My therapist fixed me with a stern gaze,
“How would you feel about being bi ?” she asked. Cue puzzled expression, lots of looking at the ceiling and a rather hesitant answer..
“Err, is that an invitation ?. Is it something you’d recommend trying ?. Where do you start ?. Is it compulsory ?. ”
I sensed we had reached a rather difficult topic of conversation. I’d gone in about work issues and somehow my sexual orientation was up for discussion. I was a bit confused. I pressed on..
“Err, I like girls…”
My therapist sat bolt upright in her chair.
“No, not that sort of bi. Sorry, very badly phrased. I meant, what do you think of the concept of bipolar disorder as being part of your Autism ?”
I hadn’t considered it. To be honest I wasn’t someone who had given much thought to other conditions and how they might interact with the overriding Aspergers diagnosis apart from the obvious dysthymia and depression diagnoses.
I shy away from too much self diagnosis because I’m not a very good judge of myself. I have Aspergers but because it’s who I am and what I am and how I am, I don’t try to add labels where none might exist and think it’s for others, based on my experiences or their interactions with me, to decide if I have a or b.
I’m no expert on bipolar but I am aware that several well known individuals such as Stephen Fry and James Wade, the darts player, have been diagnosed as such. I don’t know what the symptoms are per se or how the condition is diagnosed but I believe that it involves extreme highs and lows where the highs last for a good length of time.
So that rules me out.
My highs are very short lived. If I get manic moments (my partner calls them the too many E numbers moments) then they probably last 20 minutes tops. I get high, I get euphoric, I get silly and a mania overtakes me, I say and do silly things. But it doesn’t last. I crash and burn so quickly and return to my more usual state of a chronic underlying depression punctuated by suicidal (or not wanting to live) episodes, self harm of varying severity and moments of terrifying, inward looking rage.
But there are three aspects, for want of a better word, to my Autism. My middle ground is the majority area of depression, confusion, sensory issues and strict desire for routine. I guess that covers about 60% of my time. Then there’s the low end where I want to die, I look longingly at the pills in my cupboard and wish I had the strength to take them all, I fall into the well of self loathing, of self disgust and hatred and want to tear myself to pieces. That’s another 35% of me.
And then that final 5% is perhaps, not so much a high high but a feeling that things are slightly better than average punctuated by the wahey moments, the drug free euphoria.
I wish I knew how to increase the 5% but worry that even if I did I may pull myself further apart and by changing the 5% to 10%, I would also add 5% to the low end and simply eat into the middle ground.
My mood is rarely settled. Outwardly perhaps but that’s the game isn’t it ?. The great acting job we or I do to present a “normal” face to the world. I have to display the middle ground as much as possible in terms of mood. People don’t want me talking about my doom or swinging from the light fittings.
And perhaps that’s part of the problem. I’ve lived for 50 years. I act normal. I have no outlets for the real me so a frustration builds that can only manifest itself in the bad stuff and the good stuff finds itself cornered.
Mood, changing mood, changing mood
I know the real me.
But what do I do with it ?