I was driving home from a race today and it occurred to me that if you’re, y’know, a normal – sorry to be offensive like – but, if you are a normal then maybe that means you’ve not experienced the high.
The downside of mental health conditions is oft talked about. You know – the Eeyore stuff? The darkness. The bleak. The void. The hurt. And it occurred to me that maybe I should let you in on a secret, a secret about BPD (well, I think it’s a BPD thing whilst not being limited to BPD…I’m stalling…). It’s quite a marvellous thing really. Are you ready?
I am magical.
Oh dear. Has your heartbeat quickened in panic? Good grief she thinks she’s a Gryffindor, should we call someone?! Calm down there toots. Take it easy, I’ll explain. Right obviously I am not actually magic. Boo. However, I do get to feel magical and it comes with all of that BPD intensity and it feels GREAT! Do you get that, or is that just us?
I call these an up. I owe my success to ups (not the delivery people, gawd this is going to read weird). Obviously when I’m in the dark the ‘doing of the stuff’ gets pretty hard but I’ve achieved a fair bit. How come? Well, there’s stability for a start, and I’m sure there have been points where I’ve been fairly stable and doing stuff. Other than stability though there are the ups. In an up I feel so powerful. I can ACHIEVE ANYTHING. You give me a problem? I’ll fix it and smile and take it in my stride. My ups are where my ideas come from: boom! Zap! Everything is so obvious! Shy? No! Not me, I’ll initiate conversation, I’ll have bold ideas about social events. I can do so much which is pretty handy because I can catch up on all the neglected stuff. Easily. Why did it seem so impossible before? Nothing is impossible now. Nothing. Ha!
This is where I do stupid stuff like sign up for marathons (because I can do anything, right?) so it helps drive me forward, it’s likely it’ll be in an up that my goals will appear, so obvious. Everything is so obvious. When I watched Bradley Cooper in Limitless I thought yes! that’s what an up feels like. I mean, sadly it doesn’t bring the amazing abilities he had in the film but it’s a decent enough illustration.
And I feel magical. My body feels lighter. I feel like I can fly, I know I can’t fly (hence borderline and not psychotic) but oh, I feel like I could!
I’m fun too. I can chat away. The conversation that I can find so difficult just flows. I have so much to say! When teaching I would sing and dance around the classroom or down the corridors, positivity bursting out of me. I feel special, like I know what I’m experiencing is special, that others don’t get to feel it and that adds to the feeling that I possess some unique power. Like, I’m pretty sure I could sort out this whole Brexit situation in an up without too much trouble.
It can be hard to concentrate though, when there are so many ideas needing my attention RIGHT NOW so I leave a trail of not-quite-finished projects. I often feel that I need to buy things for each of these epiphanies which leads to useless impulse spending (although I’m much better with that now). As I’ve aged I’ve recognised that these periods are short lived. It may be an hour, it may be two weeks but it will end and, when it does, it will be like being smacked with concrete.
The end of an up comes in all sorts of ways. Sometimes it just dissolves, like a PowerPoint slide transition, you know the one where the current slide (radiant positivity) pixilates out and the new slide (utter darkness) pixilates in. That’s dissolving. And it’s gone.
Alternatively there’s the panic express method. Choo choo! Feeling like I can fly I start to wonder should I…? I mean, what if I can? I find myself pausing at the tops of stairs, wondering… and it passes and then I’m scared. Oh fuck. What am I thinking? I’m getting ill again. I’m going to lose everything. I can’t go back there. The thoughts come and the panic and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the panic express out of an up.
Or, I just plain wear out. World domination is tiring. I find falling asleep hard when I have so many incredible ideas running through my brain and that just adds to the exhaustion. The up just stops. I wake up and it’s gone. It was like a dream. That wasn’t me. I wake up exhausted at all the loose ends that I need to tie up. I don’t know how. Impossible surely? I feel embarrassed facing people, like that post-office-night-out-hangover. That’s what it feels like.
But, back to my thought in car, do normals get to experience that high, like I do? That invincibility? That magic? When I read of runners high I sort of think that’s quite similar perhaps? That sense of flying, of power? Runners high is amazing. I get it and thinking of it made me feel a bit of sympathy for the mentally well. It’s mad, I know, but if you don’t get those highs? I can’t imagine that. Yes, the highs go too far. It’s always extremes with BPD but, every so often, it becomes extremely good and that is very special.