying rules at my school, so the other kids never got into trouble for teasing me, no matter how merciless it was, and no matter how many of them ganged up on me. I was unable to manage the situation with verbal responses due to a communication disorder (one as yet undiagnosed) that prevents me from expressing my thoughts in a clear manner. This condition is at its worst when I am stressed out or upset. So when I was unable to get the bullies to stop, and unable to express my pain to the teachers, I responded by lashing out. I spent a lot of time down at the principal’s office because I was seen as the bad guy.

Incidents included me chasing down other kids, shoving them, and occasionally hitting them because it was the only way I knew to make them leave me alone. Due to my superior size and strength most of the other kids would simply run away, and due to my weight and asthma I rarely caught them. However, there were a few pretty bad incidents, such as the time I grabbed one kid by his throat and lifted him two feet off the ground. It took three others to get me off of him.

I never hit any girls. My mother drilled it into me from the youngest age that a boy never hits a girl on any occasion. As a result, there was at least one incident where I allowed a girl to beat me up because I was unable to hit her back after the incident started. I laid on the ground and covered my head with my arms until she was removed from the scene.

I ended up in ultimately useless psychotherapy where I drank hot chocolate and played with wooden blocks. I attended therapy for about two years from ages 12-14 or so, then stopped. Since therapy had done me no good, I began suppressing my emotions. Kids continued to bully me, and I responded by simply not talking. They didn’t exist. I wouldn’t look at them, I wouldn’t answer their questions, I wouldn’t say “Thank you” when they said “God Bless You” after I sneezed. I existed in a world where other human beings were obstacles to be avoided as I walked from one class to another. This continued until I graduated high school.

After six years or so of suppressing emotions, I became quite good at it. So good, in fact, that I’ve managed to go most of my life without anyone knowing the issues that plague me on a daily basis. I can divide these issues into two categories: self-diagnosis and professional diagnosis.

Professional diagnosis: The only therapist I’ve seen as an adult, at age 32, diagnosed me with episodic bouts of depression. He said that any “upswings” I experienced were perceived as “up” only by comparison to how low I get on downswings. He advised me to treat my bouts of depression as “moods,” and remember that a bad mood only passes, and I shouldn’t dwell on it.

Self-diagnosis: I suffer from clinical depression, symptoms including lack of energy, loss of interest in friends and activities, poor social interaction, and periods where I simply sit in a chair and stare while contemplating everything I’ve ever done wrong in my life. These periods are compounded with thoughts of suicide. I also have extreme periods of rage that I consider to be indicative of bipolar disorder. I snap into a berserk rage wherein I become violent, after which I slump into a serious downswing that usually involves hiding in a corner somewhere and crying (for example, after most of the childhood rage incidents listed above, I ran into the woods behind the school, sat under a tree, and cried). I also suffer from occasional seizures, obsessive paranoia, mild hallucinations, the inability to distinguish between dreamed vs actual events in my life, outbursts of incoherent behavior and ranting, and periods where I hear voices. I’m convinced that there is a woman living inside my head who may or may not be a stray soul that latched onto my soul during my childhood and became “stuck,” leaving me living in a dual-soul state (see Ruth Montgomery, Strangers Among Us, for more information on “walk-in” souls inhabiting another person’s body).

When people make jokes online about the NSA spying on us or they pretend to have planted cameras in my apartment, I have to check every air vent and closet because I honestly don’t know whether it’s true or not. When people start major arguments with me, I tend to shut down verbally, my right hand starts shaking and convulsing (never the left; don’t ask me why). I don’t understand human interaction, emotions, or communication in the way normal people do.

I also have strong urges (either due to the theoretical woman living inside my head or other unresolved issues) towards a feminine lifestyle. This isn’t cross-dressing or tranvestiteism; it is a gender-identity crisis that has manifested since before puberty (see also: transgender and transsexualism). It most commonly manifests in the outward expression of the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of the alternate persona previously mentioned (who goes by the name “Jenny”).

I have attempted suicide exactly one time.

From 2007-2011, I was romantically involved with and living with a girl named Rachel. The myriad details of our relationship are mostly irrelevant to the topic at hand, but suffice to say she was cheating on me and she was, quite often, the cause of my seizures and episodes of depression and communicative shutdowns. Our frequent arguments usually involved two-sided screaming, insults, and other verbal abuse.

On one occasion, the screaming and insults reached a point where I began, as I had frequently at a younger age, to feel uncontrollable rage boiling inside of me. It became clear to me that if Rachel continued screaming at me as she was, I would most likely be unable to restrain my anger and keep the situation from getting violent. In order to vent these urges, I directed my physical efforts against the environment around me. I broke a closet door, threw something (I think it was a bottle of windex) and broke a fan, and I smashed a mirror against the floor. Rachel continued to yell and scolded me for smashing things, then retreated into the bedroom.

A short time later I overheard her on the telephone with a friend of mine, wherein she explained what happened and used the words, “I was really scared of him.”

At that moment I realized that my rage had become a threat to Rachel, and I proceeded to swallow most of a full bottle of advil.

Rachel emerged a short time later and found me sitting on the floor in the kitchen with the bottle still in hand. She asked me, “How many of these did you take?”

I responded, “I don’t know. A lot.”

The friend Rachel was on the phone with has extensive emergency training (he was planning to pursue a career in law enforcement at the time). Under his direction, I was led to swallow a glass of salt water in order to induce vomiting. Following this, I was taken to the hospital where I was made to drink charcoal. I was there for several hours while tests were performed to ensure that the vomiting had purged my system of toxins quickly enough. I was then forced to speak with a crisis counselor before I was granted permission to leave.

None of the individuals involved ever spoke of the incident again. Denial seems to be the name of the game. It’s unlikely that it would ever be brought up again (Rachel and I are no longer together due to unrelated incidents [she cheated on me with a drug dealer], and my friend is the sort not to bring it up unless I did first). There are most likely medical records related to this incident, which may or may not prevent me from every buying a firearm in the future, were I inclined to do so.

I haven’t experienced any urges towards violence since that one.

Comments are welcome but it is unlikely that I will directly reply to any that are expressions of sympathy and/or commendations for the supposed “bravery” involved in writing this. That doesn’t mean such comments are unwanted, but merely that I will consider myself unable to properly address them. Please excuse the unusually cold and academic tone of this writing; it’s a side effect of the emotional detachment required to address this issue.

I frequently make comments on Twitter about my paranoia, depression, psychological issues, identity crises, and schizophrenia. These are most commonly treated by others as jokes, wherein other individuals respond that they’re “crazy too” and that “we all are.” Most of them don’t seem to realize that there is a difference between crazy and crazy. The latter is very easy to disguise as the former. It’s an effective way to blend in. It’s camouflage. You can go online and say, “I had such a bad day,” and other people sympathize. You can say “I’m so stressed out,” and other people say they are, too. You can say, “I’m thinking about packing up my whole life and moving to Canada,” and they jokingly offer you advice on vacation spots. You can say, “My brain just cannot today,” and no one realizes what that actually really means.

You can’t say, “I can’t stop my hand from shaking or hitting myself in the head,” because people can’t see the theoretical joke in that. You can’t say, “I just spent twenty minutes curled up in the corner, crying and ripping my hair out,” because people will look at you funny. And you REALLY can’t say, “Sometimes I think the girl living inside my head is winning,” because then you’ve really lost them.

Fortunately, camouflage is really easy after a lifetime of experience. You just observe people’s reactions to the things you’ve said, and file away for later which ones are acceptable to repeat in the future, and which ones are not. Which, more or less, is what “human interaction” is to me. Fake it til you make it. Learn what is acceptable. Project the front that will serve the purpose you desire, vis-a-vis being left alone and treated like you’re an ordinary person.

And above all else, never give an honest answer to the question, “How are you?”

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10 thoughts on “Bipolar Disorder and Suicide”

  1. Jason, thank you for sharing this story to us. This must have been difficult to be able to spill out onto the page as words. In January, I haven’t been able to be myself for the 6 weeks I had on break after school had ended. I was being pressured to do something I wasn’t really good at. It lead me to become suicidal. I really thought that I wouldn’t make it through to February. I was thinking of hanging myself or planning to have an overdose of Ibuprofen. I really do realise that life is too short to waste time on being suicidal. Being suicidal made a stronger and better person. I’ve managed to fight through being sad at times and suicidal and therefore, I am so glad that someone out there has gone through that, but now have become stronger, better and happier.

    Jason, you made it. And I’m happy that you did. We both made it. Together.

    -Edwina, the Writer

    1. Jason, your story inspires me. And it inspires everyone. I hope it does. This blog post is what makes you unique and special. You are who you are. You fought through it. And one day; Jason, a woman of your dreams with love you for it. She will love you, and understand you like no one else. Trust me. That day will come.

      -Edwina, the Writer

  2. I’d “Like” this, Jason, but… ya know…
    No words. Just karuṇā and mettā. You can sit in the corner at my place any time.

  3. You are a brave and courageous person, for dealing with what you’ve gone through and what you still go through. (I honestly wish I could hug you right now.)

  4. dude you’re not the only one with problems… you’re not alone in this… and even if in the past therapist haven’t helped you should really keep trying to find help and maybe you will… I had a bunch of idiot therapist who in no way helped me and then finally I got one that help turn my life around… I’ve been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and mild seizure like symptoms that involve my left arm shaking so bad I have to use my full body weight to hold it down until I can get to an ER and get tranquilized… these problems will never truly go away… but over the years and with help I’ve gotten a really great life… it’s not easy getting over it… it’ll never be easy… but you shouldn’t just accept that this is your life and there’s no helping it…

    1. I have to agree with the above comment. There is help for brain chemistry that has a detrimental effect on one’s life. I shudder to think of the behavior I would be exhibiting without antidepressant medication. There is help available, but it’s imperative to find an excellent doctor.

      Medicine is one part of recuperation. Exercise, interacting with people, and communication with the One who made us are also important. Yeah, face to face is good, but I don’t discount interpersonal communication facilitated by technology. Without it, I wouldn’t get to be reading what you write! The fact that you were able to write out some of your experience so far is fantastic! Don’t let the woman inside your head win.

      I’m praying for you, my friend.

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