Bipolar moods come on quickly, and follow their own course--two bipolar situations.
10. Waves of Moods
I’m generally a good natured sort, and consequently don’t go looking for a fight. If there’s a problem I’m most likely to bite my lip, or turn the other cheek. I keep a lot of my frustration pent up inside, because I don’t have a good release. If something is bothering me, I’ll let it eat away at me and not voice my concern. Then when I can’t stand it anymore, I blow, usually not expected by those around me. This is just part of my daily life. This is something I've become aware of about myself, but it's not anything I think I can change. This coping strategy is probably related to my diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and I admit it doesn't work well.
I’d been working as a vet tech in an animal clinic for almost a year. I wasn’t good at arriving before 7:00 am, and one day about 7:07 am one of my coworkers decided to call me on it. Yes, I acknowledged that I have a tendency to be a few minutes late, but it wasn’t her place to call me on it—especially that particular day. I more than lost it. Everything she’d ever done wrong can rushing through my brain and out of my mouth, in fast order..
“I may be late, but I work when I’m here. You use every excuse you can think of to get out of doing work. If you are allergic to animal hair, perhaps you should have picked another place to work. You have no “free pass” to excuse you from sweeping and dusting.” I was screaming and flailing my arms. I was out of control, and my adrenalin was pumping into the situation. This was a primal "fright or flight" situation, and I wasn't ready to leave yet.
No one had come in the clinic as we argued, and we should have been busy mopping and giving the dogs their morning constitutional. Work wasn’t getting done, and by-the-way I had just decided I could do without working with Sarah. It was an immediate decision, like a bolt of lightening.
I took my vet office key off my key ring, laid the key on the vet’s chair, and stormed out of the front door, my heart pumping hard in my head and tears flowing down my cheeks. Sarah had quit defending herself verbally, and she obviously didn’t understand my anger. I remember her just standing there, mouth and eyes wide open. She'd never seen me be anything but nice.
She’d been an irritating irresponsible co-employee who had been grating on my nerves for seven months. I never said anything until I blew. I never knew what Sarah said to the doctor, but I was cordially invited back to work before the end of the day. Sarah didn't have a job there anymore. The doctor knew our work habits, but nobody at work knew I was bipolar either.
I know I let things build up too much before I vent. Sometimes I don’t have time, and the venting often automatic. I don’t always have a filter of common sense to get in-between me and my actions. One wouldn't think a person could get so upset over a little grocery store errand.
I walked out of the grocery store in tears. My mood right before was anger and righteous indignation. I was mad at myself for getting upset, and loosing my cool in the checkout line. I was angry at the cashier for getting contentious with me. However, I knew I was right, and the grocery store employee was trying to outsmart me. That’s what made me freaking fighting mad.
I always cruise the day-old bakery and discounted meat sections because my refrigerator doesn’t hold much. I’m using a mini-refrigerator while my kitchen is in flux, so I don’t buy a lot of food to keep around. I’ve discovered my grocery store often reduces good cuts of meat, and they also offer buy one get one free. I’d picked out a petit steak and a package of pork chops.
I brought the meat packages to "buy one get one", and brought it to the cashier's attention to the cashier’s attention. He said my choice had to be two of the same type of package. I couldn’t get cow and pig. I could have two chops, or I could have two steaks, but he wouldn’t honor the sticker than said “Buy one get one free,., though the labeling was identical.
“It’s not right for you to advertise ‘free” and charge $7.99 at the check out. I’ve used this special before with two kinds of meat. Your stickers don’t say "same style package" anywhere. This isn’t right, and you can keep your pork chops. I’ll just take the petit steak, with the $2.00 coupon subtracted. Your butcher has a lot of meat to move in the reduced section, and you can add those pork chops to it.’
The cashier wasn’t wanting to give in, saying now, “the cash register won’t allow me to do a transaction like that."
My mouth was still going, and I was bound to have the last word. I’d embarrassed myself in line being “one of those people” who holds up the line and makes problems. I suppose I got loud too. I was so upset that the tears were starting to well up. I was over spilling with all sorts of emotions, and I just wannted to turn them off and walk away.
“Okay ma’am, I’ll ring it up as free.”
I felt like I’d won the war but lost a personal battle somehow. And I was embarrassed. Everybody wasn’t looking at me, but with three rows waiting I figured they had been within the last few minutes..
I was the woman making trouble in line over prices. But, damn, there’s a big difference between $8.00 and free, at some cashier’s discretion. Moreover, there’s right and wrong, and the checker wasn’t following the protocol for reduced meat with which I was familiar. He tried to explain the difference between pork and steak, which only made me madder. Buy one get one means just that. He finally condescended. I did have some kind of audience--for my persistence if nothing else. I wasn't proud playing center stage in this check out line production
I thanked the cashier quietly, saying he did what he should have done in the first place I put my groceries and my melodrama into the cart, and rolled across the bumpy parking lot to the back of my truck, unloaded my bags into the bed of the truck, and drove home through the last few remaining streams of tears.
That’s how bipolar emotions keep you a bit less stable than the average person. Luckily, it can leave as abruptly as it arrived, or not. Once I got my cry out I was relatively okay for the rest of the day. I hadn’t planned a bipolar episode that day. I never do, but sometimes I can tell I’m in an emotionally fragile state, and I try to stay home so as not to deal with other people who could easily set me off, without realizing I’m stuck with menopause emotions for life.
This doesn't mean I have that disorder where you don't want to get out of the house for the anxiety and problems to be dealt with on a personal basis. Agoraphobia they call it. Or does it?