A Bipolar Story

Having mom read me bible until I fall asleep next to me reminds me of our days in Tennessee last year. It was exactly about this time of year. Mom slept in my room as my comfort while I battled through extreme fear and anxiety. My symptoms were worse during the night, and the worst part was that I could not fall asleep. So mom would read bible verses, usually Proverbs, Psalms, and my favorite, Job.

How did I find myself back here?

I’ve made quite a number of dramatic life changes. The unfortunate thing was that I attempted to make changes during my worst period: Hypomania.

Hypomania describes the elevated mood or energy level above normal. Just look at the long list of symptoms.

  • increased energy and activity
  • feeling full of ideas with racing thoughts
  • increased confidence and self-esteem
  • decreased need for sleep
  • talkativeness
  • being easily distracted, and darting from one activity to another
  • elevated mood, but sometimes increased irritability that can quickly turn to anger
  • increased sociability and over-familiarity
  • increased sexual desire and decreased inhibitions
  • increased involvement in pleasurable activities with little thought for consequences, such as going on a spending spree or making reckless financial decisions
  • Having Grandiose thinking. For example, you believe you are better than anyone else at doing something or that you can accomplish a difficult task in hours instead of days.
  • lack of insight, or denial that behaviour has changed
  • increased awareness of senses such as smell and touch.

I’ve done many things that I wouldn’t have done otherwise while I was riding the fast charging hypomanic wave. The most recent ones are: moving back from Hawaii, a visit to a convent to join the Trappist order, another move to Maryland, and now, a new business. I did all these within a little over a year. This is, of course, while I was spending 75 percent of the time in the depression spectrum. How did I manage to do all that while I also had a part-time job at a coffee shop? But that’s the power of the mighty hypomania.

I’ve had both mania and hypomania. It’s hard to pinpoint which one is more dangerous. At least no one thinks you are normal when you are experiencing mania. Hypomania is different. To some who don’t know you, or even to those that know you very well, you might appear to be very exuberant, happy, care-free, brave, slightly crazy in a fun way, and always full of energy. But inside that happy faced facade, there is a destructive volcano brewing up, getting ready to explode at any moment.

The result may vary. Some people have sex like sex addicts. They simply cannot control the excessive amount of sexual energy. Some people make sudden moves. They make physical move to a different country, or state. They may get married suddenly, or leave marriage. Some people go shopping like they have all the money in the world. Some people take big loans, and purchase a house, a business, or a nice car.

Of course I am not saying that people who do these things listed above are all bipolars. However, if the patterns repeat-say, you have experienced all of the results of the hypomania(except the sexual part) like myself, then there is a very, very good chance that you do have hypomanias. And, of course, if you experience repeated depressive episode and spend majority of your time in the depression spectrum, then you have the complete set of bipolar disorder.

After the storm has passed, and almost two weeks of recurring panic attacks while my depression was deepening, I am finally able to see clearly. The hypomanic wave has passed at last, and now I see that the gallery, the product of my grandiose thinking, is about to be added on the list of my bipolar disaster list. The idea of the artists haven came suddenly in April. Two month later I opened a gallery. And now I face my first special exhibition on July 14. I titled it “One Gallery. One Afternoon. Five Artists.” And now I am afraid that it is going to be the only afternoon my gallery will play a gallery. How am I going to break this news that I am going to have to shut down the gallery to my five(five!) artists? At least, it wasn’t like I moved them to a completely different State like I have made my parents move when I thought I was going to become a nun in Virginia. I wanted them close to me since I will be enclosed in a cloistered monastery. So they moved to Maryland. And here they are. Oops.

The shock I felt after I left my home country, Korea, after I left my marriage, after I moved to Hawaii, after I moved back from Hawaii, after I came back from the visit to the monastery, and now, this shock rushes through my body and soul from the business I have recently started.

Am I ever going to recover from this? But then, like my friend D has told me yesterday, at least the aftermath is getting smaller and smaller. It’s just a small gallery in the country that no one knows about. It’s not like a broken marriage, or coming back from Hawaii bankrupted and in depression. I am not recovering from a fallen dream of becoming a nun. It’s only a gallery. And we will at least get one special event out of it, coming soon on July 14th. Ready or not, here it comes. And I must embrace it. After that, I can start cleaning up and picking up the broken pieces.

In a few of hours, I head out to meet a bipolar specialist with a phd degree in counseling who also owns a business counseling company. He is my bipolar friend, a very dear friend of mine, a very wise, mature soul that I trust. Norm is the first friend that I made here in Maryland. He would come in all the time and talk to me like on fire, and I had to focus really hard to catch all his racing thoughts. I knew that he was bipolar on our first encounter. I wish I had asked for his opinion before I jumped into this adventure. But at that time, I only believed in myself, only thought that I was better than most people, and that I was capable of making the best decision for myself. Part of me was afraid that he would say no to my idea.

Before it is too late, I now ask him for help. Is this why God has sent Norm into my life? Whether God foresaw this event and arranged him into my life or not, I have no doubt he can help me how to get out of the business I have started without much thinking.

And after that, I will slowly recover, as I have always done. I will get back on my feet. It’s just another bipolar story to be added. That’s all. Life will resume, and God will bring something good out of this mishap. That, I know for sure.

The bottom line is: I have one less thought I have to act on. Isn’t that amazing? I think it is quite an accomplishment.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. What will you do if the gallery event is successful?

    1. lilyboat says:

      I am trying my best to make it successful, but after that, I will have to get back on my path, Terry.. Please pray for me.. I know you do!!

  2. You have a powerful story to share, my friend, and you tell it beautifully.
    I pray God give you clear guidance – that the Word be a lamp for your feet, to keep you from stumbling, and a light for your path, so you can see what steps to take.

    1. lilyboat says:

      Thank you Tony, I have learned that I must always base my decisions from the Word, not from some voices I hear in my head. Thank you for your deep prayers. They are most helpful. And I pray for you as well!

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