I knew very little about bipolar disorder when my son was diagnosed. My knowledge was limited to the assumption that there were tremendous, manic highs…followed by deep moments of despair. I don’t know how I came upon this preconceived notion…but I’d never realized that depression could manifest itself in the form of annoyance and intense irritability.
Extreme, prolonged, intense irritability.
I’d written off T’s seething annoyance as everything from fatigue to hormones…and I still believe that a lack of sleep is a recipe for disaster. Or at minimum, it sets the stage for one hell of an argument.
I’ve learned over time that arguments with T are frequently dramatic, regularly intense and oftentimes draining. I used to panic at the depth of his anger…I’d have this sense that our relationship was on the brink of devastation and I’d fear that we’d never be the same again.
I’ve since realized that like a summer thunderstorm, his anger is powerful…but it blows over quickly. I also recognize that most of the time, my unconditional love makes me the perfect verbal punching bag for his frustration and mood swings.
And yet. This is the same guy who’s wickedly creative, with a wry sense of humor and the ability to deliver a joke with remarkable comedic timing. He’s charming, sensitive and will spend an inordinate amount of time helping a friend work through his problems, without any expectations or agenda. He cares deeply…about everything.
That intensity seems to be at the crux of his personality. There is no middle road with T…he moves at warp speed and lives his life with unbridled passion. You can’t help but to get caught up in his enthusiasm…to find yourself being swept up in the wave of emotions that make up a typical day in his life.
This spectrum of characteristics makes T one complicated guy. Being in a relationship with him can be exhausting…and exhilarating all at the same time. He challenges you to love him for who he is…and he has high expectations for himself and those around him.
If I said I didn’t have some concerns for his future, I’d be lying. T can be unrealistically impulsive…and he’s very much a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda guy. I’m not sure how that will translate into adulthood. I hope that with age, he may become a bit more practical…and a bit less reckless. But I hope he can maintain the qualities that make him the unique and extraordinary person I’ve grown to love.
As I’d expect, there may not be a middle of the road…for it’s all or nothing in the world, according to my amazing, complex boy.
This is the second of two posts written by Kathryn on loving someone with bipolar. The first post is Your Mood Swings are Giving Me Whiplash.
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