lit match

Symptom of the Sickness #1: Paranoia

“I’m not crazy, just creative,” I would tell my friends. Or anyone who would listen. When I wanted to be seen as “normal” and for some reason I couldn’t shake the feeling like I wasn’t, I batted this one for the team. In other words, when I sensed I wasn’t fitting in, this was my defense.

But the crazy was spoken for. The paranoia part of the crazy came on, and it was real. Although I could install our own home security system all by myself (pretty innovative in some ways), getting that funny feeling that “they” (either the alarm company or the FBI) could hear my random verbal exclamations all day and all night, didn’t sit right with me. I had the assurance that the company was legit, and so it was. I also had…growing suspicions. And growing suspicions are one thing that differentiate the “crazy” from the “creative”.

Liken the imagination to a pile of wood that needs a spark to light into a flame. My mind was the wood, the thought that the FBI was tapping the phone lines was a spark, and the growing suspicions, the paranoia, was the flame growing into a wildfire. Lots of smoke signals should have alerted my family and friends. Like my rambling, long-winded dialogue, or just the way I started to look (my eyes began sinking into my head more…facially, I was showing signs of craziness!) Unfortunately, I had the combination of isolation (being home alone), and social media (attention seeking) to throw more “creative” fuel on the fire.

The growing suspicions kept my mind alert. So of course when the internet and cable went out for “no reason”, while the night prior to the outage I was emailing Bible verses to myhusband half-way across the world into territory un-friendly with Christianity, I panicked. Did I mention I had stopped taking my Bipolar medication?

So, subtly burrowing into my mind were these variables of uncertainty, while circumstances unfolded and looked like they were revealing to me the “truth” of the situation surrounding me: I was wanted. The feeling like I was under the microscope continued to escalate, especially culminating many of these fears at the therapy appointment about one month later where the FBI were actually in the building, on the floor below us. (This was the point where I broke down in manic hysteria and sobbed like a baby, convinced I was why they were there – they were out to get me! “Creative”, right?).

My point is…my mind was really betraying me. I thought I had a handle on reality, but in reality, I had no handle on my thoughts. My mind could not process these growing suspicions, plus lack of meds. it was a recipe for crazy. Paranoia? That was just the beginning.

Come back as I will share more personal examples of “symptoms of the sickness”, and what you can watch for before you or your loved one is starting to slide down that slippery slope into Bipolar Disorder. It’s up to us to face the stigma and “shake it off” with the knowledge we have. Are you BipolarBrave enough?

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