Bipolar disorder is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as a manic depressive, seriously medical illness that causes shifts in mood, energy, and the ability to function. So you can imagine how difficult it is for a woman with bipolar disorder to cope with a breakup.
As a bipolar woman, I faced the biggest challenge of my life when my fiancée abandoned me months ago. After my breakup, I spiraled into a manic episode. To the outside world, I appeared as a perfectly healthy and happy person, but the pain was unbearable. My mind raced nonstop. I was suffering from massive panic attacks. I could not focus. My speech had become rapid. I was beginning a cycle that only my doctor would recognize. Prior to this, I saw her every 8 to 12 weeks for a med check. After the breakup, my episodes started up again and I began to see her every 2 to 3 weeks. I was prescribed a new cocktail of medication, and all I could think about was stopping my racing thoughts and panic attacks. I immediately doubled my dose – on Thanksgiving.
My mom had spent the entire day cooking and I couldn’t even hold my head up. I shoveled what little food I could eat into my mouth, crawled into her bed and slept the entire day. Weeks later, I rapid cycled into a fit of mania and engaged in self-destructive behavior. We all have our vices. Mine just happens to be men. I had just been rejected by the man I planned to spend the rest of my life with, the man I considered my best friend. He had told my closest friend that I was unattractive and needed plastic surgery. I wanted to feel desired by a man and reassured that I wasn’t repulsive. Therefore, I had casual sex with a slew of men I barely knew. Nothing mattered anymore.
I also began to isolate myself. I spent a lot of time during this break up in my bedroom, watching Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Sense and Sensibility. I watched them repeatedly every single day and cried with Helen and Mary Anne. I got lost in my writing for days. I no longer wanted to share my feelings with my friends or hear their advice and concerns, so I ignored them. But they didn’t give up. They called and text relentlessly. My friends and some other women I met via an online support group were my support system. They looked beyond my flaws and were there on those days when I was unable to function.
One thing I learned through this journey is that people suffering with bipolar disorder feel emotions at an extreme level. My doctor explained that when we feel happiness or sadness it is on a scale that most people will never experience. This is both good and bad for obvious reasons. We tend to dwell on things, becoming detectives in search of answers. I discovered that my fiancée was in a new relationship less than two months after leaving me. I wanted to stalk his social media; instead I chose to block him. I can’t focus on things that have come to pass. I have to focus on my future and staying healthy.
So, to the women who are suffering from this brutal disorder, know that you are not alone. You are doing the best you can to handle manic behavior patterns. Continue to see your doctor and take your medication, like I did. This situation is temporary, and you will smile again soon.