BringChange2Mind

December 21, 2010

Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself

Filed under: Uncategorized — Marc Peters @ 9:00 am

The title of this blog post has a dual meaning, the most obvious of which is that I haven’t blogged in a while. (So, hello BC2M family!) The less obvious meaning is something that has been bouncing around my head as I reflect on my first semester of grad school. For me, one of the most frustrating things about managing bipolar disorder is meeting people when I am manic or depressed. As soon as I get lifted out of the depression or come crashing down from the mania, I want a do-over. I want a second chance to make a first impression. Sadly, we aren’t really afforded those. I can hardly ever bring myself to explain away my bipolar disorder and its ramifications because it’s not as though I’m ashamed of it. As a result, I find myself embracing and owning whatever impression people got from whatever face I am putting forward that day.

Depressed Face

When I’m depressed, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to engage with people. My first instinct is to retreat. I surround myself with close friends (if I’m even able to muster up the motivation to do that) and nurse my wounds. I have always found depression inherently selfish in nature. By that I don’t mean that I am selfish for “allowing myself to be depressed”. I mean that I get totally wrapped up inside my head. I am totally absorbed in my own world. It is hard to see past the immediate pain that I feel and it is next to impossible to care for anything beyond myself. The trouble being that I’m not that type of person generally speaking. I’m caring and empathetic. If anything, I’m too other-focused. When someone’s first impression of me is the depressed version, it is as if I’m giving them a false sense of who I am.

Manic Face

It’s no better for me to meet someone when I’m manic. One of the hardest things, as a person that prefers being in control, to accept about living with bipolar disorder is that there will be times when I make irrational decisions. There are other ramifications too. I get irritable pretty easily when I’m manic so it’s hard to give off my typical patient vibe. I also have a tendency to be more inappropriate in my humor and more forward in my flirting. (All this to say that my manic episodes are usually unmitigated disasters). I had a manic episode during graduate school orientation back in August. That meant that the students in my cohort got the image of me as a fast-talking, unfocused, out-of-control person. That’s the last impression I want to make much less the ideal first one.

Normally I like to offer a piece of advice in these blog posts or an uplifting final paragraph. However, in the case of this blog I just wanted to share with you something with which I am still struggling. So I put it to you: For those of you living with a mental health disorder, what do you find frustrating? For friends and family, what do you find hard about being supportive or what challenges have you found yourself facing?

Take good care,

Marc

PS. Since it is BC2M’s ‘Thankful Tuesday’, I wanted to let you know how thankful I am to have all of you in my life!

Advertisements

3 Comments »

  1. This really depends on the situation we’re in. My husband doesn’t always make bad impressions, but when he does it’s sometimes hard to know how to deal with it.If I know we are going to meet someone new I try to prepare him and myself in advance. Sometimes that’s not possible. In those situations I have to play it by ear. By that, I mean I jump in and tend to take over the conversation. This means I’m often thought of as rude or pushy, but that’s okay. I’ve learned to let that roll off my back. I also find that trying to explain isn’t of help most of the time. Bottom line is, people are entitled to their opinion and It’s really not my business what they think of me 🙂 If I can, I use any bad situations to educate those who are willing to hear. If I can’t, then I just look forward to meeting the next person who will.

    Comment by Angy — December 21, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

  2. Greetings Marc – Thank you for sharing. I feel your pain, my man. Your description of your depressed/manic faces nail it. When I’m cycling, I try to be aware of the obstacles(high/low) and take measures to avoid our past pitfalls. Example being – When I’m depressed or manic, I understand the nature of my depression(isolate,lack of communication) and mania(brainstorming,lack of patience, low needs to eat and sleep). So therefore I try to view myself from the outside in. Being consciously aware of my moods,behavior helps me identify what needs to be worked on that particular day. Good luck – GM

    Comment by Gregory Montgomery — December 21, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

  3. When I’m in a depressive episode I also just don’t really care about anyone else so I make awful first impressions by talking about myself a lot or just sitting there and bringing the mood down. I always get frustrated with this because that’s not who I am at all. I’m a super empathetic person and I am normally concerned with other people and what they have to say. Like you said, it’s kind of weird because they are not really meeting me. Now that I think about it I haven’t been me for about 3 years now. Finally my therapist and I have found the right anti-depressants and I actually feel like me and I realize that I was lying to all those people I have met over the 3 years, maybe even longer. So I guess what I’m saying is that I can relate and it sucks but we get through it because the people that are worthy of our friendship stick around and give us that chance to make a second impression.

    Oh and another thing that frustrates me is trying to make friends with scars on my arms from cutting. I’ve accepted that fact that they are going to be there and that’s alright with me but people are so ignorant about self-harm sometimes that I just want to slap them. I was depressed and I went through a rough patch, I’m not a freak, no I’m not emo, and I didn’t do it for the attention.

    Comment by Jo — December 21, 2010 @ 9:53 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: