“Tribe” by Paisley Byrd

by Paisley Bryd

I am hypomanic. A pleasant pink buzz effervesces through my brain. The bubbles float up and burst into glimpses of brilliance. Anything you say makes me happy, and music I heard with you is more than music. Foucault makes sense and Jill Stein should be president.

The DSM psychiatric model of mania says that one is likely to fall prey to urge behaviors such as spending money or sleeping around.  Also, getting sleep is difficult, and the more sleep one loses the more manic one becomes. One becomes irritable and may do irreparable damage to primary relationships. One has endless energy and may talk fast and fidget uncontrollably. Mania leads to a crash which is dangerous and could end in suicide. Hypomania is a less intense version of this, but leads to mania and suicide if not stopped.

So I assess my situation. I’m leaning back in the chair watching The French Connection, checking Facebook, writing.  In the movie, the seventies scenes of New York remind me of when I lived near there, the smells of burned horse chestnuts, snow in the air and whatever it is that comes up from subway grates. One day I caught my high heels in a subway grate. My basset barks me back to Ohio.

Yep, this feels pretty dangerous. Never been full-blown manic, but it’s in the DSM: Hypomania leads to mania, mania leads to crash, crash leads to suicide. The house that Jack built.

From here, I will get irritable. Then I go back to baseline. My actual suicide states are preceded by months of anxiety, voices in my head and a hundred other symptoms not in the DSM like narrowing of vision and cravings for sweets. The doctors don’t listen to me when I tell them it’s coming, but they worry intensely about my hypomanic episodes. Are you sleeping? How many hours did you sleep last night? Have you made any large expenditures? Have you been arrested?

I don’t fit in the DSM. I don’t know anyone who does. I used to fit under categories that no longer exist: homosexuality, for example. My transgender husband evidently had gender dysphoria for a while when that was a diagnosis. In addition to my current diagnosis of bipolar 2, I have been diagnosed as having bipolar 1, bipolar-rapid cycling, schizo-affective disorder, PTSD, OCD, paranoia, psychosis, major depressive disorder, dysthemia, and seasonal affective disorder. They don’t know.

So I nod, yes I’m sleeping well, a little irritable, no large purchases, yes I need refills on my lithium. But when I cry for help, they up my downers.

At my dad’s house, his girlfriend asks me if I’ve tried exorcism.

They don’t know. They know all about me. From books. Where are you, my tribe, who truly know about this? I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills whence cometh my help. Come, tribe. Help.

If you find Paisley’s writing as fascinating as we do, you can check out her blog here! 

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