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Beating the Bipolar Jinx   Leave a comment

I sat on the couch with a small mountain of fresh from the mailbox bills, late payment notices and parking fines heaped infront of me on the coffee table.  I dreaded opening them as they were chiseling away at my non-existent bank account.  Then I checked my email.  The bank was sending me an overdraft notice and a fine for not dental flossing regularly.  My heart was pounding out of my chest in pre-panic-attack-mode when I realized I wasn’t going to be bringing in any money for at least two more weeks.  I’d have to do another juggling act.  The stress was unbearable.

I decided to go across the street and get a cup of coffee in an effort to slow down my heart rate.  On my way over I stuck my head inside my apartment building parking garage to make sure my car wasn’t hooked up to a tow truck as I was late with my rent.  They sent out the tow truck the second your payment is overdue.  I think the towing company had a special agent just assigned to my car.  Thankfully there was just a sign on the windshield announcing a tow later that day.  Now on my way back I’d have to hide my car.

 “What else could possibly go wrong today?” I muttered to myself.  Then I stopped dead in my tracks.  I felt an electrical current race through my body from head to toe.  I had just jinxed myself.  Not only can’t you think that, but you dare not speak it.  I knew the power of the jinx.  I was done for.

As I cautiously continued on and crossed the street into the Starbucks parking lot, my cell phone rang an 800 number.  Foolishly I answered.  It could only be a bill collector with an 800 prefix.   It couldn’t be Publisher’s Clearing House.  They don’t call, just surprise you at your front door with an oversized check.   It was my car finance company asking why my payment was a month late.  I was flabbergasted.  I thought I was on time.   Now I would have to come up with two payments this month of squalor. I didn’t even ask the woman at the end of the line to check and see if it was a mistake.  Nothing ever worked out in my favor.

The jinx went way beyond decimating me financially.   In my case it also never let me have anything new stay that way.  Once, I finally found the exact black boots for which I had been yearning. I bought them and the first time out I tripped on a sewer grate and literally ripped a hole in the right boot’s toe.   Even the shoemaker said he had never seen that kind of wound, and he was a medic in the Vietnam War.  Then whenever I got a new car the jinx was alive and well.  Within a week I’d grind a wheel into the curb while parellel parking, the freshly shredded rim ruining the whole new car feeling of pride.  And when I moved into a new house, I noticed a stain on the wall.  After hours of careful rubbing with various solvents it became bigger and permanent.   You want more? I was wearing a brand new v-neck black sweater.  I walk into the living room and my dog randomly jumped up and with one swipe of her claw rips it right down the front instantly making a sweater vest.  Without a word I just slipped it off in disgust and tossed it in the trash.

I’ve actually spoken with other bipolar people and they have felt jinxed as well.  That same feeling I have where nothing ever seems like it can go right without a hitch.  However, I’ve come to the realization that believing in the jinx is closely related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from which many people with Bipolar Illness suffer, including myself.  We want new things to be perfect and can’t stand when they don’t go as planned in our lives.  That’s why we incessantly count things, only sit facing East, don’t step on cracks, etc.  We feel more in control.  We are obsessed with keeping new things in pristine condition. A “bad count” or ripping a brand new boot means we have lost control.  If you don’t have OCD, it feels like a big truck once drove by your house and the vibration made every cabinet, closet and drawer open, the contents spilled onto the floor, some broke and everything mixed together with the kitchen trash.  Then you had to put everything back where it belonged and spend the rest of your life going through rituals to make sure a big truck never drives by your house again.

But when you’re out in the world things happen.  And no matter with how much vigilance you try to keep your new i-Phone from getting scratched, keep that new silver bracelet from oxidizing or keep your new leather jacket out of the rain, “shit happens.”  Many bipolars think it is only happening to them.  That they alone are jinxed.   It seems all the things they try to keep looking new always meet with the “jinx wrecking-ball.”  “It just cannot be random.  There are too many instances.  The jinx becomes as real as a bad 1970’s Malter Matthau movie.

I felt this way too.  Until, I started looking around.  I began to notice everyone’s i-Phone has been dropped and scratched a few times.  And even the nicest homes have a stain or some imperfection.  Most commonly, half the cars on the road have mashed up at least one tire trying to parellel park.  And boots go on your feet.  Of course they are going to get dirty and meet up with an occasional hazard you are unable to negotiate.  So I began to realize, these things were out of my control.  But they were also not because of a jinx.   They happen to everyone.  If I was going to get hung up on every little imperfection, my OCD was going to win out.  The jinx would  be my reality.

I don’t think you are ever completely cured of OCD.  But I did realize the jinx is just a manifestation of it.  I’m not going to lie and say when I scratched the crystal on my best Swiss watch I didn’t have a mild mental meltdown.   However, I reminded myself this happens to everyone, and I’m not the only one with an imperfection in my ensemble.   I looked and saw all the people and cars surrounding me with their own imperfections.  Most cars I saw had a dent or a scrape.  And everyone had something funky going on with their hair, clothes or jewelry.    Nobody was lying in the street moaning about stains, scratches and tares.

So, I’m convinced the jinx is just a mindset.  There isn’t a little troll following me around waiting until things are going well and then he lobs a heart attack at me, makes the cleaners ruin my favorite shirt or snaps a mirror off my car.  I believe since the jinx lives within in our minds, we at least have the power to understand it’s not real and is actually a mutated form of OCD.  When you truly get your head around this, you can deal with the real issue, which is your OCD. Unless of course you think you got OCD because you were jinxed.  Then things get ugly.