So here’s the thing; sometimes I am irritated by just about everything that is going on around me, a distraction so wanton and even ridiculous, that I can talk myself into a destructive stupor.
This is an insight into what happens when a Mixed State begins to take hold, whilst I still have the presence of mind to recognise it’s happening. For the Wiki fans amongst you, here’s their initial description:
“In the context of mental disorder, a mixed affective state, also known as a ‘mixed’ or ‘mixed-manic’ episode, is a condition during which features of mania and depression—such as agitation, anxiety, fatigue, guilt, impulsiveness, irritability, morbid or suicidal ideation, panic, paranoia, pressured speech and rage—occur simultaneously or in very short succession.
In current psychiatric nomenclature, they are a defining feature of bipolar I disorder, a type of bipolar disorder wherein mania or, less commonly, mixed-mania alternate with euthymia and, in the vast majority of cases, depression.”
What does this mean?
For myself, and perhaps for others with Bipolar Disorder Type I, this is hell in its simplest form. The depressions are not hell for me, the mixed states are. They are hell because I feel depressed, so I feel suicidal, low, demotivated, fatigued in spirit, but I have a mind that is speeding up and needing to process information faster than the world is turning around me, which is dizzying in itself, and feeling suicidal in that state is likely to be the time when the act is carried out because it is simply mental torture. It’s also hell because it’s not actually a depression, so rather than not being bothered about anything, I am quite simply bothered by everything! I become sensitive to sounds, smells, sudden movement, intakes of breath, movements of the body, movements of the eyes, I become super-paranoid, everyone is talking about me and none of it is pretty. It’s hell because I want to carry on with my day but it seems that everyone is turning against me; every car, every dog, every pencil, every raindrop. It’s hell because suddenly I am angry at everyone and I am afraid that I will say something that can’t be unsaid, damage a relationship that can’t be undone. The rants that go on inside my head are more potent and poisonous and feverish than a US political debate from within a MMA wrestling cage. It’s hell because this is the danger zone for me, where I am likely to stop out of spite, disappear, run away, give up, rant, rant rant, and rant some more because it’s spilling through my ears and into my nose and down my throat straight to my exploding heart to encompass every fibre of my being. I am a walking rant because my mind has decided it’s time to flip the switch to ‘shake it up’-mode.
What does this mean?
For my family, it means I am more than annoying. I am irritable, uncomfortable to be around, likely to snap at the slightest misdirection. I only demand, I don’t ask politely. I consistently blame, unless chocolate is delivered. Why chocolate, I’m not sure, but it appears to be my only true comfort food. Galaxy or Milka if you’re asking. I use blackmail to get what I need to try and dampen the fires in my mind. It’s not because I want to, it’s because I am trying to stop the noise, the demons, the deluge of rage that is flooding my bloodstream and infecting my soul. But don’t be asking me to calm down, don’t try to help me, because this will stoke the fire and cause me to feel guilty and guilt is only translated into even more rage. It just needs to pass. Unfortunately, it’s not a constant, these emotions swell and dip like the waves on the ocean, and there is little self-control to assist. This is the unpredictable nature of a mental illness.
What does this mean?
For society it’s a situation that lends itself to disaster. Acting out in a mixed state could be misinterpreted as something antisocial, even criminal, and likely to bring about the detention of ill people. Ill people who are then arrested. Ill people who are sectioned. Ill people who are misunderstood because they are acting outside of the accepted boundaries of social norms – norms that don’t take into account that not all minds are created equally, which does not mean that any are less normal than the other.
So what happens next?
Today, I can sense this dark storm cloud approaching, its lightning bolts scare me, the thunder is deep and threatening. I want this to pass swiftly, painlessly. Medications have limits. Unless I am drugged into numbness they could never outsmart the mind. Running now will be uncomfortable, and the inside of my head will resemble a car crash, but I can only hope that running will assist the transition and bring about some peace of mind. Literally. I have to believe in the running.
Don’t be afraid of this situation.
Believe me, I am more scared than you are because I don’t know how it will end (and nothing is more fearful than loss of self-control), but that said, when the mind is in sleep mode (not asleep but dormant of rage), it is possible to learn from, reflect on, and become aware of a deeper essence of life in a way that is immeasurable and perhaps inaccesible to those who are not struck with a mental illness. It is a glimpse of a spiritual awakening, because the flurry of ideas, topics, emotions, iotas of light that twinkle in the mind, are all part of the link between what humans think they know, and what they’ve yet to understand if only they could disassociate themselves from materialism. This is the interesting part of the Mixed State. It is a gateway, yes, through hell, but it certainly leads to something incredibly beautiful.
If only I could keep hold of that aspect for longer.