If anxiety and bipolar are like ‘two friends at the playground’ trying to ruin your life, there are ways you can take your life back.
A few months ago, when I was getting ready to launch my new freelance writing company, I was a nervous wreck.
I was scared out of my mind. It was a feeling that I hadn’t experience in a while; usually putting out a project or launching a new business venture is exciting and I’m fearless. Some of those events were calculated, some were impulsive; such projects I took on when I was diagnosed in 2011 that cost me thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it, due to a very hypomanic episode. But this one was different.
When Anxiety Turns Physical
At the beginning of the summer, I started The Mad Writer Project as a company that would manage all of my projects that centered around my work, whether it’s creative or content writing.
The name comes from the name of my blog. I was also paying homage to creative figures with mental illness; I’m known for my intense creativity when I get into a zone, especially when I’m experiencing hypomania. The idea was to return to my roots of creative writing, as I was becoming disappointed in the direction I was going. I also wanted to be more experimental with my work, as well as have more control over it.
The word “control” will come up again later. I was going to operate it through a certain creative business platform, which would’ve allowed me to better centralize my work.
The Mad Writer Project was making me nervous as heck. It was affecting me physically and mentally.
While the company itself already existed on paper, the launch was planned for two months later. I later moved it to a month earlier. For a week before the launch, I was experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath. I was told that I needed to step back and calm down. But I couldn’t. The fear of that this venture could fail had me in its grasp.
When Bipolar and Anxiety Collide
Why did I bring up this little story that I’m not even sure makes sense? It goes back to 2011 when I was told that I suffered from an Anxiety disorder.
I didn’t believe this doctor, who I already considered offensive and condescending because of her overall attitude; when I brought up that I was first diagnosed with Bipolar disorder in 2007, she said that usually when patients come to her with bipolar disorder, it’s because they’ve been to jail or the hospital. As a black man who has never been to jail, I found that extremely offensive.
The thought of me having an anxiety disorder was beyond me. Then she explained that my history of Anxiety Attacks was in my medical records that went back to at least five or six years.
I wasn’t even aware that this was documented; after that session, I learned to constantly check my records. I still thought that she was full of (insert whatever word or expletive that you so choose). After all, I was always under the assumption that people with anxiety attacks would freak out and act out-of-control “crazy.” That was a sign of my ignorance of mental health issues at the time, so you have to keep that in mind before you start blasting me.
The Symptoms, and Struggle to Manage Them
She explained to me that not all anxiety attacks are the same; however, I definitely had the signs and symptoms. A couple of therapists, psychiatrists, and a group therapy for anxiety later, my records were updated with generalized anxiety disorder, adding to my list of ailments that was starting to look like a grocery list.
Twelve weeks of group therapy and I finally realized that I really do suffer from an anxiety disorder.
The difference with me is that while some people have extreme anxiety attacks, my symptoms aren’t always so intense. There are notable examples.
But regardless of how minor my attacks are compared to other people that I know with the same thing, the feeling that you’re struggling to breath, your chest is hurting, and the room is closing in on you isn’t a fun experience.
That was what I was experiencing when I was getting ready to launch The Mad Writer Project.
But despite the advice of people close to me, I kept pushing and torturing myself.
After a while, when my computer was taken out of my hands, it was launched. It was over. It was out there and I couldn’t take it back. I eventually got better. It was a sense of relief.
Conquering The Need to Always Be ‘In Control’
As I continue to get a better understanding of my bipolar disorder, I realize that bipolar and anxiety are almost like two peas in a pod.
Although I can have attacks on their own, I probably have more anxiety attacks when I’m hypomanic; though I can also experience them in my depressed and mixed episodes.
It comes from the fact that I put too much on myself; when hypomanic I can take on so many projects, I don’t know what to do with them. I’m all over the place. I become overwhelmed. My body knows this. My mind knows this. But the bipolar doesn’t care. I lose my sense of control.
That’s the biggest source of my anxiety, I eventually learned: The fear of not being in control.
With bipolar disorder, I don’t always have the control that I wish to have. It takes over me and I find myself obligated to follow through; or repair the damage that is caused—I no longer have control over the basic matters of my life. Whether it’s my life or what’s around me, I have a huge fear of not being in control, coupled with my huge fear of failure. That’s when my chest hurts, I feel like I am struggling to breathe, and the room feels like it’s closing in.
Here’s the moral of my story, which I still hope makes sense: It’s no secret among the people who know me that I can have control issues, mainly because I have major trust issues.
What I’m slowly learning is that I simply can’t control everything. I can control only so much. Instead of trying to control everything around me, I should focus on the few things that I can control, such as how I create my work.
I also have to learn to trust more. But those things are so much easier said than done, especially when you consider the fact that I’m a borderline perfectionist. But I’m slowly trying to step back and let loose of the reigns, even with my business. It triggers my anxiety, but in this case, it’s necessary. I have to do what’s uncomfortable so I can get better.
I can take whatever medication my psychiatrist prescribes to me, but I know that that’s not the cure. It only helps me better manage it. Otherwise, making those uncomfortable steps is the only true way I can treat not only my anxiety attacks but also my bipolar disorder in general.
When Bipolar Dances with Anxiety
Living with Anxiety? 3 Ways Pets Can Completely Change Your Life
The post How to Stop Feeling ‘Bullied’ by Bipolar & Anxiety appeared first on bpHope.