Bipolar is My Boyfriend
Bipolar is My Boyfriend
A Weekly Column by Kala Wahl
My favorite kind of person is one that does what I say. That’s the kind of thing I look for in a boyfriend, but it’s hard to find. For instance, I wanted a boyfriend once in high school for about an hour, like how some girls want little dogs to carry around in their purses. I figured maybe I could put him on a leash and drag him around everywhere. However, I was sixteen-years-old and kind-of-sort-of dating a sophomore who got expelled for spraying the band room with a fire extinguisher. Thousands of dollars in damage or something, and he had a mustache; he was bad, on the fringe—all crinkly like his little facial hair—and I was into it. But he wasn’t the type to go on a leash. He’d conveniently forget his wallet when we’d eat out at McDonald’s or somewhere else really nice, and he’d unhook my bra through my shirt in the middle of The Avengers at our local movie theater. He always wanted to go into Victoria’s Secret whenever we were at the mall, like he needed to buy ten for ten dollar panties or something. He’d tell people we made-out underneath the bleachers, “real sloppy-like,” when we didn’t. He also apparently had a girlfriend the entire time.
Point is: he didn’t do what I said. He never did. And they never do. Which is fine by me because I don’t need a stinky boyfriend, anyways. Or so I thought. I may not have ended up with Mr. Mustache and had his wonderful delinquent kids, but I ended up with someone else. We’re long term, whether I like it or not. It definitely isn’t the path my mother would have chosen for me, or any licensed medical psychiatrist, at that. Because nobody really likes him, but I’m at least trying to learn to be okay with him.
I’m twenty-two-years old and I have bipolar disorder. It’s severe and it consumes most of my life. I’m what the medical community refers to as rapid-cycling, meaning my moods shift by the hour unless medicated. I go to school, but I have trouble doing so. I have friends, but it’s hard to maintain my relationships. And I function day-to-day, assuming I’ve been taking my meds, but even that’s an issue most of the time. My disorder requires my constant attention, and from others, it requires their constant understanding. I can’t always expect that from other people, though. I feel as if I’m genuinely dating my disorder. It’s a he, because most men suck, and he doesn’t listen to me, and he sure as hell doesn’t get me flowers or chocolates on Valentine’s Day.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder only two years ago, after a very long struggle with mental health that’s spanned a lifetime. While finally being able to put a name to it is a relief, it also means I have to start adapting to an entirely new lifestyle of heavy duty anti-psychotics, monthly psychiatry visits, constant lab testing, and of course, now having to carry around a label I’m supposed to be marking on job applications and informing new friends and potential suitors of. My treatment and the subsequent better, more normal life that’s to follow it can sometimes almost feel as bad as the unmedicated disorder. It’s a lot; it’s overwhelming.
Bipolar is chronic. I can’t shake it. That’s what having a mental disorder can feel like—a bad relationship that you can’t shake. And in my case, I actually can’t shake it. Ever. Medicated or not, I will always have bipolar disorder. I can dumb it down with medication and lessen my symptoms, but I can’t get rid of it. My hair falls out in clumps because of my medication, and on my highest dose, I have a tendency to tune out of conversations and start drooling at random. My mom says it just gives me character, and that I’m more emotionally in-sync with the world than others. Like a gift or something. And I like that because I like being better than other people, even if I’m bald and drooling.
I experience the world differently than others, but at the end of the day, I know that’s not necessarily a bad thing. That’s something I’m trying to accept. I’m learning to be okay with my bipolar being a part of me. I don’t think I’d change my bipolar for anything; it’s made me me, or something else corny like that. There is no cure and I don’t think there ever will be a cure. And that’s fine, because I don’t even know what a cure would like. I don’t even know if I would like myself cured. My bipolar and I are codependent. As much as I’d like to break up with him sometimes, I can’t.
I’m going to say things in this column that will probably embarrass my mom and others around me and cost me lots of job opportunities, but fortunately for you, I’m pretty shameless. You’ll hear about manic sex, drug abuse, Yoga classes and everything in between—and that’s a lot in between. You’re about to have so much dirt on me and my boyfriend. The metaphorical one. Maybe the real one too. We’ll see what comes out.