They say it can be beneficial to name the things in our heads that torment us; that to give them a name separates them from the true self and better allows us to tackle them. I have found this to be true.
Since I can remember there have always existed in me two very different people. Now I know what you’re thinking… everyone has a good and bad side don’t they? A darkness and a light? While this is true to an extent, for me it has always been more than that.
It was only when I was given my diagnosis that I started to finally understand why it is that I’ve felt and been the way I have my whole life. Bipolar Disorder is a complicated beast (and even that is an understatement). It can be difficult to recognize, and even more so to understand. It is often mistaken for something else at first and can take years to properly uncover. I was first diagnosed, as a child, with depression and anxiety. Indeed, those were my main and obvious symptoms. It was only later in my life, when I sought appropriate help in the form of a psychiatrist and clinical psychologist, that I slowly began to unravel what was inside me.
My depression’s name is Doug, and we have known each other a long time. Doug is all encompassing. When he is present he saturates my life, drowning me, and he is a fantastic liar. He tells me that I am a failure, unlovable and incapable. He makes me feel hopeless, guilty and, at the worst of times, like I am better off dead. When he is in my head every critical or unkind word that is said to me is magnified and pierces my mind and heart like glass. Doug brings with him panic and anxiety, and a helplessness that paralyses me.
My hypomanic self is called Maleficent, and I’ve spent considerably less time with her. She is a real sorceress. Confident, seductive and fun she utterly bewitches me, but can turn a corner and be a real bitch too. She is just as malicious as Doug because she often starts out as something good. Don’t get me wrong, she is usually a welcome relief. When she is in control I am motivated, passionate and tireless. I’m creative and inspired and unstoppable. However, if not channelled appropriately she can become a destructive force to be reckoned with. She can turn irritable, angry and vicious. She is the ultimate typhoon of emotion and if I’m not careful I am swept away completely.
It saddens me to admit that there haven’t been many prolonged times of stability in my life. Suffice to say I feel like I don’t really know who I am without my seemingly constant companions. I hope a day comes when I am able to think of both Maleficent and Doug as old friends, who don’t visit as often anymore. A day when I am just me.