If your idea of normal is someone who is really smart, funny, bilingual, alcoholic, bipolar and a great dancer, then you’ve come to the right person! I’ve always been the life of the party, fun-loving and I cry a lot. Doesn’t everybody?
There were two specific times when I realized that I was different from everyone else I knew. One, and this is really my parents’ fault and not mine because they framed this picture, was when I took a close look at my baptism picture. What was I thinking?? “Dear God, PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME WITH THIS FAMILY” Or more to the point, who would frame this photo and put it on the piano for years?
Okay, so I was an unusual 3 month old.
The second time was around 1986 or so. At the time, I worked for a non-profit agency as a case manager and shared my office with another case manager. We were friends. Our desks were on adjacent walls, so when we turned to look at each other, we could see the bulletin boards above each other’s desks.
One day, a terrible thing happened. She rearranged the items pinned to her board. I got mad at her. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Why did you do that?
Her: Do what?
Me: Change your bulletin board?
Her: What? What’s wrong with you?
Me: You ruined my left-right thing.
Her (in astonishment): What’s your left-right thing?
*sigh* So I explained that while I’m doing one thing, I make patterns in my head based on items that I could see in the room (any room). I asked her what she called it. What did she call what she did when she was doing something else.
She looked at me completely blankly. I began to feel uncomfortable. She said she never did something else while doing one thing. I assumed she didn’t understand me.
Okay, let me give you an example. On her board, she had 4 note cards, index cards or memos on the left side of her board. On the right, she had 5. In the middle she had 1. So I could make a pattern in my head and go back and forth from left to right repeating the pattern in my head, counting by twos.
This sounds very weird now that I’m explaining it in writing.
So when she changed up her bulletin board, I got mad.
She was flabbergasted. I asked her so what do you do when you’re just sitting there then? When we are done with work but we can’t leave for 2 more minutes? She said, nothing.
That’s insane. No one does nothing unless they’re in a coma.
I gave her another example. I can automatically name the finger exercises I played on the piano when I was 5 years old. I run those through my head frequently, I told her. Sometimes while doing my left-right thing, but always when I’m falling asleep.
Sometimes I would tap it out with my fingers while saying the numbers in my head.
I’m not making this up. I thought everybody did something similar. But called it by a different name.
Even though I’m the most outgoing person you’ve ever met and I don’t have a shy cell in my body, I was frequently depressed and tired. About this time I realized that drinking wasn’t helping anything, so I stopped being an active alcoholic and started being a recovering alcoholic.
To make a long story as short as it is possible for talkative me to make any story short, my primary care physician prescribed anti-depressants. After years of changing prescriptions and doses, a traumatic, tipping-point event occurred in my life and I felt I couldn’t function and cried
all the time a lot.
I went back to see the doctor and she said I needed a specialist and gave me the name of a psychiatric nurse practitioner. And, for the first time in my life, I got the correct diagnosis.
I am Bipolar II. And on the correct medication now. I don’t cry often, although the Budweiser commercials during the Super Bowl get me every time. I don’t need 12 hours sleep and still wake up tired. I wake up after 6-8 hours of sleep and go to work and take care of myself and my family.
My mind doesn’t race anymore. MY MIND DOESN’T RACE ANYMORE!
Who knew? I have no idea what your mind does, and my mind still zooms around more than yours does, probably. My life, like yours, has ups and downs. But I no longer do my left-right thing.
I feel like part of me is missing.