Bipolar disorder can be responsible for depression and mania. Its intense mood swings can make it difficult to function. Thanks to increased awareness, more people have a basic understanding of the condition. Yet misconceptions still persist.
Here are 10 the biggest misconceptions about bipolar disorder.
#1: Bipolar disorder isn’t a real illness.
Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness which can require a lifetime of treatment and even hospitalization. Luckily, it can be controlled.
#2: Bipolar disorder is rare.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “bipolar disorder affects about 5.7 million American adults,” WebMD reported.
#3: Bipolar disorder doesn’t appear until age 18.
Children as young as six years of age can have bipolar disorder. The problem is that children can experience several periods of depression before their first manic episode. That makes it harder to diagnose, said HowStuffWorks.com.
“The Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation estimates that at least three quarters of a million American children and teens may suffer from bipolar disorder, although many are not diagnosed,” wrote WebMD.
#4: Mood is the only thing affected by bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder also causes problems with overall cognitive functions. One day a patient may have a razor-sharp focus. The next, their thoughts are muddled and sluggish, explained HowStuffWorks.com.
#5: Bipolar disorder and mood swings are the same.
Someone with bipolar disorder has mood swings much more severe than, for instance, someone who is upset about not losing weight.
#6: People with bipolar disorder always go back and forth from depression to mania.
This is a myth. The average bipolar patient is depressed more often than manic.
#7: When in a manic episode of bipolar disorder, people are very happy.
That does happen, but usually life is slipping out of their control. They become overly anxious, excited.
The Bipolar Disorder is a mental state or illness that is defined by the presence of at least one irritable or overly excited mood. It was previously called manic depression as it may contain hypo manic or nearly manic episode. Such intensive episode may last for a prolonged period and at the same time cause huge personal, social or professional problems. There are a number of factors that are effecting this disorder.
However, the exact cause has not been identified. Bipolar Disorder affects up to 7% of adults, equally afflicting man, and women.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
There are two types of Bipolar Disorder, labeled as Bipolar I and Bipolar II disorder. The first type involves periods of severe mood episodes while the second type is a minor form of mood elevation that is involving smaller episodes of depression or hypomania.
The symptoms of bipolar disorder are the most common between 18 and 30 and from 50-55 years of age. Serious life stressors may trigger the onset of this mood disorder, so the risk factors include a family history of abuse disorder or collective depression.
The Major Risk Factors for Bipolar Disorder
Alcohol, drug and substance abuse
Sudden life changes
A family history of psychological disorders
Bipolar Disorder and Addiction
About 60 % of individuals with bipolar disorder had experienced alcohol or drug addiction during their lifetime, about 45 % were addicted to drugs or had abused drugs, and approximately 50 % of that group were addicted to alcohol or had abused alcohol. However, there is no easy explanation for such high rate of chemical dependence and substance abuse. One reason for this symptom may be found in a fact that a large percentage of sufferers attempt to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs to nullify the painful symptoms of their disorder. It is bare fact that symptoms of bipolar disorder are so alarming that many individuals will turn to drugs, as an easy way out from sleeplessness, pain, depression and anxiety.
Major Phases of Bipolar Disorder
Manic phase is a specific symptom of bipolar disorder, and it can include extreme conditions and actions like racing thoughts, rapid speech, uncontrolled behavior, excessive spending or sexual behavior.
In this phase, increased creativity or euphoria are very common. People experiencing this phase are hyperactive, they sleep very little and tend to act without self-control.
Noteworthy sadness, hopelessness, irritability, uselessness and a decrease or increase in sleep, weight, or appetite are the typical depressive symptoms caused by bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder depression can result in serious suicidal thoughts and behavior so that it may be characterized as the major depressive episode of the disorder mixed with specific mood swings. Depression may be associated with manic fear, phobias or sudden panic attacks. Bipolar Disorder Depression is mainly categorized with the loss of interest and energy, feelings of sadness and hopelessness combined with sudden changes in appetite and weight.
As a young teenager, Inshirah Aleem was sure she’d be heading to Harvard Law School in a few years. But the straight-A student went down another road. Within months of her 14th birthday, the quiet girl was telling outrageous lies, running away from home and stealing. She eventually landed in front of a judge and later was sent to foster care, where she lived in a basement, her belongings stuffed into a trash bag.
It would be a year before Aleem, now a 38-year-old schoolteacher living in Greenbelt, Maryland, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The brain condition is characterised by high (manic) moods and low (depressed) moods as well as by fluctuating energy levels. These unstable states are coupled with impaired judgment. The diagnosis explained her racing, disjointed thoughts and almost completely sleepless nights. And it explained her terrifying hallucinations, which were followed by a catatonic state where Aleem couldn’t move or talk.
The disorder can be hard to recognise and harder to treat. Combining medications often brings substantial improvement, but some patients experience side effects and show minimal improvement. Researchers, who have found that bipolar disorder is inherited more than 70 per cent of the time, hope to identify drugs to target the 20 genetic variations known to be associated with the disorder.
Some patients who don’t respond well to antidepressants are treated with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which involves placing on the patient’s forehead a small magnet that creates a mild electrical current to stimulate a brain region associated with mood disorders. TMS has been found to treat the depression without setting off mania.
Bipolar disorder is a somewhat controversial diagnosis. Research that appeared in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2008 reported that less than half of a group of people who were said to have the mental illness met the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic criteria. (The data came from interviews with 700 psychiatric patients.)
The study showed that bipolar disorder was often misdiagnosed – and more likely to be overdiagnosed than underdiagnosed. The study, which is ongoing, shows an approximate threefold rate of overdiagnosis compared with underdiagnosis, says Mark Zimmerman, a psychiatrist at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence and principal investigator in the study.
Overdiagnosing bipolar disorder can lead to prescribing medications that may have significant side effects with no benefits. It can also create the stressors of wrongly carrying the label of a serious illness and of dealing with social stigmas, says James Potash, chair of psychiatry at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.
Conversely, underdiagnosing bipolar disorder results in missed opportunities to provide the best treatment. Often people are misdiagnosed with depression and given antidepressants without mood-stabilising drugs. This can worsen bipolar disorder, leading to more mood swings, Potash says.
Zimmerman says family history can help make the diagnosis.
“We have looked at first-degree family members (parents, children, siblings) of individuals whom we, upon careful evaluation, diagnosed with bipolar disorder. We found they were significantly more likely to experience bipolar than first-degree family members of individuals who were never diagnosed with bipolar.
“We also found no diagnoses in first-degree family members of individuals whom we determined did not present with bipolar disorder,” he says.
Until about two years ago, a broader definition of the ailment for children than for adults resulted in a surge in bipolar disorder diagnoses. This surge occurred over the course of a decade beginning in the late 1990s.
Some researchers believe the increase may partly be the result of attempts to correct historical underdiagnosis. Another factor may be that other conditions – attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, for example – may be mistaken for bipolar disorder because of overlapping symptoms.
Now some children who previously would have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder would be said to have disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. Symptoms of that disorder overlap with those of bipolar illness: extreme irritability and frequent, angry outbursts.
And they say that children with disruptive mood dysregulation were not likely to develop hypomania or mixed episodes, two classic bipolar states.
Some psychiatrists are at least as concerned about overlooking bipolar disorder as they are about overdiagnosing the illness, which typically first manifests in the teen years or the 20s.
It’s often missed because people don’t recognise they are ill, especially when they are manic; because family doctors may not be trained to see it; and because some symptoms mirror those of other problems, say clinicians trained to treat it.
Bipolar disorder has several phases, with the most recognised being mania and depression.
“With mania, their minds race and they talk very fast in a way that is disjointed. It’s like the volume being all the way up in your brain to the point where it is painful and you are out of control. Depression is the volume turned way down,” says Potash.
In a more subtle phase, hypomania, the volume is just high enough to be pleasurable.
“You think and talk somewhat faster, though in brief conversation someone may simply think you are in a good mood. But your judgments and behaviours can be off and get you in trouble,” Potash says.
The least-understood phase is mixed states, with lows and highs at the same time. For instance, mood might be low and energy high, a state known as agitated depression. Mixed state worries practitioners most; it comes with a high suicide risk.
Scott Aaronson, director of clinical research programs at Sheppard Pratt, a psychiatric hospital in Towson, Maryland, begins to seriously suspect bipolar if he finds three or more episodes of depression in 12 months.
Accurate diagnoses have taken months to years, he says.
“You must identify and understand stretches of time where a person’s thoughts and feelings were not quite right. And then work through each stretch to recognise signs and symptoms that would indicate a phase of bipolar disorder,” Potash says.
Aleem’s parents and her therapist thought she was simply acting out for a year after the signs surfaced.
“I had transferred to a public school where I was the ‘different girl,’ teased and ostracised. They thought it was just the transition,” she recalls.
Still, once a psychiatrist determined she was bipolar – after a faulty diagnosis of schizophrenia – there was no easy fix.
She took 30 pills a day, enduring major side effects: weight gain of more than 100 pounds, eye seizures, hand tremors and the loss of some of her hair.
“I couldn’t go to college, work or drive. My 8-year-old niece became my best friend,” recalls Aleem, who spent her days at her mother’s side in Springfield, Massachusetts until she was 21.
But she chose the side effects over the hallucinations and feelings of spiraling out of control. As she remained relatively stable, her dose was eventually halved. She began to feel closer to whole again.
With genetic testing, psychiatrists hope to do better on the treatment front.
“We want to reach a point where these tests could tell us what brain pathways are disrupted and be able to interrupt those pathways,” Potash says. His recent work identified genetic markers in people who were likely to respond well to lithium after multiple other medications failed.
Aaronson says he has had “terrific results” with TMS, particularly in addressing depression in bipolar patients who have what are called clear manic episodes – defined by the APA as a period of at least one week when a person is very high-spirited or irritable and shows such other symptoms as less need for sleep, talking more than usual, increased risky behavior and racing thoughts.
Aaronson considers TMS’ effectiveness in those with both depression and manic episodes a breakthrough because treating these patients’ depression without setting off their mania has been tough.
People with bipolar disorder often also are dealing with emotional trauma and substance abuse. Sixty per cent at some point will meet the criteria for drug and or alcohol abuse. And staying sober affects prognosis more than medication does, according to Aaronson.
“I advise my patients to sleep well and to not drink. And I encourage them to have insight about their illness because a good prognosis depends on getting to a point where they recognise when they are falling down or going into a manic or mixed episode,” he says.
He also incorporates yoga, meditation and other relaxation training. Research suggests that combining meditation and therapy may help with memory and executing tasks in bipolar patients.
Aaronson suspects that research will eventually show that diet plays a role in mood regulation. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may help. This dietary supplement inhibits, or slows, protein kinase, which is part of a signaling pathway in the brain associated with bipolar disorder, explains Lauren Marangell, a psychiatrist in Houston.
Marangell says that adding omega-3s will do no harm and may provide benefits, cautioning that people should not stop taking their traditional medications unless they have a mild form of bipolar and want to avoid side effects.
Aleem, who had no idea what was happening to her 20 years ago, will have to deal with bipolar disorder all her life. She speaks about her illness at universities and elsewhere, and she has written books on her life with bipolar disorder while working full time and raising a daughter.
Down to four drugs and with intermittent cognitive behaviour therapy to help her reframe her thoughts, she says, “I’m back in society for 10 years now. What’s changed is I know my illness and how to care for myself. It’s a journey with ups and downs. You have to keep fighting.”
How much do you know about bipolar disorder? You might mention the mood swings. The depression. The mania that follows.
If you don’t live with it, or know a loved one who lives with it, that’s likely where your knowledge stops.
But what else is important about bipolar disorder that we don’t talk about? To honor Mental Health Awareness Month, we teamed up with the International Bipolar Foundation to explore the unspoken corners of bipolar disorder, and asked what parts of bipolar disorder really need awareness not just this month, but every month.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “The effects of various types of medications — from weight gain (or loss) to ‘brain fog,’ forgetfulness, word-finding difficulties… It’s frustrating and can lower your self-esteem.”
2. “It seems like no one, including doctors, wants to discuss the ‘hyper-sexuality‘
that can come along with bipolar mania. This can be a very shameful part of the illness. It can cause serious damage to the person suffering.”
3. “Manic states aren’t fun, like many think. You can become self-destructive, and often impulsive decisions are made that have potentially devastating consequences. It can be overwhelming to deal with racing thoughts, and I get incredibly irritable. I think mania reduces my inhibitions and I get aggravated much more easily. I also don’t sleep much at all when I’m manic. It’s not a euphoria for me, and it’s often followed by severe depression.”
4. “The media portrayal of the illness is very narrow. It focuses on the acute stage of mania and depression and rarely acknowledges that patients have stable moods and their symptoms can be in remission for a good deal of time.”
5. “Having bipolar can lead to darkness in your life. Mental illness is just as deadly as many other life-threatening diseases.”
6. “People don’t talk about how it actually feels to have bipolar. People talk about signs and symptoms, but not what it actually feels like going through them. How frightening it is to have it, how totally out of control it makes you feel. People without it don’t see it as debilitating — they know it as a ‘mood swing’ when it’s so much more.”
7. “People need to understand it is not an excuse, it is a disorder. Read about it before you judge.”
8. “I think nobody talks about the difference between our mood swings and our actual emotions we feel as human beings. I have encountered my legitimate feelings being mistaken for my mental illness. I feel like my mental illness gets blamed for anything negative I’m going through, taking away my right as a human being to feel those emotions.”
9. “The mixed episodes are rarely mentioned. People without bipolar often assume there’s only two phases, mania and depression, and they present in specific ways with specific symptoms. However, each episode can present itself uniquely and aren’t always pure mania or pure depression.”
10. “I’m very open about my bipolar disorder, but I never talk about hallucinations. People can handle when you explain highs and lows, but trying to explain hallucinations when manic is just a recipe for disaster.”
Three or four months ago I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. I have gone back and forth in my head about if I could continue writing about mental health and disclose this new diagnosis with anyone. Not one person in my family knows about this, and maybe three friends are aware of it. There is so much self-doubt, confusion, sadness, and a gamut of other feelings that come along with getting that diagnosis.
I have been agonizing these last few months and hiding my diagnosis from nearly everyone because I don’t want to be looked upon differently or lose any relationships because of it. I have been in this tug-of-war with myself; one side desperately wants my friends and family to know and thus be fully accepted for who I am, and the other side wants to conceal and hide it at all costs. The fear that people will think of me differently, treat me differently, or even cut off ties with me is real, and it is always present. I don’t want to be this afraid of it anymore. I don’t want to feel like I have to hide myself to be accepted by the people I love.
Because I am not different. I am me, and I am who I’ve always been. The only difference is that I have a name for what I have been living with and experiencing for the great majority of my life.
I am writing this right now to help break the shame and stigma I put upon myself, and to say I have bipolar disorder.
“We have been given a challenging illness, and there is no other option than to meet those challenges. Think of it as an opportunity to be heroic… an emotional survival. An opportunity to be a good example to others who might share our disorder.” — Carrie Fisher
When I was diagnosed, I revisited and delved deeper into Carrie Fisher’s novels and explored her words and experiences in living with bipolar disorder. No, not just living with it — thriving, struggling, succeeding with it. She has been an open, fierce mental health advocate, and that is something I admire so much in her. She was unabashedly herself and was completely unapologetic about who she is. She was never quiet or shy about her struggles or her ability to overcome. She was a person who brought voice to countless people who were silent about their struggles and made people feel less alone. I sit here trying to imagine all of the people she has touched and inspired for this very reason, and I wonder what these people would be like if they didn’t have her example. She chose to embrace it and share it and to not live her life concealing her diagnosis and hiding.
Today, I choose to do the same.
Carrie Fisher is more than just Princess Leia to me and to many others. She was the first feminist heroine I was exposed to. Her words in her writing, candidly speaking of her struggles and her triumphs regarding mental illness have helped push me and kept my head up on the tough days of fighting mine.
Carrie, thanks for your refreshing candor, acute self awareness, sense of humor, and ability to never take yourself too seriously. Thank you for showing girls and women that we are heroes too. Thank you for being a brave advocate and example to so many people.
“At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.” – Carrie Fisher
I have all my hair, all my limbs, and all of my communication skills. I smile. I walk. I laugh. I dance at the party. I cheer at the game. I raise my glass to the toast. I look alive. Yet, unknown to almost everyone, this is an illusion – something I create to keep my invisible illness even more hidden, a secret.
After an encounter with a coach back in my high school soccer playing days, I learned to harbor my illness deep inside of me as much as possible. His exact words when I attempted to reveal my struggle with bipolar disorder were this: “But, you look fine.”
From then on, I was convinced the world held no empathy for invisible illnesses. How could they? There was no cast to sign, no wheelchair to push, no doors to hold open because my arms were occupied with crutches. No. There was nothing to see. So, therefore there must be nothing wrong.
As I continued to struggle in silence from my friends, I pushed the symptoms deeper into the prisons of my mind, making sure I didn’t make a scene. I tried my best to be someone else’s version of normal. It worked, in that sense. Outsiders saw a regular, happy person living her life. But they didn’t see the other side. Behind my eyes, inside my brain, I was dying with all of my pain and all of my secrets.
I felt embarrassed when I had to tell someone I was struggling, and humiliated when they looked at me like I was making it up. I began to belittle my own struggle. It wasn’t as bad as I was making it out to be. This led to a lot of self-loathing, confusion, and anger. I was furious with my mind for not being able to work “right,” as if I had even the slightest bit of control over that in the first place.
It was the worst when I’d go to my friends’ weddings or see old teammates and have to describe my life over the past few years. They had successfully run their races. They had jobs, careers, college degrees, and tales of adventure. What did I have to show? I had been battling in a mental war that had an unparalleled horror to anything I had ever experienced. How do you say things like that in small chit-chat? The depths my heart had reached seemed to surpass anything anyone else would have wanted to hear, never mind understand. So I lied. I pretended my life was like theirs. But, I hated feeling like I had to hide.
After much trial and error, I found a psychiatrist who clicked with me. He brought me to a place I hadn’t been since I’d gotten sick. And, he made me realize something I had been fighting against for a long time.
It is OK to struggle. And, it is OK to tell people.
He said, “Elissa, not everyone can understand your illness right away. But, if you tell someone about how that illness affects you deep into your core, that it moves your being into hell and back, and they still aren’t willing to try to understand…they aren’t worth having in your life. The people who matter, the ones worth holding onto, will value you over something they don’t understand. They will accept you.”
I didn’t believe this, not at first.
Ever since I was told I “looked fine” when I was struggling with the very thought of trying to stay alive, I had come to the false assumption that everyone felt that way – that no one wanted to understand.
One day after my psychiatrist told me the truth, I decided to test it out. I told my friend I had something hard to say, and I told her about my bipolar disorder. Her response was this: “I have depression and I suffer in silence, too.”
This idea still leaves me in a saddened awe –so many people struggle with an invisible illness, and yet they hide it from the world. Whether it is a brain injury, a mental illness, a disability, a chronic illness or an emotional turmoil, people try to hide it. But, the thing about burying something like that so deep down is it eats at you until it feels like you have no hope.
I believe the biggest mistakes in this world come from the words we don’t say and the words we refuse to hear. Perhaps we assume we are wrong to feel how we feel. Perhaps we fear no one will hear us if we do speak about it. Or perhaps we are afraid of what we will hear after we share our struggle – or maybe that we might hear nothing at all — silence, confirming the dread of isolation. But remaining quiet in your struggle will undoubtedly leave you feeling alone.
Even though it is hard, it helps to share you struggle. Say something. Say something and be heard. You are not alone. The world is not as cruel of a place as it seems. You never know who needs to hear your story to get through their own.
As I have begun to heal, I have also begun to share my story, and I cannot emphasize enough how healing it is.
I have bipolar II. It seems like it can make it hard for people to like me, especially in moments when I don’t like myself. I have lost so many friends throughout my life. I have very few constants. I find people seem to have more trouble “dealing” with me because of my bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder can cloud my vision. It makes me question myself, and it makes me so insecure. People who don’t have bipolar might think it’s just mood swings, but it is so much more. It’s definitely mood swings, but they are not just happy or sad. They are happy, angry, numb, furious, sad, depressed, suicidal, anxious and jealous. The list goes on and on.
My point is, it can be challenging to love me. I am only speaking for myself, but I find there are three things that show me people do love me, even when I feel like they don’t:
1.They are patient.
Patience is a virtue not everyone has, but I think people who care will make sure they have it. When I say patience, I mean a lot. I know someone cares when I have said something I don’t mean and they don’t walk away. They don’t get up and say, “She’s not worth it.” They don’t leave. I know someone cares when they sit there and listen to me talk, without getting frustrated with me. The people who are close to me know when I get in a bad place, I say things on a whim and get myself in trouble a lot. Then, I start panicking, thinking I’ve ruined a friendship. But they always tell me, “It’s OK. I’m not going to not be your friend because you were in a bad mood.” Patience is necessary.
2.They reassure me.
When I’m in a low mood, I think horrible things about myself. I tell myself I’m not pretty and that I’m worthless and stupid. It’s hard to explain because I know I’m not any of those things but when my mind is bogged down and I’m not thinking logically, I do believe those thoughts.
This is when I need someone to grab my hand and pull me out of this hole I’ve found myself in. It’s so easy to reassure someone of how great they are. It can just be a nice text. It doesn’t have to be a present or anything extravagant — a note, a text or just a smile and a hug. I need someone to tell me that everything will be OK. This also comes in when I am questioning any kind of relationship. I need those people to reassure me we are still OK, especially if I feel that I’ve messed up.
3. They give me their time.
I am a person who loves to spend time with other people. It is so important I do because it can lift a bad mood almost instantly. If someone is willing to carve time out of their day to spend time with me, then I’m on the road to being happy. I need people to want to spend time with me. I know I can be a pain and I can be a downer, but when people are willing to put time aside, I feel loved. We don’t have to go out to a restaurant or a club. We can sit in sweats and a t-shirt and watch movies at someone’s house. I don’t require much. I feel like most people are that way. To me and others, time, no matter how it is spent, is a huge sign that people care.
Patience, reassurance and time. These are the three things that show me someone truly cares about me. That’s all I’m looking for, as someone with a bipolar disorder. I am not hard to love
How do I explain what living with bipolar disorder feels like? I say, “It’s cyclical,” and you say, “So you have good days and bad.” Yes. Yes and no. I’ve tried to explain, searching for the right words, but I never quite hit the jackpot.
So let me try to explain in the best way I know how, as a writer.
I’d like to take you somewhere — an adventure if you will. No? Not an adventure. Maybe just a little walk. Yes, a nice stroll. Nothing too committal. Just a walk through a park, through the viridian sea of foliage, hearing the laughter of a child. Do you see that young couple? Kissing? Over there on the bench? I can feel the heat coming from their passion. My fingers tingle at the sensation. You and I walk along the cobblestones, hearing the gentle click of our shoes on the stone; glance at the cyclists as they ride by, chrome glinting in the watery sunlight.
It’s lovely. It’s calming. It feels… real. Normal. This is life, no? This is what life is about?
But it’s such a short moment. I need it to be longer, draw it out.
The clipped-ness of it overwhelms me. I smell the cinnamon scent of chestnuts being roasted and I grasp for that scent. Desperately, my senses drink it in and I can almost taste it… almost. It’s infuriating how much I need to taste it. Urgently. Do you feel it?
Do you smell the scent of the roses, the leaves, freshly mown grass, hear the cicadas in the summer afternoon, lazy, piercing? Doesn’t it throw you back to your childhood? Aren’t you young again? Why can’t you feel it? The morning dew burnt off by the sun as she streaks across the sky in all her naked glory. She really is tantalizing, isn’t she? I think I might catch her.
The energy is unbounded, exhilarating, profound. Don’t you see? Doesn’t it mean something to you? All of this glory we call Earth, we call home? The crusted bark of the trees, stories older than you or me. The children dodging their helicopter parents. Swoosh, zoom, duck. That one, over there, the young mother in the dress so lilac I can’t think straight, talking into her mobile phone as she gestures to her young offspring.
I need to chase it. I need to capture it. Capture its meaning.
It’s almost too much. It is too much. My eyes rapidly take it all in, the images, the scents, the sounds, all get processed in my higher cortices, the moment overwhelms me. Back and forth, focus, attention, process, storage. Repeat. Over and over and over. It rushes through me. Faster, faster, no wait it’s too fast too fast too fast! Stop, I can’t keep up, it’s too green, the children are too loud, the scent is nauseating! I can’t keep up with myself.
The rain falls.
The storm barrels in, the clouds, lethargic, monstrous, ugly, incapable of doing anything but raining the shit storm of the century. It’s horrible. It’s all horrible. Each drop squeezed out in anticipation of contact with my miserable skin. My flayed being. I can’t. It hurts too much. The rain torments me, the thunder laughs at me, the hairs on my arm stand straight at attention. Like little soldiers ready to march to their death.
Like the little white pills, lined up in a row. Little soldiers with their little mission to end the littleness of myself. Down the chute they go. One by one they go marching, marching, marching. Slicing away at the agony. Like raindrops, they go down.
It’s dark. All is dark. Not even dark — void of darkness. Void of anything. A black hole and I teeter on the event horizon. Can you reach for me? Do you see me here, grasping, my fingernails ripped off, bloody stubs clawing at something to keep me from plummeting? Please, please, please….
I can’t remember the color green anymore. I can’t remember the taste of food. I can’t remember the feeling of feeling. The only thing I hear is the gurgling sound of me getting sucked down the drain. Down the drain with the rain.
Do you see me? Can you see me?
No, maybe you can’t.
The rain stops… eventually. The yellow sun breaks through, anxious, filled with trepidation. Even she doesn’t want to expose what’s happened here. But I still see her, distant and foggy, behind the breaking clouds.
I can’t follow her though, I can’t follow her too far. Or she will be too bright. And I will fall again.