This is a great explanation for the worst bipolar effect. I found this blog last week and has some great stuff to help bipolar. I could not have said this hard subject in a better manner so I have shared this blog with you as a guest blog and recommend the whole blog if you need to learn of bipolar. This is a blog with a different take on it then the personality I bring to the subject on my own blog. Here is a copy of it, but go to the site and read a lot of good stuff. Helpful stuff.
Bipolar 101 - "Irritability"
I chose irritability as the first symptom because I think that this one was the one that my family can most relate to. Other symptoms such as my racing thoughts, grandiosity, sexuality and behaviors were there of course. But perhaps they would claim that this one was the most difficult to deal with. It affected them the most directly on a day by day basis.
Imagine always being irritated and never knowing why. Many of us will be irritated if someone steps in our way or does something that we feel is an infringement upon the way that we like to see things done. That is common and natural and depending on how we deal with it, it is a perfectly natural emotion. But for the one that has bipolar disease there is no rationality. Everything irritated me at all times! It really seemed to be a 100% narcissitic emotion where everything, and I mean everything, had to be done according to my frame of mind. If it wasn't, the irritability would fly. But note: I said the word "seemed." It "seemed to be." I didn't want it to be that way and frankly I had no idea that it was that way. But somehow my mind had warped into the position where it was trying to protect it's own territory at all costs. My mind was fractured and it was trying to protect itself from anything that seemed wrong. It was too weak to be able too handle anything else that conflicted with what it believed. There were many times of irritability where I had no understanding of why I was irritated. I just knew that I was.
My mind had literally broken and so even the smallest of things would then send off an attack mode. Just a word, just a clanging dish, just a wrong look, just a minor disagreement and there was irritation. At the time the irritation felt like it was the right response - it was justified and it made sense. After all, you infringed on what I thought was the correct thing and how dare you do that! And it was a normal response if the behavior indeed had been wrong on the part of the other person. The problem was that the behavior was not that bad. My mind made it to be much more grievous than what it actually was.
The irritability was an over reaction to an exaggerated behavior in my own mind. I became argumentative and demanding, hostile and impatient, aggressive and super quick to anger. I would try and step back and count to 10, but my mind was to overly sensitive and to easily offended. Everything seemed like an attack and I became intolerant, snappy and critical. I lashed out at everyone and everything in my path. It was all about self protection. My mind was aggressive and hostile. Everything became chaotic for me.
Imagine now a stray cat that gets cornered and is scared. What is it's reaction when you try to reach out to help? In it's mind you are there to hurt, not to help, and so it responds accordingly. The claws fly, the hair stands on end, there is a high pitched hiss and a cry, and then there is the fight. The cat can not see that you are there to help. It can not see that you are not a danger to him. He is simply trying to protect his own. His mind is not seeing the situation clearly.
Maybe this is not the "purfect" (lol! sorry!) example, but it does get at the heart of the challenge. My mind believed that it had to protect it's space, it had to careful to keep things calm. It knew that things were swarming around inside just like a hurricane, tornado, tusnami, and earthquake all at the same time. Too much was happening all at the same time in my head and so the smallest of intrusions would literally send it over the edge. The smallest of things were the straws that broke the camel's back. Fury would be unleashed as it tried to protect itself from any new threat that might add more noise to the mental storm.
My family paid the price for that imbalance. They received the brunt of the hostile demands of an angry, impatient, argumentative, snappy, critical over reactive mind. They dealt with that emotional abuse for years on end as my mind continued to deteriorate. My heart goes out to them. I still have no full comprehension of what that must have been like. I have a small comprehension now from friends who have acted like towards me and I feel a portion of the horror of being on the receiving end, but I have no idea what it was like to be in it day in or day out.
So how has that changed? My mind is calmer now. It has been a tough 6 years since I was diagnosed. Unfortunately there were some who thought I could change overnight, but it has taken much time to rewire my brain. Through medications, lifestyle changes, and coping techniques my mind has calmed. I enjoyed hearing from my son over a year ago as he looked at me in disbelief. There was a bunch of noise going on in the house and my lovely girlfriend was being her usual bubbly ("loud"..lol!) self and I was happy and calm. He commented on the change several times which brought tears to my eyes. He saw the change.
My mind still today struggles on a regular basis with the noise factor. Recently, MaryEllen and I have gone to several events where the noise and confusion was simply to much. I politely had to leave - my mind could not handle the confusion as it reminded me of what used to be happening on a daily basis on the inside of my mind, not on the outside. I find at other times that when my mind starts to head towards those storms again that I will reach into my coping technique bag. Inside there you would find deep breathing techniques, meditation, long walks, more vitamins, eating habit changes and other distractions. I am honored by my son's opinion on the change and I am equally honored when MaryEllen states that she does not understand why family thought that I caused them grief through constant irritation. Things have changed. The family never caused the irritations. My mind did as it reacted to the imbalances of the storm that were raging.