Bipolar Thoughts

Identities

I have had a sudden rush of not specifically bipolar symptoms pop back into my life suddenly.

My restless leg syndrome has become unbearable. And I have had sleep paralysis a half dozen times in the last couple of weeks, which simply makes it terrifying to fall asleep.

But most importantly my anxiety is way up.

It is always an interesting lesson in how much anxiety can affect your physical state. Right now, I feel nauseous, I can’t sleep, I am restless, and I am getting acne all over my body. I ache all over and I haven’t had a hard shit in weeks. I constantly feel tired, exhausted even, and yet I cannot sleep when I lay down. My stomach is always upset, and I feel jittery, like a big test is coming soon.

I had one night of heavy drinking a couple of weeks ago, which was a mistake. A decision I made because I wanted to, because I wanted to do something that no one would tell me was a good idea. Something where I had complete control to lose control. I was alone, so I don’t know why I needed to assert my childish dominance in this way, but it is what I did.

My life has been surrounded lately by people pushing me into tiny corners of what they think I should be, and how I should be acting.

If it was up to me, when I got home from work I would go to the gym for an hour and a half, and then eat dinner, and then play guitar for an hour or so, and then watch a movie, and then read before bed. Once a week I would go to therapy, twice a week I would teach a class at a university and on weekends I would podcast and golf and smoke meat all day long. Trips to the DIA or DSO would be frequent, as well as trips to art installations, jazz clubs, and now maybe movie sets, those would be the highlights of my week.

But I am married, and I have a child, so that isn’t my life. It isn’t that my life is bad. I don’t want to imply that being married with children isn’t what I wanted. It is exactly what I wanted! I just wasn’t expecting it to be so difficult to define myself outside of those two things.

I am not the type of person who wants to lose my identity just because I have a child. I do want having a child to radically alter my identity. But I want it to augment, not confine.

Let’s not get confused. I love my child, I love my life with my child, and if giving up all of my dreams is what I need to do in order to be with my child, I will. But I won’t be happy about it. I spend a lot of time playing with my daughter, reading to her, putting her to bed, and I love it all. But I also want to have hobbies and interests. I want to continue to grow and learn and experience. And I want that selfishly maybe. I am not afraid to admit that.

I love what I have in life, but I also want more. I feel like it is time for more.

All of this stuff was taking up a lot of my headspace last year right around this time, and it is why I landed in the hospital and ultimately with ECT. At the time I knew some of the underpinnings of it. I knew I wanted more success, more visibility professionally. I knew I was concerned about leaving the career path I had planned and studied for. But up until very recently I was not able to understand this aspect of it.

I don’t think I would allow myself to admit that the identity of ‘father’ felt restrictive to me. I wanted to be ‘father and…’ instead.

Of course, this is not the only singular identity I carry that I find restrictive. A lot of you reading this have never met me, and many more have not spoken to me in a decade. To all of you I am probably mainly a ‘mental health blogger’. The night of drinking I mentioned earlier was a result of feeling the pressure of being pressed into this pigeonhole. And again, I like this identity. Again I created it for myself; I planned it out and worked my way into by choice. But I still feel limited by it.

I do not ever want to feel like I am only one thing. I know I am more than that.