Personal Development

A Tale of Two Faces | How Not to Shop for a Vacuum Cleaner: Bipolar Episodes of Mania & Depression

Monday 26 January 2015

Last night, I had intense episodes of bipolar mania and depression, worse than the last episode I had and wrote about two months ago in my post, A Tale of Two Faces | From the Ashes.  It was absolutely horrible.  I’m unsure if the circumstances contributed to the cause of the episodes, but I’ll explain them, anyway, in order to give you an idea of what and how they can happen (for me, anyway, since bipolar episodes vary widely in their pattern, severity, and frequency from person to person, apparently).

Prelude

Earlier yesterday afternoon, I was mildly stressed because it seemed like my husband, Ashton, was going to renege when he gave me the impression that we were going out to buy a new vacuum cleaner (along with a few other sundry items).  And I know it seems petty for me to be upset over something as seemingly minuscule as that, but allow me to explain:

(1) I still only have my learner’s permit, so I can’t legally drive by myself without a licensed driver.  

(2) We have a lengthy history (five years) of him frequently failing to follow through when he tells me we’re going to go somewhere or do something.  I get excited, thinking that I’m going to have a break from being cooped up in our apartment with our three “relentless dictators.”  Then, he decides to crush my enthusiasm with his apathetic laziness.  I just wish he would stop telling me things unless he fully intends to follow through.  But, maybe after all of these years, I should know better than to have these expectations of him.

(3) I already told the children we were going somewhere – we were all ready and waiting on Ashton – and I hate going back on my word, even to our kids.  My biological mother used to promise my siblings and I the world (i.e. a permanent return home from foster care so we’d all be together again as a family forever), but she rarely delivered.  It was so disappointing, but I never credited it to her because of her mental instability.  

So, in order to calm down, I begrudgingly decided to sit down with Anne and accept the fact that we probably weren’t going anywhere, after all.  Besides, I rationalized, Ashton probably just wants to relax on his one day off of his stressful job at KIA.  And perhaps I assumed that he said we’d go, because I have been known to assume his answer to be in my favor when in actuality, he wasn’t even paying attention to me.

We did end up going.  On the way there, I texted my friend, Amberlynn, to ask if she was available to meet since she lived nearby our destination.  While I was awaiting her response, I suggested to Ashton that, if she was available, he could take me and the girls to her place and he and Tristan could choose a vacuum cleaner without me.  I wanted to spare myself the aggravation of his fastidiousness.

He suggested that I shouldn’t meet with her if her boyfriend was there.  I immediately became defensive, because I knew why he felt that way.  He’s insecure and doesn’t trust me, afraid of an impropriety – but not because of anything I’ve done wrong but because he was cheated on in previous relationships.  (I assume that’s why, anyway.)  Even though I’ve been committed and faithful to him from the beginning, he never gave me so much as a chance to be trusted.  And I grow tired of playing his games to coddle his insecurities.

A mild argument ensued; in turn, he became defensive.  I’m assuming it’s because I told him exactly how I felt about it.  I told him that he had double standards because he’s been without me with the opposite sex and with other couples, and I trust him.  I also told him not to treat me like a child, like I’m incapable of being appropriate around others without him.  Really?!  C’mon!

Mania

Anyway, Amberlynn wasn’t available, after all – she had to pick up one of her daughters and then meet her boyfriend for dinner – so I had to shop with Ashton.  It was the worst shopping experience I’ve ever had with him, and there’s been a few terrible ones (all similar scenarios).

I really wanted to pick up the sundry items on my list first so we could have that out of the way in order to better focus our attention on choosing a vacuum cleaner (which I didn’t seriously communicate to Ashton; I merely mentioned it to him whilst browsing our way to the vacuum aisle, unrealistically expecting him to take my suggestion seriously).  I knew a decent vacuum cleaner was important to him – even the thought of dirty floors provokes him.  Additionally, I didn’t want to be overwhelmed with hurrying to pick up the other items on my list before it became too late in the evening.

Ashton insisted that I choose the vacuum cleaner since I was the one who was going to be using it the most, but I insisted that he make the decision because he actually cares about how our floors get clean.  (Personally, I was content with the cordless stick vacuum that we had before our move.)  While I focused my attention partly on the kids and partly on reading the vacuum information sheets, Ashton read reviews on his iPhone about the various vacuums in stock.  After several minutes of this, he became irritated and again insisted that it was my turn to choose.

The fact that I thought he had ulterior motives to control me, combined with the events from earlier was enough to send my stress levels from barely manageable to sky-high.  And I had a manic episode, right there, in the middle of Wal-Mart. I was in an energetic state of agitation and aggressiveness.  My thoughts were racing and I was unable to concentrate on the task at hand.  I acted out, arguing with Ashton.  I used mild profanity – which I felt horrible about, even in the moment – but I just couldn’t seem to pull myself together.

To add to the chaos and stress, we somehow lost Anne’s bottle, so she was fussy.  We had to detour to the baby aisle in order to get a new bottle and pre-mixed formula, which Anne did not particularly like, so she remained fussy.  Ashton’s irritation climbed and so did mine.  I just wanted to go home and get away from the situation so I could calm down.  I was embarrassed by my lack of self-control, even though I don’t think anyone noticed (at least I hope no one noticed our bickering).  I ended up taking Anne out of her car seat and holding her to calm her.

Back in the vacuum aisle, Ashton and I were still argumentative, but we managed to agree on a Bissell without cord retraction.  So, in a sense, losing Anne’s bottle was a blessing in disguise because it forced a quicker resolve from us.

Depression

On the way back home – without anything else purchased on my list except for one item – my thoughts began to turn to a darker side.  I was so frustrated with depending on Ashton for, well, everything. I think I might be codependent?  Let’s see … Codependency is defined as “a psychological condition or a relationship in which a  person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or mental illness); broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another” according to Merriam-Webster.  Yeah, that seems somewhat like me, regrettingly.

I’ve never been fully independent.  Even after I became an adult six years ago (I’m 24), there’s always been someone there that  I could rely on to guide me along and support me.  Not just financially, either. I have been in a codependent friendship before where I supported us both financially.  I can’t not be with someone.  As an extrovert, I suppose, it’s about just being in the company of another, knowing that they are there if  I need them or they need me.

So, on the way home, I was wondering if  I would ever be independent (or have a healthy amount of independence in our marriage relationship, rather).  I felt hopeless, like I would always have this child-like dependence on Ashton.  (Oh, Childhood, why did you have to get yourself robbed from me?)  With thoughts like those running through my mind, I felt like it would be best if  I weren’t alive so I wouldn’t be a burden to anyone any longer.  

Back at home, Ashton asked my permission to spend time with his friend, who had texted him.  Even though our tempers had drastically calmed (outwardly for me, anyway) by this point, I welcomed respite from him with open arms.  Alone, the dark storm of formidable thoughts brewing in my mind on the way home magnified, unleashing a whirlwind of self-inflicted violence.

I was frustrated with and even hated myself.  I was already wailing uncontrollably shortly after Ashton left.  I started hitting and punching myself and pulling my hair.  I physically took all of the torment inside out on myself, as I sunk to the kitchen floor against the cabinet in despair.  After several minutes of this, I calmed down. And it was over.  I then took our new vacuum cleaner out of the box and began to assemble it.

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