Bipolar and Addiction
“I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.”
Edgar Allan Poe
If you're someone who suffers from either type of Bipolar Affective Disorder, you’ll know addiction is like second nature to us. It's not that people with bipolar are the only people who get addicted, the problem is that we're the first to realize that the addiction is not enough and that we need more of what we're addicted to more often than other people; until it eventually spirals out of control.
Addiction in itself is just a coping mechanism. People with bipolar are more sensitive to the stark realities of life; essentially we see what's going on with world and onlook with dread as everyone happily skips to the bleak beat of the drum and here we are unable to cope with it all. We're just very sensitive. Not in a derogatory way, we're sensitive to the little bits and pieces of life. The ebbs and flows, the birth and decay. It hits us a lot harder than most people, and most of us can't stand it. So we turn to crutches to drown it all out.
The fact is that our body and mind are trying to escape from all the bad and the bleak, this is aside from the fact that trouble seems to follow us wherever we go due to us being so very bad with life decisions. This isn't a bad thing; it's an instinct for survival. Your subconscious mind is trying to save your mental health by using escapism. If your brain catches on that things like drugs, alcohol, and sex are a good way to escape, then we end up in an endless spiral of regression because it's all we know. What we need to do is find an addiction that's not destructive.
That may sound impossible, but if you look hard enough, you can find your niche. If you can learn to take hold of what it is that you're really gifted at you can use it as a substitute for what's been causing your life to spiral out of control. It's called Self-actualization. It sounds easy, and I’ll be honest, it isn't. First, you need to find your gift, explore it, then start working on your destructive behaviors. After that, it's just a slow progressive change that comes with keeping focused and mindfully making decisions to keep on track.
I was fortunate enough to find help when I got it. I met someone who just happened to study psychology and philosophy, and they ended up putting me on the right track. I had to stop “making up" in my head who I thought I was and start looking at the physical evidence of it all, which I found in personality and aptitude tests. I thought I was one thing and it turned out I was another; this was aside from the fact I thought I was useless because of my shortcomings. The fact was because I wasn't “myself" all there was of me was shortcomings. I was failing at being who I thought I should be instead of succeeding at being me. Once I “got addicted” to what I was good at I then found an outlet, and for the first time in my life not only did I excel but I enjoyed it. Not only that, once I discovered my gift I found dozens upon dozens of outlets to use it. It's now my escape.
Addiction is a natural reaction to an unnatural circumstance. We can either choose to let it destroy us, or we can turn it around into something amazing.
Written by Luke Tumelty.