Adrenaline Rushes and Bipolar Disorder
I was thinking about adrenaline rushes and bipolar disorder the other day after I got to hang off the side of the CN Tower, the tallest, freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere. Taking the Edge Walk, as they call it, around the outside of the building, 1168 feet in the air, led to a huge adrenaline rush (Bipolar Treatment and Risk Tolerance). So what is the effect of an adrenaline rush on bipolar disorder?
Adrenaline Rushes, Not Paying Attention To Bipolar
I have had many adrenaline rushes as I used to paraglide and skydive. Those two activities led to about 200 adrenaline rushes and I enjoyed the vast majority (almost dying will also give you an enormous adrenaline rush, accomplished on at least one of my skydives, but it’s not nearly as fun). But, really, I don’t think I was paying close enough attention to any bipolar symptoms, at the time, to really see the effect the adrenaline was having on my bipolar.
I do remember the rush and I do remember the crash afterwards, but these are pretty normal adrenaline reactions. Of course, my bipolar disorder was not as bad during these times so that likely impacted my experience of adrenaline.
My Latest Adrenaline Rush and Bipolar Disorder
But this latest adrenaline rush was different. As I was walking outside the building I was freaking terrified. I didn’t really think I would be, but I was. Looking straight down was petrifying as the guide pointed out landmarks and so on. At the beginning it was all I could do just to not crush the tether to which I was tied to the building with all the strength my hands could muster.
But eventually, (rather quickly, actually) it came time to actually hang off the side of the building. I did this both leaning backwards and leaning forwards. Even thinking about it now my stomach gets a little squigy. I was quite sure, at the time, that I would be the first of the 85,000 people who have done this to break the harness or tether. Like, seriously.
Naturally, I didn’t. Naturally, I, like all the other people, was fine. Safety is kind of their thing, way up there.
Adrenaline’s Impact on My Bipolar Disorder
And when I got down to the ground the adrenaline rushed like crazy. I couldn’t stop smiling and I was awfully impressed with myself. It did not feel like bipolar hypomania but it did feel highly energetic. And then I realized something: I was feeling something other than pain and depression for the first time in years. For the first time in years, I was feeling something akin to normal. For the first time in years, it felt like I wasn’t suffering; it felt like I could breathe.
It is a depressing realization that I have to hang off a building at 1168 feet to feel like a person. I told this realization to the person I was with and it struck him sadly. It is a truly sad thing.
All that being said, the break from my normal experience of bipolar disorder was seriously welcomed and it actually gave me hope. Yes, I had a depressing realization, but I also realized that my body was still capable of feeling something other than pain. I didn’t know if it could, after all this time. But it can.
So maybe, just maybe, this means I’ll get that feeling back one day but in a more sustainable way. Maybe I’ll figure out how to beat back this bipolar a little bit more. Maybe all my future days won’t be the same.
And that is not a depressing thought at all.
[Postscript: In case you were wondering, a crash after that much adrenaline is nasty. It requires lots of rest and lots of doing nothing. Well, if you’re me, anyway.]
Tracy, N. (2015, November 10). Adrenaline Rushes and Bipolar Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2015/11/adrenaline-rushes-and-bipolar-disorder
Author: Natasha Tracy
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