Have you ever been in a traffic jam that suddenly cleared up for no reason at all? You look around and you quicken your pace only to find absolutely no trace of any reason that you should’ve slowed down in the first place.
Ever been speeding along the freeway and looked down and realized you were going faster than you thought, dangerously fast? You knew you couldn’t hit the breaks because you would spin out of control so you had to ride it out a bit, slowly reducing speed until you were back within the limits of control?
Ever been cruising along and come quickly upon a traffic jam? It took you so by surprised that you had to slam on your breaks and hope you manage to come out of this without an accident.
This is the best set of metaphors I can offer for what thinking is like to a person with Bipolar. Sometimes your thoughts speed by way too fast, sometimes they come to a screeching halt, and sometimes they go back to normal without warning.
The physical feelings associated with the situations I described above and these bipolar thinking patterns aren’t all that dissimilar either. The frustration of not knowing why you were stopped up, the fear of realizing your thoughts are speeding out of control, the panic of feeling yourself come to a quick stop.
Usually it is one or the other. And I don’t imagine that is very different for most people. Feeling sluggish or feeling on point. With Bipolar the slows are at a snail’s pace, where you can barely come up with anything for a long time. This is usually associated with depression. And when your thoughts are racing so fast you can’t seem to hold on to one long enough to even know what it was, that is associated with mania.
Sometimes, however, they happen all at the same time. You go from slow motion to hyper drive without warning and it can shake you. This is generally associated with a mixed state, the in-between periods when you aren’t really one way or the other but you also aren’t fine.
They say those times are the most dangerous. A person has the thought and will to commit suicide and enough energy and commitment to do it. I think it is the most dangerous time because it is the scariest. Your mood fluctuates out of control, your thoughts are all over the map, and your anxiety it on high.
These times pass quickly, never lasting for longer than a day that I can remember. But it is like sitting in the most frustrating traffic you have ever experienced, completely confused by the traffic patterns, and not in great control of your car.