Zero to Pissed in 2.4 Seconds – ‘Appropriate’ Reaction or Bipolar BS

Happy & Sad
Happy & Sad (Photo credit: Swamibu)


Shit happens.


And, as a result of my Bipolar Disorder, every time shit goes down and I have to suddenly engage, I am always petrified when it’s all over.  I took action to correct a bad situation, but was my judgement sound?  Did I do the right thing?  Did I over react?  Did my Bipolar Disorder skew my perception of reality in the first place and cause me to react in an irrational manner?  Am I going to get into trouble? 


It’s a well-known litany that plays over and over and over in my mind.  Whenever shit goes down.


Today’s example:  I watched two kids stop their bicycles, dismount, choose the perfect rock and hurl it as the swan who was sitting in the pond outside my living room window.  I went into overdrive.  I went on to the deck.  I yelled at the kids and told them to stop.   What followed was an exchange not about them stopping their asinine behavior, but the fact I wasn’t speaking Dutch.  Smarmy, pre-pubescent idiots.


The swan flew away and the kids left without further incident.


I came inside and then the warped machinations of the Bipolar mind took over.  Oh, God.  Did I make the right call?  I can’t abide cruelty to animals in any form, so…yes?  I just knew that any second there was going to be a parent on my doorstep, screaming at me, in the language of the hairball, some sort of insults about yelling at their kids that I wouldn’t be able to understand.  It would escalate.  Perhaps there would be some anti-American sentiments thrown in after I explained my language barrier.  The whole encounter would have to end with me slamming the door.


See what I mean?


Of course, none of the above happened – no one came to my door.  But the fact remains that I am forever questioning my judgement about – well, about pretty much everything that happens involving heightened emotions.  Because, if I’m going from zero to pissed in 2.4 seconds over something that doesn’t really warrant it, then it’s time to evaluate whether or not the mania train is trying to pull into the station.


I think just about everyone who has had at least one hypomanic episode understands what I am talking about.  Have your judgement compromised once by the illness, and it haunts you forever.  Yeah, we can tell ourselves over and over and over – just the way our therapists taught us to! – that it is the illness putting these thoughts into our heads.  That when we are in a remission we need to be gentler with ourselves and trust our non-manic / non-depressed judgement.  Yeah, OK.  Well, if you’ve never spent a month of your life not going to work but instead decided to drive around to every store that sells iPhone covers because you believe you need one embellished with Swarovski crystals…


I rest my case.


And, for the record, I stand by my actions today.  If my yelling, “Knock it off!” at some brats kept a swan from being pelted with a rock, then the crazy train isn’t pulling into Manic Station.  Just yet 🙂


I have 3 dogs, 3 cats and bipolar I. I live in a small town on a street with 7 other neighbors. I was outside with several of my animals and a car careens around the corner speeding past my house, I screamed F*****G SLOW DOWN!!!! It was so loud I startled myself. children stopped playing, the adults stared, I collected my pets and went into the house. Was that a manic moment? Yes. Do my neighbors think I’m crazy? Maybe. I lived with these questions and my answers for days. I’ve convinced myself that it doesn’t matter, I was performing a public service manic or not someone had to do it.

Hi, Gale. Yup – my husband and I have both done that, and he’s not even Bipolar! Maybe it’s part of the illness, that we are haunted by the confrontation for days afterwards. Makes getting back out there pretty awkward, doesn’t it? Even when we feel we did the right thing.

It’s not always mania that causes us to lose our temper. People without mental illness go off on others for one reason or another all the time. My therapist keeps telling me that I need to recognize that some of my emotional reactions are human reactions not necessarily bipolar reactions. I think you had a human reaction to a cruel situation. I’m glad you stood up for the swan. I hope it comes back to visit you. 🙂

Hi, Monday. Thanks! You’re right. It’s just so ingrained in my character at this point to figure out if I need to apologize to anyone after a highly emotional moment, big or small. So far, the swan hasn’t come back. But the pond is frozen with snow on top, so it would make for a messy landing anyway 🙂

I agree/empathize with everything written so far. I know I feel completely out of control when that anger vomits out. Holy crap! Where did *that* come from? In my younger days, I used to be so *careful* not to offend or hurt anyone’s feelings. That’s before I was diagnosed, and had non-existant boundaries. Now, I let it fly if someone pushes me too far. In a way, it’s sorta nice to be able to do that now.

Yeah, you’re right. I’ve never really thought of it that way before. Being able to draw boundaries is so important. Being able to stand up when they’re crossed is an art. I’m still working on that 🙂

I totally relate to the issue of examining every one of my intense reactions with the fear that it might have been a “manic moment.” But in your case I am reminded of the time when I was in Israel and saw some kids dressed in religious garb, tormenting a cat. I went nuts, screaming in VERY broken Hebrew that it is a sin to oppress animals, and fumbling for the exact name of the sin, while they stood there open mouthed staring at the crazy woman screaming unintelligible babble in their direction. They went away and left the poor cat alone, though, so it worked out in the end. The point of my rambling here is that I don’t think it matters whether your righteous anger is fired a little hotter by your bipolar flames. If a life is in danger, you do what you can to save it, even if that means “going postal” on the perpetrators, short of physical contact of course. Sometimes our volatility is an asset.

Sooo well said – thank you sooo much. There were a few family members growing up that liked to belittle me for having an outburst rather than focus on the fact I was completely justified in feeling slighted. That was frustrating and hard to deal with.

Thanks for sharing your cat saving adventure. It’s fun trying to right a wrong using a language that’s not really your own. Thank goodness yelling and finger pointing are pretty much universally understood 🙂

I have totally done that, but with kids cutting across my yard… “Stay offa my lawn!” And then stewed and raged for hours. The initial burst of temper, that’s probably pretty normal. Having something like that fester and get you all worked up for most of the day – that’s probably not normal, whether or not it has anything to do with mania.

At least, that’s my best guess…

All while briskly moving thru life dancing with a stumbling image of my ‘self’ who will indemnify the blame as an overflow of discordant convictions. But when i stop to take a look into the facets that pour forth the images of what the worlds mirrors have been adjusted to for all of us… i can see the forces that make each one of us beings up into a self. Shallow & deep puddles will rush in to permeate and flush away insecurities & perils- but to dawdle in what is a washed away typical playground & to be bullied into declining what truly is your own experience is trickery of experience. There are no means to prove that we each were not meant to have differing experiences here inside of life. Every dance with each new song- I often find it is the same tune. Fading in & out of the stage lights… My self worth back into the doubts & dead ends. A war a struggle to tear at my remembering that unwavering sight into my heart that only sings true. They cannot take away what is yours. They can construct a stage and curtain that is uniform to the theory of how to cattle cows.


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