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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

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

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

  1. Interesting question tigglehedge – if there were an easy answer it would not take three to ten or more years to get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

    If it were me I would start by asking not-too-obvious leading questions like – so how are you feeling? Is that normal for you? and so forth. Get them thinking about their own behaviour. Otherwise all you can do is be a friend, and encourage them to get help. The right way to do this is to keep your support going. Don’t try to fill in the role of a professional. This can be very damaging to a friendship.

    I had a friend who tried so hard to remedy my problems for me, because she had trained as a counsellor, and when it didn’t work she gave up on the friendship entirely. Not helpful for either of us.

    People with mental illness really need friends, just to be friends.

  2. Natasha, could you or maybe someone commenting here, tell me how others (family members, friends, acqaintances, work colleagues) go about successfully suggesting to someone that they might be suffering from Bipolar? I ask because I have known others who have been in that position, plucking up the courage to do so, only to be meant with a wall of resistance, and a tirade of abuse! One of my best friends was in that position, and would later tell me that is caused a five-year long rift between her she and her son! (That’s pretty sad, but she said that she was only trying to help – but later told me,that, when she got that reaction, that she figured it must have been because he just felt she was interfering.)

    Could you tell me exactly WHAT is the correct way to approach the subject, with out getting such a response, or causing offence?

  3. I am Bipolar 1 and my life since that first manic episode has torn my whole world apart. Whenever Im supposed to be in “remission” I only feel numb or flatlined. I dont enjoy anything that I used to love because I dont have a significant other to share those things with. I live alone and somewhat isolated, however I do have family that supports me. Even with my family being around, I still feel completely alone in their presence.

    I’m in constant therapy and while it does seem to help when Im in a session, it quickly fades as I drive back down the highway to my apt. I hear those stories of how people thrive and have families, jobs, friends, etc..I cant even imagine that. Outside of my family, I’ve completely lost touch with my old friends/close relationships. My biggest fear is that I will always feel/be alone. I cannot bare living the next 40yrs of my life this way.

    My mental state is always off balance. Im mentally uncomfortable most of the day, wanting to tear out of my skin. When Im not severely depressed, other issues about my health, body, etc. take over and throw me back down into the pit.

    I want to work again, but Im socially awkward inside. I can pull off being normal infront of someone just long enough for me to pass as normal, but I couldn’t consistently do that in the same environment very long. Sometimes I wonder if this is solely my illness at work, or is it all my other fears and issues I have that creates the overall monster.

    I pray everyday for peace, and at some point in the day I’ll feel it for a little while before the hopelessness comes back. Im convinced if I weren’t living alone and had a warm body beside me every night, that it would somehow be a lot easier to handle all of this. I miss having companionship on an intimate level (not necessarily sexual either) just someone there.

    Anyway, I saw this forum and decided I would vent. Thank you for having a place for those of us that need an outlet.

    1. Ditto……all but the praying bit but ditto. I couldn’t have written it better myself. That’s my life and exactly how I feel all the time.

  4. Hi sb,

    I’m sorry to hear things are so bad for you right now. I would just encourage you to remember one thing – you are not alone. Many people out there are feeling exactly the way you do and are waking up every day dealing with what you do. I can understand that you might feel no one is supporting you, but still, that doesn’t mean you’re alone.

    – Natasha

  5. I am bipolar too, I am going through a horrible time right now. I can’t even get out of bed and I feel like no one is supporting me. When I wake up in the morning I wish that I didn’t wake up…. If I saw you at the beach, I would have sat with you.

  6. Hi Laquatia,

    You are worthy of good relationships. We all are. You are human, just like everyone else. You get things right, you may mistakes and you get back up and try again. Just because you feel like you’ve failed in the past that doesn’t make you unworthy in the future.

    People have a hard time trusting their own intuition after certain situations have occurred. It has certainly happened to me, and I know it happens to people all over. You are not alone in that.

    Yes, social life seems like one, huge ball of difficulty, but you’re looking at too much all at once. Try to focus on small changes you _can_ make. If you feel like you neglect people, then write yourself reminders about it. I know that sounds clinical, but maybe that’s what you need to start moving into a new direction. Start with something small. Something you can control.

    You will likely make more mistakes and find more problems, but you can change. You can create positive relationships in your life. It’s not easy, but you _can_ do it. But it will take time. Try not to pressure yourself or beat yourself up when you misstep.

    You might consider getting some therapy to help. Some therapy focuses on relationships and life skills and that might be perfect for you. That way you will have support behind you as you try to make a change.

    Good luck.

    – Natasha

  7. I am not suicidal. However, I am miserable in my skin. I’m so lonely! This feeling isolates me and my lack of social skill enable me to weed out the good and the bad people. As a result I tend to alienate myself from the friends I do have. Make selfish decisions that affect my relationships with friends and family. Make new friends and neglect them as well. My inability to weed out good men have me in awe when a guy finds out who I really am and realize I’m not the witty interesting type, they use me and deal with me when its convenient to them. Its a vivious cycle and now I can’t handle everything. I just wish that I had a better hold on life, abetter grasp of people. I don’t feel like I’m worthy of good relationships. It makes me so sad and unhappy

  8. After rereading these posts and the ‘exchanges’, it’s hard not to see the pattern. This blog is ‘breaking bipolar’, one of the ‘Healthy Place’ blogs.

    There’s a wealth of info here, some of it might be helpful.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/health/16brod.html

    http://consults.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/15/an-expert-look-at-borderline-personality-disorder/

    http://consults.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/19/expert-answers-on-borderline-personality-disorder/

    http://www.borderlinepersonalitydisorder.com/

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