Natalie D.

September 26, 2007

As long as I can remember I’ve been bipolar. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 19, but I can remember childhood episodes, of crying and carrying on all night for no particular reason. Thoughts of suicide and such all through childhood and adolescence.

I experience all the common symptoms of mania. Before we understood it, my boyfriend of three years, called it “Berserker Mode.” A mindset I fall into, where I get two days worth of work done in 5-8 hours, stay up all night, refuse meaningful physical contact, and am generally very “Mission” oriented. I can’t sleep or eat, until my sometimes pointless endeavors, are carried out. I smoke a pack a day and can’t stop shaking.

Then I have my depression phases. I can’t get out of bed, I call into work. I don’t get anything done around the apartment, I cry constantly and blame myself for the world’s problems.

When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was put on Seroquel and Lamictal…not good! I became a zombie, neglecting all my responsibilities. I was hallucinating, laughing uncontrollably at work. I was barley holding onto my job of three years (which I was quite proud of, I loved my work, co-workers and environment). I began storming through work like a soldier, literally threatening my beloved co-workers with death, if they got in my way.

I checked myself into the local hospital, and upon release..was fired from my job. I moved back in with my Dad and broke up with my boyfriend (my key supporter and best friend, who I had shared a home, life and bed with for two years) I lost 20 pounds (I stopped eating..all I did was sleep, cry and smoke insane amounts of cigarettes).

Later last year I moved back in with my boyfriend. I currently hold a tiny part-time job, and collect disability. I feel ashamed to be caught in the social security system. I’m still frightened to inform people about my disorder. I worry they won’t like me, or take me seriously, if they know something’s wrong with me mentally.

I keep busy though, I still play my guitar at the bar every Thursday night, and write hundreds of songs every year. I’ve been slipping recently with risky behavior lately though.

I recently took a job as an exotic dancer to fill some kind of validation void (or just cuz it’s scary). This has caused significant turbulence in my relationship (and why wouldn’t it?).

I stay at home all day still, doing pointless mathematical calculations in my head, pacing, and “interviewing” myself out loud, about subjects that hold no relevance. I feel unsafe to operate a car most of the time, experiencing desires to crash it and laugh while blood drips from my face. These visions are NOT healthy, and completely out of my control.

I have always struggled with emotional affairs, as well. I obsess over crushes, and am plagued with guilt over my intense sexual attraction to males and other females alike. While also plagued with guilt, over my fear of intimacy with my boyfriend and roommate of three years. He desires closeness in bed, I don’t even want to be touched most of the time. I despise cuddling, kissing and other activities healthy couples enjoy. I fear I will never be able to feel close to him physically.

The sexual appeal of strangers and new friends is overwhelming, because there is no emotional connectedness. Just fun and excitement. I went out to the bar to watch my friend’s band play, and next thing I knew I was making out with some drunk chick, I just met on the dance floor. As exciting as it was, I recognize that this is both dangerous for my health as well as for my relationship.

I can’t help it, I can’t handle the pressure of a committed relationship. Yet despite all the ways, and times I’ve let him down, my boyfriend has ALWAYS been right by my side. I am truly blessed to have his undying love surrounding me each day and reminding me how beautiful the world can be, if only I stop to take a breather! He is my bridge over impassable canyons!!!

I have been drinking, and leaning on vicodin, just to feel some sort of break in the intensity of my constant rough state. I stopped taking prescribed meds. The side effects were truly a hindrance to my health management. I still talk to a therapist every other week, it helps just to get it out. I’ve also stopped kickboxing, which was one of the best outlets I ever had. I simply don’t have the energy or patience most of the time to attend class anymore.

So here I am, up all night again…
Spilling my soul to strangers.
Hopefully someone out there can relate, and reassure me that I am not ALL alone in this constant battle of the moods.

Be well, Love always



  1. Dear Natalie;

    I can relate totally. Though I’m older, and don’t have the energy for exotic dancing anymore…

    I am most sensing this feeling of anger that you feel…from your comments of not wanting an intimate, long-term relationship. I think it is because it basically bores us! Anything stable and normal is really a BORE.

    Also, people without bipolar are soooooooooooooooooooooooo clueless as to what we are feeling. The constant need for stimulation, and excitement.

    This has to do with your liking the rush of new people and situations…no matter how dangerous to your health, well-being etc. Not to mention your relationship with this guy who has stood by you for 3 years. Hey, my husband and I just celebrated 23 years of marriage. I don’t know how he does it. Sometimes I just want to argue and disagree, he just clams up and walks away. He is very staid and calm…and it sometimes drives me crazy that I can’t get more of a “rise” out of him. He tells me this is how he keeps his sanity…and keeps me from “engaging” in my little games to satisfy my need for turmoil.

    Basically, my entire family has some form of “mental” illness. Though I’m the only one who carries the stigmatizing label of Bipolar. I am really quite open about it. After all I am the wife of the guy that wrote the book. So I am really out there. And one of the reasons is that I think the world needs to recognize what we are dealing with, and how really terrible MOST of the drugs are that the doctors use to try to “help” us. I know that it seems easiest to try and self-medicate, because we are usually smart enough and in-tune enough with our own bodies and rhythms to know what works best…and still allows us to function. I quit a very lucrative teaching job 4 years ago…and now have a much less stressful position as an ESL aid at a rural school district. It allows me to be out of a classroom of 30 students (which became too overwhelming, when I was dealing with major mood episodes, and medication changes, etc.) and yet still the ability to use my skills (I was a spanish teacher…and the majority of the ESL population here is latino) and also to be around kids…which is great and trust me, NEVER BORING! Plus, kids relate to the quirkiness in my personality…most of them anyway.

    I think you are really pushing your mental, physical and emotional states right now. As I said, it is obvious that you are fairly young. But please be advised that you will burn yourself out if you keep going at this rate. You need to TRY to find a psychiatrist who can work with you on a medication that you can tolerate. I am presently on Wellbutrin for my antidepressant, and it is recommended for its ability to help mood without leading to mania. And then I’m trying neurontin most recently as my “mood-stabilizer”. The mood stabilizers are the difficult ones, oh yeah, and the anti-psychotics FORGET IT! I was on seroquel AND abilify once. My older sister had called my shrink to rat me out once when I was having a particularly fun manic episode, and I was staying up all night making fires and hanging out all night, smoking and partying (with loud music, cigarettes and wine). It was christmas time, …which is my most “difficult” time, mania-wise. Anyway, it was a beautiful winter, and I was just enjoying the snow, and my fire, wine and cigarettes, (I had pulled rugs, blankets etc. out of the house and had made a shelter by the fire to hang out in (it was pretty cold outside). Anyway, I guess this thing I have with fire really freaks everyone out. And my mom was watching me from the house, and I fell into the fire. Next thing I know she’s yelling at me that she’s going to call the fire dept. etc. if I don’t come in the house. Well I wasn’t about to do that…so I called my sister to come over (it must have been about 1:00 in the a.m.) and she came over to try to get me to calm down and go to bed. Which I finally did. Anyway, she called my shrink the next day and reported the “episode”. That ended up getting me on a cocktail of seroquel and abilify. That stuff is deadly. Sure I was calmed down…all I wanted to do was sleep. Forget working, that was disastrous. AND I think that seroquel actually increases my paranoia, and it caused me to gain about 25 lbs. and, I really hate that. So I try to avoid the anti-psychotics.

    But I do think that there are some mood-stabilizers that aren’t so debilitating. And I think you could benefit from trying something to put you on a little more even keel. I know it is extremely difficult to give up the roller-coaster life style. It is sooooooooooooo much fun. But eventually it is disastrous, if you don’t rein it in. Please, consider some of the ones that have less dibilitating side-effects. I’m no doctor but here are a few that are less “dulling”…Lamictal, Neurontin, Topomax, and actually even the old standby lithium (although I had weight gain with Lithium…that’s actually the one and only reason that I stopped taking it. I thought mentally, and emotionally, I felt really my “calmest” most reasonable, and able to function…on Lithium.)

    Anyway, I’ve got to go to work now. Think about it, and maybe talk to your therapist or psychiatrist. You have to have a psychiatrist who really respects your right to NOT be drugged up.

    We are out here, and we care! And we must stand up for our right to be heard, to be DIFFERENT and to live a life that we can tolerate. I know it is really hard to even say that your bipolar to others. But I almost make myself…just to insist that “Hey, like me or not…I’m alive…and that’s what I am.”

    Good- luck…look to your lucky stars. They are there…clouds or not.

    Later, Always, Cecie

  2. I also suffer from Bi-polar and I can relate and understand many such feelings, you have no idea what a relief it is to know that somebody else goes through the same stuff.

  3. hi i can totaly relate i have been told i have bipolar 2 and ocd
    the weird thing with my illness is i never know what sort of mood im going to be in i storm through the day with excitable and sometimes weird thoughts then crash about 5 oclok in the morning and wake up depressed
    or visa versa if i take mood stableizers i go depressed if i take antidepressants i go up cant win any ideas.kind regards dave
    See David’s Story.

  4. I am 30 years old and have recently been diagnosed with Bipolr. I also suffer from PTSD and if you ask my family, they will tell you I am OCD, I am not. My 7 year old son also suffers and therefore life in my house is always interesting to say the least. My husband has stood by both my son and i during our really bad times and has put up with alot of emotional abuse from me when i am depressed. My son is on Abilify and i am not sure what i think of it yet. I do knwo the medication game is the worst part of Bipolar. My son has been on just about everything, i am on Seroquel and Lamictal so we will see how it goes. Just hang in there and know that there are people out there jsut like you.

  5. Hi Natalie,

    Oh how REFRESHING it is to here I’m not the only one!! I used to dance, I’ve got into drug addiction, left home, lived in hotels and then I cleaned up my act in 2006. When I cleaned it up I started seeing a psychiatrist and was diagnosed as bipolar with some other ‘illnesses’ as well. I’m 22 now. I seem to be going through weekly ups and downs and sometimes daily or hourly or even monthly. It’s very odd. I work out regularly and try to eat healthy. I keep making life commital decisions and backing out or making risky choices and trying to justify my behaviour as others will see it as destructive. Because I am drug free and doing very well for myself I feel as though my choices in sexuality aren’t bad ones because I don’t see them that way. I choose to see my ‘illness’ as something to embrace and whatever actions I have chosen during my different phases are still my choices and I although I am spontaneous and apathetic at times I still don’t do something destructive to my well being. The only thing I am dealing with now is how my loved ones are going to, or are viewing these decisions.

    I couldn’t agree with emotional connectedness. I could care less about being emotionally connected to anyone during some episodes. It sucks because with dancing you have to try and during those states that’s the LAST THING I want to do is try hard to connect with somebody.

    I don’t have visions with myself crashing a car, but I have a friend who’s had those with biking going into oncoming traffic. I myself have had thoughts of big planes crashing into buildings when I drive near the airport or just stupid mindless (brain garbage I call it) thoughts of things blowing up or crashing around me. It’s also odd. lol

    Anyway somewhat same deal? haha
    It’s just nice to hear from you guys because nobody close to me understands and they try to downplay everything like ‘i dont think there’s anything wrong with wanting to just sit on the couch all day long’? lol
    Good luck with all of your choices

  6. I’m glad to have read your stories in this site. I was diagnosed to have bipolar disorder too although I still have doubts about it.

    I’m currently researching about the illness and so far I can say that I can relate to your situation.

    I do love to put myself at risk.
    I do love to be stimulated.
    I like everything that is fast and I always get bored.
    I have been hopping from one job to another.
    I am tactless. Does this one have a relation to the disorder?

    When I am depressed?
    I don’t want to join the fun in a group. I just sit and watch.
    I want to be alone most of the time.

    I still have suicidal thoughts.
    I was suicidal and I did leave a suicidal note in the net. My plan was perfect so who knows when I would die.

    I am a very pessismistic person.

    Am I really bipolar?

  7. I so know what you are going thru. I was diagnosed late after most of my life was ruined. It explained so many of my past escapades. I went the dancing route and even hooked up with a bad motorcycle gang. I am on my meds and doing okay with occasional bad days.

  8. Wow reading all these comments just gives me some kind of assurance that I’m not alone. My father and myself have bipolar and I’m currently suffering a mixed episode (high and low at the same time) then back to mania. The unbridled restlessness and agitation is so unbearable. I’m energised but I don’t want to do anything. I’m not sleeping or eating but not tired at all. Plus when I’m in the car I think I’m a race car driver and the arrogance and self ego is to the point of extreme.
    My mind is not settled and my thoughts are racing.
    I’ve tried to exercise to the point of ridiculous i.e. climbed a well known fitness step track up a mountain and I sprinted down… and it didnt curb my energy. I’m distant but yet so overly involved with certain people to the point of being intrusive. I’m attracted to so many people and yet my poor husband has to suffer my aggression.
    I do believe people just don’t realise how bad bipolar is and how most of the time it’s just so hard to live with the depression or mania side.
    I don’t want sympathy I just want empathy and people to understand we just can’t switch it it off.

  9. Thanks so much…it helps to hear about other people’s thoughts and experiences in detail..being new to reading around this…I have been surprised at how similar many of our experiences are. It really does seem that this is a disease with really specific behavioural symptoms…still finding it a bit weird to get my head around.

  10. Hi all

    I have read all the comments here due to my girlfriend of a year now has bipolar. I needed to find out information of her condition and have been doing so since we have been going out. I love her to death, and I couldnt imagine my life without her. She has her good days and her bad days. Her bad days well…put me the my test, but I keep strong and try to keep things on a good note. She trys to get a rise out of me by saying hurtfull things but I know in her heart she loves me much.

    I guess iam comming to you guys for advice so here is what Iam asking. She likes to smoke here and there and use to drink somewhat. When I looked into her health condition I found information reguarding those two acts. I told her from my heart that I will not let her hurt herself in anyway shape or form because I will always look out for her because I love her. So should she smoke and drink while having bipolar. Is it better for her to do so or will it just give her more health issues later. Iam trying to be the best guy for her and making sure nothing bad happens to her, but I also dont want to seem to be “controlling”. So what should I do. Let her do her thing or stay firm and make sure she dosnt do more harm to herself? She use to cut herself also…something that really bugged me. I told her that its not good for her to do that and she has really come through on not hurting herself anymore which iam sooo proud of.

    Anyways in conclusion Iam just trying to be as supportive as I can with her and I get stronger each day with her. I know its tuff for her with what she has. And I keep trying to put myself in her shoes. Its hard at times and ask myself why do I bother, but then when shes in her good moments which is fairly alot…just makes me soo happy. We have alot in common and its just great. Anyways any input would be great and some advice for myself too. Iam feeling for all of yahs and my heart goes out to you all.


  11. I also am very glad to hear of someone else who goes through the same struggles. I also smoke like crazy when I am hypomanic. Good luck to you…truly! Sarah

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