Bipolar Symptoms

by Mark Ivar Myhre on October 5, 2011

Someone recently asked me if I would talk about my own experiences with bipolar disorder, and with some reluctance, I’ve decided to do it.

I was crazy, no doubt about it, and my bipolar symptoms reflected it. How I survived with only a few bumps and bruises is beyond me. Keep in mind, no one ever diagnosed me with bipolar, or manic depression. I’d never even heard the word ‘bipolar’ back then. And my only familiarity with manic depression was the Jimi Hendrix song.

Jimi Hendrix - Manic Depression

Manic Depression's Touching My Soul

I just thought I was crazy. No one else I knew was doing the things I was doing, that’s for sure. But when you look at the manic depression symptoms, I certainly had all of them to one degree or another, at one time or another.

Depression started early with me. Some time in grade school. The mania, as I recall, started about the time I left home at 17. I hitchhiked all over the country, usually alone and without a penny in my pocket. At the time, I was too dumb to be scared. I was a fearless coward.

I found myself in numerous dangerous situations, but somehow always emerged unscathed. No character was too unsavory for me to associate with. No den was too iniquitous. On more than one occasion I can remember hearing a phrase that went something like – “Usually we kill people like you”.

On a lighter note, I also remember hiking across the Continental Divide in Colorado, visiting the Baba Ram Dass commune in New Mexico, frolicking on a nude beach in the Florida Keys, and sightseeing in Washington, DC. So it wasn’t all bad. Actually, I didn’t think any of it was bad at the time. Life was one endless adventure.

I was living life as a maniac. High on life, and high on whatever I could get my hands on. Nothing was off limits. It’s like I was seeking sensation. Any sensation. Completely reckless and without benefit of discernment. I did and tried everything I possibly could. No time to sleep. No time to be depressed. No time to be responsible…

Seeking sensation, in a wild and crazy way. Eventually I’d done and seen and tried all I wanted to do and see and try, and that’s when the depression came back with a vengeance.

“Did you forget about me? I didn’t forget about you!” it seemed to say.

How My Bipolar Symptoms Changed

I fell deeper than I ever knew I could. The fun was over. Life got serious. Very serious. And very heavy. Before long, the maniac came back to rescue me, and I started cycling back and forth from mania to depression. It was almost like – maniac by day, depressed by night. That was my new bipolar symptoms expression.

No Bed Of Roses With Bipolar

It's no bed of roses when you deal with bipolar symptoms.

It was at this point I started to believe I was crazy. Whatever love and caring and compassion I’d had, got stuffed down into my shadow, and I became a cold blooded sociopath. Now we’re getting to the part I’m reluctant – even three decades later – to talk about.

I hurt a lot of people, and I can never make it right.

Let me give you one example which is neither extreme nor isolated. I snuck into a law enforcement officer’s home and stole his service revolver while I could hear him in he other room. I didn’t know he was a cop before I entered the house; I didn’t know there would be a gun; I didn’t even want the gun. I just took it. I probably would have given it back, except the next day I couldn’t remember which house I’d taken it from. I’d been in so many…

Why would I do such a crazy thing? I was seeking sensation. I was numb, and I wanted to feel something. Plus, my ego was running the show. I did whatever my ego told me to do.

Somebody had to run my life. And if I’m not going to be responsible, that means some other part of me – some ‘lesser’ part of me – has to take over.

Actually, it was a pack of them, like a pack of hyenas. My ego, my inner martyr, my inner adolescent, my rage, my maniac, my inner sociopath, and a few others just for good measure. My life was ruled and controlled by the whims of various parts of me which I didn’t even know existed.

And they did not have my best interest at heart!

I was a victim of myself. Not because I had to be, but because I refused to accept any kind of responsibility for my life. I threw my power down, and refused to believe I even had any power. These errant parts of my consciousness picked it up and carried on when I wouldn’t.

Somebody has to drive the car. They took turns holding the steering wheel of my life and stomping on the gas pedal while I trembled in the back seat. This is the stage, in my early 20’s, where I started to get very, very scared. Too scared to leave the house.

I knew something was terribly wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had no idea that I, like everyone else, have many different aspects to my consciousness.

The maniac never operates alone. My inner maniac is one of many parts of my consciousness. Mania doesn’t exist in a vacuum. At the very least, I needed an ego to lie to me, and I needed to abdicate responsibility for my feelings and my life.

Looking back, I’m not sure it could have been any other way. As long as I listened to my ego, as long as I had so much unresolved pain and shame, as long as I felt my only option was to run away from my problems and my life, then I was destined to go through some extreme mania as well as some horrible depression. Given the circumstances, I believe I was destined to live out those bipolar symptoms.

My ego and inner martyr told me I was helpless and hopeless, and I believed them. I became helpless and hopeless – a victim of the errant parts of me. At the time I could see no way out. I figured I would either kill myself, or someone else would do it for me. That was my ‘exit strategy’.

Finally, at the age of 27, I did manage to OD on coke. I remember looking down at a strange pale body which I felt no attachment to, and feeling so ecstatic that the pain was finally over. I reviewed my life, and could find no reason to stay. I felt wonderful and had no desire whatsoever to continue living on earth.

Unfortunately (as I felt at the time) I sensed what seemed like a giant hand pushing me back down into my body. All the pain returned. I was back with the ego and the maniac and all the others…

It’s funny how there was no grand epiphany, no divine revelations to accompany my ignominious return to misery. Life still sucked. Anybody else would have seen God or been enlightened or something. Me? I just returned to a miserable life and miserable bipolar symptoms.

My only avenue of escape cut off, I knew I would no longer be trying to kill myself the coward’s way by doing enough coke till I passed out. Or any other way, for that matter.

Anybody else would have pulled it off, or at least would have a book-worthy experience. But for me, it was nothing but a continuation of a life not worth living. Poor me. At least it shocked me out of the depression and the mania for a while, as the pity took center stage. And who’s to say which is worse? Pity is a silent killer in its own right.

Gradually, with the help of various parts of me who do have my best interest at heart, such as my soul, my spirit, my higher self and my future self, I was able to come to some realizations.

  • I did not come here to be miserable.
  • I did not come here to be controlled by the lesser parts of me.
  • I did not come here to live a coward’s life of irresponsibility.

I came here to return to the natural life. And that encompasses quite a bit more than it might seem at first glance.

So what of the mania – and my bipolar symptoms – expressed by an inner maniac? The more I took responsibility for my life and my feelings, the less of an influence he became. By a decade or so after my ‘non-book-worthy’ near death experience, he would only show up at certain times. Such as, whenever I was in a fearful social setting. Like when I’d go to a party where I didn’t know anybody. Or, when I had some important meeting.

In other words, whenever there was a situation that scared me and I didn’t want to be responsible for the fear. Or perhaps a situation where I just didn’t want to ‘be real’ in some other way. I used my maniac as a shield to ‘protect’ me. This became my new expression of bipolar symptoms.

It might have been annoying, perhaps even insulting to others and embarrassing to me in hindsight, but still, no one – including me – was in any kind of real danger any more.

I let my mania take over when I didn’t want to be responsible for my feelings.

I never consciously worked with my inner maniac because I never knew he existed. Back when he was causing problems, that is. At this point, I acknowledge him and I’ve made my peace with him.

“No you haven’t!” I just heard a voice say.

Great. Let me go check this out, and I’ll get back with you on the next post…

This should be interesting.

all the best,

Mark

Mark Ivar Myhre
The Emotional Healing Coach
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{ 17 comments }

heather October 5, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Very bold post! Thank you!!! I just got out of a relationship with someone who had a similar background, although he hasn’t healed and gone on to heal like you have:(. But it helped me understand. All the great healers are wounded healers.

Maya October 5, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Mark, your post is very inspiring. I’m also bipolar and the way you described your various selves is very helpful to me. It’s funny but during the last few days, because I’m on the verge of going to the next level, my fearful and self-destructive self has been batling with me to convince me to withdraw and not take responsibility for my growth. But this time it’s not working. I already have grown too much and I know myself and my battles.Thank you for sharing. Many blessings.

meg October 5, 2011 at 1:56 pm

This was very helpful.

Deb October 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm

I am not sure I quite understood. I thought that sociopaths couldn’t change. I have been very hurt by a life long friend, because she is a sociopath and she still is trying to hurt me. I was told she would never change nor have feelings of guilt or understand nor care, how hurt I have been. You seem to have overcome yours and I truely hope that some day she might too.

Linda October 5, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Thank you so much Mark for sharing and being so brave. Your emails and posts are helping me tremendously. I believe I am “bipolar II”. I didn’t know there were others like me, or a name for what I have, until Catherine Zeta-Jones was reported on in the media for her hospitalization. I just knew that I was “different”, and that it was absolutely not tolerated in my family, so “different” translated to “flawed” and “a mistake” in my mind. I am now finally dealing with my issues of depression head-on. I am in the process of tapering off of Effexor, which is both scary and uplifting: I am finally going to be free of this drug! Thank you again, Mark, for all you do.

Bobbi October 5, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Wow I do not fully understand but wow .

Kat October 5, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Mark,

Thank – You! I have been reading and when I can purchasing some of your e-books and I appreciate your sharing some of your experiences. I have much in common to your story here. I have not been diagnosed bi-polar but other junk. I sometimes have no clue how to fix this person called me. How did you ever figure all this stuff out. Maybe you could give some tips?

Kat

Chris October 6, 2011 at 1:43 am

Congratulations Mark. You have certainly climbed a large mountain in your life. You give me hope. Sharing our secrets with others is very hard and I thank you for sharing your experiences.

Danielle October 6, 2011 at 6:11 am

What you said was absolutely riveting. Thank you. I feel moved, inspired and in your debt. May your circle of influence continue to widen. Thank you again.

dar coneray October 6, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Thank-you for sharing your story!

damo October 7, 2011 at 9:15 am

This story you are telling, can not have been easy to write,
to reveal your mistakes, and share them in full light,
only people who have gone through real life can truly learn.
A man in isolation can stay a saint in pretense to himself ,until he is provoked by life.

life in my town-I have seen and been involved in similar
situations and can understand,many friends of mine have been
lost through drug use, its just a fact of life in our city.

But to learn that the universe supports us and care’s about us personally is the most valuable lesson i have learned,I have always found your writing thought provoking , many thanks.

Amy October 10, 2011 at 11:49 am

Bi-polar is better than narcissism in a way — Managable and predictable (for some)… I’d take bi-polar family members over narcisstic ones. You’re blessed to have better grip / understanding of that illness while my bi-polar Uncle ended his life 2 years ago. He was either adventerous or withdrawn, … but cheered up when we visited. Then again, adventerous or withdrawn… Anyway, one morning, he told his brother, my other Uncle that he found peace and stopped taking meds. He was euphoric and floaty, not “quite” grounded. We all pleaded him to take his meds again. He announced, “I’ve made my decision” and he looked really peaceful and happy with that decision (we asked and he didn’t say). Three weeks later, he committed suicide, and it happened 2 weeks prior the family’s oldest son’s wedding (first wedding). He never left a note. We never understood why he would do that 2 weeks before his firstborn son’s wedding…first wedding of all weddings.

Thank you for sharing.

Mark Ivar Myhre October 10, 2011 at 11:58 am

Hi Amy,

sorry to hear about your uncle.

Yes, I realize that meds may be a lifesaver for some people with bipolar disorder

Andy Golay October 17, 2011 at 5:03 am

Hi Mark,

Thanks for being so open. it’s a little spooky how much i can relate to your story, even the specifics… Not sure what else to say… shall email, methinks.

andy

Mark Ivar Myhre October 17, 2011 at 9:31 am

Hey Andy,

got your email.

I’ll reply shortly.

seo January 31, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Hey would you mind letting me know which web host you’re utilizing? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most. Can you suggest a good internet hosting provider at a honest price? Thanks a lot, I appreciate it!

Mark Ivar Myhre January 31, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I use BlueHost – but I haven’t really shopped around much. They seem okay.

Maybe it helps that I use the Thesis platform for this blog?

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