Guest Post – The Bipolar Biker

BPD. OCD. SH. PTSD. H

The above are just letters, yes? Meaningless to some, a mere jumble of random letters. Or a seriously shit hand if you’re playing Scrabble.

Bur what does it all mean?

Well, they all mean a lot to me. In fact, they define me.

I’ll give you a run down of what they all mean.

BPD – that’s the Bipolar Disorder that I live with. And when I say ‘I’, I mean me and the people who I live and work with. It’s not just hard to live with the feelings that come free with every bout of depression, but it’s hard for those that support and care for me.

BPD is mainly manic depression, which can control so much of my life. The manic highs ain’t what they’re cracked up to be.

Imagine a hyper active 3-year-old on the mother of all sugar rushes. Then imagine that 3-year-old as a 5’7″, 14 stone guy who knows how to look after himself and is pretty much unstoppable.. That’s what my partner has to put up with. It makes me do things that normal men my age wouldn’t think of doing.

When I’m on a manic high, I have a wicked sense of humour and (so it’s been said) a cheeky glint in my eye and I can be very confidant. Or overly confidant. I feel untouchable. Totally 100% invincible. And that’s when I put myself at risk or in harm’s way. All without realising it. It’s hard to explain, but trust me, it’s a damn sight harder to live with. Just ask my long-suffering partner.

And then there’s the flip side – the depression. Some people think that those who suffer with depression can ‘snap out of it’ or ‘pull ourselves together’. It’s not that easy.

There are days that just drag on, minute by minute, hour by hour. The days where I can’t move, I can’t think, I can’t ‘be’. Those are the dark days, the days full of self loathing and every breath, every movement is painful.

My skin feels like its paper-thin. Just a breeze can feel like razor cuts. It’s not a real pain, I know that, but during these times, it’s real enough. Even thinking hurts me. I can’t get motivated to even take care of everyday hygiene. I can’t shave. Looking in a mirror I see a waste of space, a failure, and I hate myself. I don’t mean a general ‘dislike’, I’m meaning pure, unadulterated hatred. And that hatred is for every part of me. My body, the way I look, the way I am.

I wish, as I’m sure a lot of people who suffer with depression, that there was just a happy medium. No depression. No mania. Just me. But, there are times when I think that would make me boring. Or maybe not……

Then there’s OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Or, as I prefer to call it, CDO as it’s more ordered. Whilst I acknowledge that I’m lucky as I don’t have extreme OCD like some people, the small effects that I DO have are more than enough.

Some people find my OCD or bête noir amusing, and I suppose they are, but they can make life difficult for me. I can’t have melted chocolate near me AT ALL!!! I have to check locks on doors and windows at least 5 times. And even then, I’ve been known to tour round the house and re-check. Or drive back from a trip out to make sure the door is shut and secure.

Sounds funny, but it can really put the mockers on a day out or can lead to sleepless nights. Which can lead to other issues.

On to SH. That’s Self Harm. I self harm. Not just when I’m in the pits of depression, but also when I’m on a manic high. Self harm has had a bad press recently and for some sad reason seems to have become a fashion statement for ‘da yoof’ of today, but it’s not just the teenage girl in her room making tentative scratches on her arms that is the typical self harmer.

It’s not just cutting. I don’t cut. Every one of my fingers has been broken. My wrist has a hairline fracture that went unseen to. I hit things. It was mistaken for temper tantrums when I was younger. But it’s not a temper thing. It’s not an attention seeking thing. It’s a way to feel. Something. Anything.

Some times I just feel nothing. No feeling for anyone, anything or myself. So, the pain I feel reminds me that I’m alive. Kind of…. A negative feeling is better than no feeling. And the thing is, at the time, I don’t realise I’m doing it. I wake up with bruises or another finger dislocated.

So, how did I hide the bruising, the dislocations? Easy. I have an active job. I have done jobs that are very physical and so the bruising were ‘part of the job’.

The PTSD is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This used to be called ‘Shell Shock’ during the First World War, and soldiers suffered from it because of the constant barrage of shells from the enemy. The soldiers who were afflicted by it couldn’t carry out their duties as a soldier and were therefore, treated as deserters and shot.

So what brings about PTSD? Naturally, I wasn’t under constant shelling from an enemy army. The clue is in the title. Post. Trauma.

During my life, I have suffered at the hands of others. And that has left some serious mental scarring. I have lived with this all my life, and until a bout of hypnotherapy, it remained locked away. It was almost as if it was a ghost memory, something that’s there, but nothing that I can recall.

It did, however, make me confused as to who and what I was. I went through my teenage years angry (or even more angry than the usual teen) and I never knew why. Nor did my parents.

Long story short, I felt my sexuality was questionable. And so I ‘experimented’ when I was 16 or so. Big mistake. I ended up getting attacked.

And who could I tell?

Not

A

Soul.

And so I lived with that and buried it deep inside. I have coping mechanisms that I put into place to ‘block’ bad things. But the thing is, they’re never really blocked. The memories just sit there and fester. And sometimes they come out with explosive results.

As did mine thanks to hypnotherapy. I still have nightmares about it. But, with support, I’m coping with it.

And there we go, dear reader.

Well…. almost. What about the ‘H’ I hear you ask?

Well that is simple.

The H is for Human.

Same as you, dear reader. I have my faults, and plenty of them. I know that. And I acknowledge it.

But, as we humans do, I have my good points too.

I said at the beginning of this post that these things define me. And they have.

Even with all my ‘issues’ I have lived a fruitful life. I have found love. I have found someone who I can talk to, someone I can share my deepest secrets with. I have felt the love that only having children can bring. I have served in the police force and served well. I’m able to hold down a job.

And for the most part, I have found understanding. But I have also found ignorance too. And I hope that the stigma that is attached to mental illness can be got rid of. I hope so. I really do.

A lot of people are surprised when I tell them that I have a mental illness. But its part of me. It IS me. But I’m not brave for talking about it. Far from it.

I’m just me. Just a whole lotta thoughts and a load of letters that are a rubbish Scrabble hand….

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Follow more from the Bipolar Biker at his blog here or connect with him on twitter here

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