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Being Bipolar and Alone Isn't Poetic or Romantic

Go to the ocean. The ocean may have been calling or I might have simply been talking to myself. But somewhere in my head a voice said, “go to the ocean.”

I went because I thought the warm sun might feel good on exposed skin. Skin that hadn’t felt a breath in weeks.

The beaches here aren’t like the postcard-perfect vistas of Hawaii, they don’t have imported, pea-size gravel, like those of Monaco, and they don’t have the azure water and latte froth sands of Venezuela; but I like them just fine.

Rocky West Coast Beach
Beautiful West Coast beach photo provided by Chris Lawes.

Here we have navy and teal water butted up against fist-sized rocks, sun-bleached and strengthened driftwood, framed by often slimy kelp. Every surface is difficult to walk on and inevitably I fall. Someone’s wet dog always seems to find me irresistible.

But I like it just fine. It’s a West Coast beach. It’s where I come from. It’s who I am.

A Life With Bipolar Disorder Is Lonely

I am the only person here alone. I am always the only person alone. People have brought friends, lovers, children, and dogs, but I, as ever, have no one to bring. I sit with stones digging into me and kelp’s slime drying onto my sleeve, to watch the people. The people with lives. I don’t have a life. I can only watch life pass by. Observe it. Like a specimen in a lab.

I try to read a book or think of the over-romanticized notion that this loneliness is simply fodder for the writer in me. But I’m not 21 any more. I’m past the point where it’s poetic to be alone, knowing that I have all the time in the world to create a web of relationships. Being alone isn’t romantic or just a convenient pretense for ennui. It’s just lonely. And increasingly pathetic.

I have spent depressed years crying on this beach and no one has ever walked up and sat down next to me. No one has ever asked why I am crying, sometimes wailing, at the sea. I’m sure it’s because they are there, on the beach, with Someone. I’m sure it’s because with Someone to focus on, my pain is easily ignored, dismissed. If I had Someone, maybe I could ignore it too.

No, of course this isn’t true. I know a convenient lie when I write one.

Once Bipolar, Always Bipolar

It’s too easy to pick what you don’t have and assume that its acquisition would fix everything; would fix a life broken by tears, knives, sickness, and sorrow. But it won’t. Having obtained it, there would simply be another brass ring to hopelessly reach for. Broken would still be broken. Sick would still be sick. Nothing gets you better except getting better. Being better.

In bipolar disorder, this is being “in remission”. You never get to be not bipolar. You get remission from illness. For a while you’re “better”. You remit. Until you don’t.

And I don’t.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

Author: Natasha Tracy

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35 thoughts on “Being Bipolar and Alone Isn't Poetic or Romantic”

  1. “Broken would still be broken. Sick would still be sick. Nothing gets you better except getting better. Being better.” Truer words have never been spoken!

  2. Hi,
    you poor thing, sounds like you’re going through a depressed phase at the moment. Don’t lose hope. I sometimes wonder If some of the medicine actually makes things worse. I did a timeline of all the meds I have ever been on, and life events and moods etc and found one in particular was harmful, so if you are feeling particularly blue or apathetic or hopeless it might be a good idea. Sometimes it’s not always the illness. Alot of the meds we are prescribed can actually cause the symptoms they are supposed to treat. For me the major things that have helped me hope are regular psychotherpay ( I see my psychiatrist for 30 mins every week and I crap on the entiretime about whatever is on my mind and he might challenge me on things u say etc) and also, I stopped all alcohol a year a go.
    Good luck honey. Xxx
    Claire xxxx

  3. Hi Claire,

    Well yes, I am going through a down period, it’s true. But frankly, that expresses most of my life, so it’s not terribly unusual.

    There are a few things I have found made me worse, but mostly I could pick them out fairly easily. Make me psychotic, manic, more depressed, whatnot.

    Right now I’m having a lot of medical issues in terms of doctors and medications, but I won’t get into it here.

    And hey, I like therapists just fine. I just don’t see their value at this point. I’ve had over a decade of therapy. And I almost never drink.

    Thanks for comment and suggestions.

    – Natasha

  4. “Being alone isn’t romantic…It’s just lonely. And increasingly pathetic.”

    This is a very harsh assessment, and one that doesn’t get anyone anywhere. It’s not an accident that so many people who grew up in homes that were ‘invalidating’ or otherwise psychologically or physically abusive have such difficulty later in life with depression or BP disorder. Our brains became badly wired by the experiences: I’m convinced of this.

    Many of us went through life simply not knowing how to ‘be’, because we never learned to ‘be’. We experienced one difficulty after the other, some more severe than others, that left us doubting our ability, or worthiness, to relate to others. The medical industry, the therapeutic industry, has a stake in ensuring that we continue to call ourselves sick: patients, even victims, that without lifelong, changing, drug intervention, and decades of therapy, we will never be ‘well’ or ‘better’. At some point, every person must make a solid, conscious decision, a commitment, to the betterment of one’s own life, and devote all one’s waking hours to seeing this through.

    There are many, many people who find themselves alone, for any number of reasons, that were not within their control: death or serious illness or some bad circumstance. Every person, no matter what his condition or personal circumstances, has gifts to offer to others, to the world. It is a requirement, in return for the life we have been given, to find out what these are, and to share them.

    A loving, empathetic, patient therapist, and only a therapist with these qualities, will definitely help the journey. No pills, no drugs, will ever be able to do this.

  5. all that you guys are saying makes sense , no doubt .
    In my case,however, Lithium carbonate ,as prescribed, has done a lot of
    good. It is mood stabilizer…some side effects to start with ,but they all
    fade away gradually.
    What I am trying to say is proper,prescribed medicine can help a great
    deal.Therefore should be taken seriously .
    My Bipolar is due to chemical imbalance in the brain and inhherited from
    Dad’s side. Thats what my doc tells me.

  6. Your little nice piece did ring a bell. I’ve been married for 18 painful years. My wife, however, would refuse too often to share with me even vacations, not to say family gatherings. It’s at those gatherings where my loneliness really strikes.

    Being lonely amid your close family (siblings and in-laws) is specially painful, since you realiza you won’t ever share a life wiith no one. I’ve known for long that I’m staying in this marriage just for the sake of my kids.
    Now they are turning into young adults. Now my life seems as senseless as it gets.

    Have you been driving at 70 mph and closed your eyes, hoping it ends then and there? Well, I have.
    I’ve been on therapy for 4 years now. It indeed has been better; far better. But it is still lonely. Very lonely. And I’m tired.

  7. “Being alone isn’t romantic…It’s just lonely. And increasingly pathetic.”

    This isn’t a harsh assessment, it’s the naked truth for many of us. I am all for positive thinking and reflecting on the why’s and how’s, but sometimes you just need to tell it how it is. Censoring your state of mind never helps.

    Thank you Natasha, for giving my feelings a voice that I’m incapable of at the moment.

  8. Mediamoxy – I’m glad to give you a voice. Honestly, that’s why I write. I’m glad to see someone who appreciates truth. I do.

    – Natasha

  9. The whole purpose of the forms of psychotherapy tailored to helping bipolar people are basically structured around the idea of ‘monitoring’, what you call ‘censoring’ one’s thoughts: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, etc.
    It is based on the fact that everything one experiences, feels, and acts on, follows from what we think: our thoughts.
    There are a multitude of ways to think about, or reframe, one’s circumstances.
    Reframing one’s thoughts can have a profound improvement on the way we look at life, the way we feel on any given day.
    A good place to start is to challenge the distortortion that we are someone cursed, fated to receive more of the bad things in life than the good, that somehow we are always dealt a bad hand in the game of life.
    If our perception is that we seem to be on the receiving end of more bad things, it is much more likely because this is how are thinking was ‘trained’ in youth.
    The great reality of life is that our past, and the patterns of thinking we lived with, does not have to dictate the future.

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