Archive for the ‘relationships’ Tag

Elephant Mind Syndrome   Leave a comment

I’m recently single again after a broken engagement.  It would have been my second marriage, but it didn’t feel right.   This time I knew enough to dial it back before the Rabbi told me to break another glass.   I hadn’t really thought about what it meant to be single again, until I had my first weekend alone.  Unlike before, I was not ramping up with the dating sites and connecting them to my cell phone so I didn’t miss a possible connection.  I had practically hooked my phone to my belt last time, which is something I swore I would never do, along with wearing Dockers.

This time I am not motivated to go online.  I know if I do I’ll be crazed with generating activity and I just don’t feel like one more thing with which to be obsessed.  I decided to just meet girls the old-fashioned way; Screaming at them out of my car window waiving a six-pack of Bud and inviting them up to my place to get loaded.  I shouldn’t joke, maybe that does work.   It did in high school.

Actually, the old-fashioned way is just meeting girls through normal everyday interactions and where I socialize.  And I do see lots of women through the course of my work and in the neighborhood bars and coffee shops I frequent.  Usually I would balk at this method.  Just walking up to a woman and introducing myself was out of the question.  I had the self-confidence of a paraplegic dwarf with a twin growing out of the right side of my face, and all you can see are teeth and lips.

A good part of this was due to my Bipolar Disorder.  Having a mental disorder is always in the back of my mind.  It’s not so much that I think women can tell, it’s just that eventually if I met one sooner or later I’d have to drop the B-bomb.   Once I had a date who laid down the ground rules before I could even open the hatch under the plane.  She said she was fine with anything except guys who didn’t have jobs or had mental illnesses.   This is the kind of thing your therapist says will never happen in the real world.  Nobody would be so brazen to say such a thing.

I also recall all the things that embarrassed me throughout my Bipolar life and somehow thought every girl I spoke with automatically knows everything in my screwed up head.  I call this Elephant Mind Syndrome.  Like how as a kid I was made fun of constantly because I was horrible at sports.  Or, for years how my mom made me swim with a bathing cap so my ear plugs would not fall out.  I spent summers being relentlessly teased about being a topless girl.  Then there were my suicide attempts and stays in the psyche ward.

If I did meet someone and got past all that and was still trying to hang in there with a rap, I’d start ruminating on my medication’s side effects.  If my mouth was dry I wondered if I lisped like a deaf person.  I also worried if I had some crusted food or beverage in the corners of my mouth from the dryness.  Or, I wondered if she noticed my eyes shift slightly back and forth because of my nystagmus.  Coupled with the speech impediment and I thought the girl was ready to tell me “how wonderful it is that I am on my own and whether I lived in special needs housing or with my parents.?” Worst of all, I was afraid if I bought her a drink my shaky hands would dump it all over the bar.  I couldn’t tell if I was killing the relationship in my mind or these things were actually happening.   Eventually the pressure was too much and I’d go home to watch Lock-Up.  Cell extractions are so uplifting.

And what if by some miracle I found a girl who actually liked me?  Moreover, there was a possibility we might be getting intimate that evening?  First I’d  have to figure out what’s wrong with her.  I once brought a homeless woman to my apartment because she was wearing a business suit.  I had no idea that was all she owned.   So if I vetted her as normal,  I then had to worry about whether I’d be able to perform because of the meds I take.  Also, there’s the whole dilemma of how long can I put off taking my night-time medication which usually makes me very tired and useless as a bedfellow.

My point? When you are Bipolar, nothing is simple.  There is no such thing as going with the flow.  No matter what turn your life takes, there are a series of related anxieties.  And I recently realized if I let those Bipolar driven fears consume me, the only women I am going to meet are the nurses in the emergency room pumping my stomach.

I know a lot of Bipolar guys and girls reading this blog have had similar feelings attached to meeting the opposite sex.  Tired of losing the demolition derby before I even strap myself onto a bar stool, I will share my new approach to meeting the opposite sex;  If you see a man or woman you’d like to meet, force yourself to go up and introduce yourself.  The worst thing they can do is say “I’m not interested.”  “I’m not interested” can mean a million different things that have nothing to do with you.  Maybe they are waiting for someone, they are attached, not staying long or you could not be their type.  But I doubt they can see your lifetime of embarrassment playing like a video loop in your eyeballs or think you are mentally retarded because you have dry-mouth.  And if you really aren’t their type, so what?  There are a lot of pretty people out there that are not your type for one reason or another.

The important thing is that if you really want to meet someone, keep trying.  Practice makes perfect.  Keep challenging your fear.  I actually just started practicing with some “trainers.”  “Trainers” are women or men you are not particularly interested in but you try to strike up conversations just for practice.  That way if you embarrass yourself or say the wrong thing, it doesn’t really matter.   Consider it a pre-season game.  It doesn’t count.

Have you ever walked down the street and saw a really ugly guy with a very attractive woman and wondered how that mismatch got made ?  It’s because of self-confidence.  The guy was probably persistent and refused to accept his shortcomings as a reason not to be a desirable human being.  People with Bipolar Disorder are lucky in a way because our shortcomings are on the inside.   And, they really aren’t shortcoming at all.  For many of us our disease has made us stronger.  So if you are Bipolar and looking for your soul mate, the only way someone can see all your issues is if you tell them.  And if and when you tell them is for you to decide.

Making the First Move   2 comments

One of the many things I am not an authority on are relationships.  I probably should watch more Dr. Phil and spend less time blogging.  Then I will have an answer for everything.

Actually, I have had so many failed relationships in my life, it pains me to say, but most of these ruined souffles have been my own fault.   Not because I was insensitive, cheated or put on a beer stained undershirt and slapped anyone around, but because it was a mismatch and I still got involved.

Before my marriage at 29, I never had the courage to approach the girl I really  found interesting and attractive.  I didn’t think I stood a chance.  I always felt like the ugliest guy in the room.  And I felt if a girl I really liked did go out with me, sooner or later we’d sleep together and she’d see my Zip-Lock Baggie with all the pills in my shaving kit and the gig would be up.  I was sure girls did not want to get involved with bipolar guys.  So I saved myself the embarrassment and always went for the second tier girls.  After all, I was a second or third tier guy.

Once I was talking to a low hanging piece of fruit I was trying to date and she told me straight out she won’t go with guys who live at home or have any kind of mental illness.   I was shocked she even thought about this in advance.  Now I was in the category with some 25 year old guy named Maynard whose mother probably still buys his underwear.

So I got involved with a woman who had an under-bite like a 1954 Buick.  And a women so overly impressed with herself that I basically became her butler.  And, one with a voice so shrill I suggested we take up silent meditation.  All because I didn’t think I could do any better.  I was bipolar.  Damaged goods.  At best I was an “open box” sale.  I was lucky to have someone at all.

I think we as bipolar sufferers tend to do this with relationships because we are embarrassed we take so many pills, or that we have spent time in a mental hospital or ward, or that our hands shake sometimes and we can’t even drink a glass of wine without our meds making us a little too relaxed.  It will suddenly be obvious we are different and the eye of our affection won’t want to deal with the baggage.

But we are not different.  Bipolars can be as attractive as anyone else in the population.  So we can not let our insecurities about an illness nobody can see cheat us out of meeting the people we’d really like to get to know.   Thankfully we do not have to wear green fluorescent placards across our chests like crossing guards warning little children to stay away.

In my opinion we ofter underestimate the object of our fancy.  If we can get the courage to approach them, we might find they would like to spend time with us.  And the first thing you say doesn’t have to be a disclaimer that you are bipolar and once flipped out and kicked a hole in the wall.  This is conversation for a later date.  And, you might be surprised how well he or she handles it.  It isn’t the dark ages anymore where you were labeled manic depressive and given a lobotomy as regular course of treatment, then spent the rest of your life walking around fascinated with parking meters.

I was married for 13 years.  The wonderful woman I finally summoned up the courage to approach did not care about me being bipolar.  As a matter of fact, she took an active interest in helping me manage it.  It was completely unexpected and I’m extremely grateful.  Unfortunately we did get divorced, but it was not due to bipolar issues.  I had found other creative ways to ruin my marriage.

Don’t let the self-consciousness of being bipolar be what is holding you back from getting the person you really want.  Remember, bipolar sufferers usually have lived more complicated and sometimes tragic lives with dramatic ups and downs a lot of other people can’t even begin to imagine.  If we can get through that, we can definitely go for the person we really want rather than settle for second or third best.  We have thicker skins.

It only took me 46 years to figure this one out.  If I had only paid more attention to Dr. Phil!  Did I mention he has an answer for everything?