High Frights Halloween Fans!!! Welcome to ‘How to Understand and Manage Bipolar Disorder: Death.’ Please be aware that this post comes with a trigger warning attached as some of the content may be distressing.
How to Understand and Manage Bipolar Disorder: Death and Dignity
Let me paint a picture for you Halloween Fans; A good friend and family member suddenly dies, I purchase Declan a suit and dress in extremely conservative clothes. Furthermore, I offer support to the family and write for our late loved one’s funeral. At no time do I show grief publicly, nor behave outside of the right parameters for the occasion.
Unlike many I do not drink alcohol at that time, nor cry. I show the correct courtesies and follow what I believe to be the correct etiquette. Appearances would suggest that I am not affected by the loss. This is far from the truth. My behavior is the result of experience and belief in respect for those lost and for those left behind. Inside I can be absolutely burning up with grief, but I cannot show it, dare not show it. This is because the minute the flood gates open, I know that I will lose control.
How to Understand and Manage Bipolar Disorder: Death as a Universal Loss
Death is inevitable, people live and they die. Loss is a sadness that everyone experiences and cannot be avoided. My mum knows how I feel about death and funerals as does my husband. The rest of the world only see what I let them see. So as you may imagine this particular entry is extremely hard. Bipolar survivors are terribly sensitive, especially when it comes to death.
How to Understand and Manage Bipolar Disorder: Death and Hyper-Religiosity
Ironically survivors also have a tendency to be hyper-religious. Nothing is done by half, not where bipolar disorder is concerned. Consequently, survivors tend to have vast and complicated spiritual beliefs that are constantly in flux. I remember being at school and I was late to my religious studies class. This was largely because I had got off the train and wandered around the town sauntering in to school via the longest possible route. I would have been about 15 and already had a head full of ideas.
The class were talking about reincarnation and one thing I loved about religious studies was the seminar-like nature of the class. I proposed that time is irrelevant to the spirit, Einstein suggested time is curved in which case there is a possibility of two points in time meeting. Further, I proposed that time was much more complex and posited also that there were different dimensions and alternative realities. As such if reincarnation were a fact then it is likely that another life could be either in the future or in the past and not necessarily in this dimension. No one grasped my idea, so I drew a diagram on the board to explain what I meant; a tesseract. I didn’t know it was a tesseract back then, it just seemed to exhibit my ideas. I think everyone was quite bemused.
I have had and continue to have a vast array of spiritual ideas. My first non-fiction book was called ‘Promises of an Afterlife.’ This examined some case studies in Near Death Experience. Recently I completed another piece comparing Buddhism and Christianity. Now, I have wandered off topic a little bit here, but the point that I am making is that survivors tend to believe in something beyond this life. This does not, however, prevent or thwart the feeling of grief.
How to Understand and Manage Bipolar Disorder: Death and Loss
Indeed, quite the opposite, you see even though there is something beyond this life, this does not detract from that fact that within this life the lost friend will not be seen again, will not share their company again and are gone for the foreseeable future. It is also a firm and constant reminder of our own insignificance and mortality.
My first experience of loss happened at a very early age, it was very upsetting and still sits deeply with me. Subsequently, I became introverted for a year or so. I don’t really want to go into detail at this time on that matter as it is still very difficult. However, I will say that one close loss resulted in me spiraling into a full-blown manic episode many years later. I think, looking back, that that was my way of coping. It also helped diagnosis and led to some introspection and consideration of how to handle grief. I won’t lie to you, on a bad day I still get upset over one loss or another. Perhaps that spiritual quest is a way of confirming that the loss is not forever.
I have written poems for those that I have lost, people have responded very emotionally to my words. However, there is no magical cure for grief, no ideas as to how to stop the hurt. I can only propose that you celebrate the memory of someone’s life rather than mourn their death. It is a pain that is universally felt, so in this we are all together and not alone.