When bipolar confusion leads us into unknown landscapes, it is essential that we ask for help—before we get lost in our own minds.
“Only Carin could get lost in the high desert of Smith Rock,” said my friend, Dave, as he shook his head and laughed. “How in the world did you do it?”
“I don’t know,” I responded, head down.
It was 24 hours since I had started hiking the day before, and more than 22 miles from our climbing camp in central Oregon. And I had no idea how I had gotten there. After a week of rock climbing the hardest routes I could find, of baking in the sun, of sleeping little, and of being the female star of our eight-person climbing group, I wanted a break, and so I headed out at 4 a.m., through a rock formation called Asterisk Pass.
The Crooked River flowed downstream to my left, the spires of Smith Rock to my right. Landmarks surrounded me, but somehow I still got lost.
I knew I had gone too far, but I just kept on walking, making one poor decision after another. And when I arrived at a little farmhouse at 2 a.m. the next morning, tearful and scared, an elderly woman called my friends and they ended their search for me by driving to pick me up. My only memories of my trek were of cow skulls, sinister faces that had formed in the cliffs beside me, and a fast river that I thought of swimming across.
Read more of my article at https://www.bphope.com/blog/how-did-i-get-here-confronting-bipolar-disorder-confusion/.
A bipolar mixed episode is a uniquely confusing experience and can result in a state of extreme agitation and despair, but you can prevent this by recognizing early signs of a coming episode.
I sat at dusk, my arms around my knees, at the junction of a turbulent and muddy river and the slow, dark water of an ocean inlet. As I sat at the convergence of two vastly different and yet similar things, my mind, too, found itself at its own convergence. Somehow, two moods-vastly different and yet somehow similar-had merged into something terrifying, feverish, and inexplicably sad.
Hours earlier, when I was overflowing with love and grandiose dreams, I spent several hundred dollars on gourmet cookies and bouquets of roses and lilies to hand out to friends. Later, as day turned into evening, mania and depression blended together into the unique and startling pain of a bipolar mixed episode….
Read more at https://www.bphope.com/blog/agitated-despair-mixed-episodes-and-bipolar-disorder/
Every year, the returning sunlight marks the coming of my most dangerous season, and so begins my preparation for another bipolar spring.
I have my very own bipolar calendar. And it is nearly always the same. Every spring, like clockwork, the sun returns to southern Alaska with an unnecessary force, and with it comes the manic eruptions that signal the end of the comforting darkness of winter.
Read more at https://www.bphope.com/blog/learning-to-set-the-rules-for-your-bipolar-calendar-as-the-seasons-change/
During my depressive bipolar cycles, a river is what remains in my mind. Always. The sea, now that you can forget — the way the wind ruffles the surface or falls calm like a lake — but a river is what remains after my memory of it has seemingly passed, even after my imagination stops adorning it with riffles and dark wet holes and oxbow lakes. It lingers.
I am an Alaskan woman in love with a river. I love the muskeg along the banks of that river, the crooked black spruce that struggle for the sky but always fail, their bark wet with the effort, their limbs broken from the start by their own soggy roots. In Alaska, muskeg means a river is nearby. In the case of my very own river, the Delta Clearwater, it means it is flowing, slow and cold and spring-fed, somewhere beneath the tundra at my feet, and somewhere beneath where my grandparents built my family’s rickety old cabin….
A previous blog post of mine has been published on The Mighty. You can read more of it here: https://themighty.com/2018/01/suicidal-delta-clearwater-river-helps-me/
Do you ever trick people into thinking you are OK?
Individuals with bipolar disorder quickly learn how to become tricksters—because the truth is simply not polite.
I leaned to the left in the photograph, laughing as I held a puppy on the bow of a green riverboat. I was smiling my slightly crooked smile, and in the background—in a dark sky above black spruce trees—were two bright arcs of a double rainbow. A puppy, a smile, a rainbow—all three were the unmistakable symbols of pure and perfect happiness.
Little did the photographer, or anyone else, know that it was all a trick. Despite the props in that photograph, despite being surrounded by joy and backlit by rainbows, the sky was still dark.
Read the rest of my article at https://www.bphope.com/blog/the-bipolar-trickster-smiling-in-the-face-of-it/.
Remorse after a bipolar episode can cause tremendous pain, but when everybody else says “don’t look back,” I say: “look.”
I once read a book about tracking animals, and when I lived for several months on the edge of the enormous Chugach State Park in Alaska, I tracked a snowshoe hare in the alder thickets along the side of a popular hiking trail.
Read more of my blog article at bphope.com https://www.bphope.com/blog/self-tracking-moving-forward-after-a-bipolar-episode/
Creativity can offer relief from bipolar depression, and it can help your hope soar as you realize your potential to help others through self-expression. Read and share my first article for bp Magazine:
Disappearance is easy in Alaska, but after decades of wanting to escape into the wilderness, I know now why I always come home.
He simply got up and walked into the wilderness. His name was Justin and he was teenager living with a mental health condition, an affliction that affects so many of us, so he walked into the Chugach Mountains, the vast front range that towers over Anchorage, Alaska. He was never seen again. I was 13, with my own budding manias and depressions, and thus began my first fantasies of disappearance.
Continue reading my article on bphope.com: https://www.bphope.com/blog/my-bipolar-fantasies-of-disappearance-and-why-i-always-return/