I've spent 18 years getting to know someone with a mental illness. This will be my observations and conclusions on it. She has bipolar disorder. I always assumed this meant really happy or really sad. I was wrong.
Bipolar is a chemical mis-reaction in the brain. It's the chemicals not working correctly. Blocking of certain pathways and overuse of other ones. It can also appear to be a chemical reason for a personality disorder.
When I met her she was visibly manic. Heightened states of activity. Limited sleep. More energy than I'd ever seen in a person before. It made her seem like the perfect woman. She could clean, cook, run a business and care for kids while operating on three to five hours of sleep a day. It was like living with a super hero. Unfortunately this is a temporary state of being. While it's amazing while it's happening, it has consequences. That kind of energy is addictive. Who would want to take pills or medication to stop feeling like a super hero? Not many of us.
The mania was short lived. There were signs something was wrong. Her judgement was often bad. This condition often lead to bad financial decisions, unexplainable arguments, over the top reactions and agressive behavior. Overall, a lack of concern for consequences.
Something I came to notice later on was that she also had a disconnect in the way her words and actions affected those around her. She didn't see it and therefore had trouble apologizing or finding some level of contrition when she hurt someone. She seemed to blaze right past that part of any relationship. She didn't know how to control her words. She didn't know when to stop talking. She couldn't tell when she was getting on someones nerves. It was like she lived on her own planet sometimes. A very self absorbed, self righteous state of being. All that mattered to her was herself even though she obviously cared about others. I know this sounds impossible but another way to phrase it would be this. She cared about others but not to the point of being able to control herself and find good ways to listen.
What information she did take in from others was often used against them in future conversations. In a normal world this is a sign of narcissism. She wasn't listening to empathise and help but rather to build an assault dossier to use against a person later. If the brain were not malfunctioning it would be a gruesome example of selfishness. The results are the same unfortunately.
She was a very nice person who was not very nice sometimes. A good heart with a bad brain running it.
She professed faith in Christ and often seemed to understand the premises of Christianity but had a remarkable disconnect in her ability to understand bible verses and teachings. This while able to quote dozens of notable authors. Strangely, unable to quote scripture in context and verbatim. Almost like that spiritual side of her brain was dysfunctional.
All this went on for many years. It wasn't until she really went off the rails that I started to study Bipolar, Personality Disorders, Narcissism and other related mental maladies.
About 6 months after the birth of our first child she was consumed with an internal depression and self loathing and seemingly, intentionally went on a crime spree. Not a smart one for the purpose of some financial gain or to feed some drug addiction but rather a completely unexplainable one with no great end goal other than to be caught. She stole credit cards inside a church with cameras everywhere.
She was apprehended easily and without a struggle. She drove into the church parking lot with a heavily marked company truck. Once the credit cards showed up missing it was easy to review the camera footage, identify her, identify where the truck was from and catch her.
To do some background, when we met she was just out of prison on auto theft and credit card abuse charges she'd attained in her late teens. She was 23 at the time.
She was strikingly attractive and looked older than her age as a teenager. She had an unplanned pregnancy and due to her diagnosis as bipolar her parents encouraged her to give up her child for adoption. This weighed on her greatly and seemed to exacerbate her mental illness. Her first crime spree ensued.
Interstate car theft and high speed persutes were involved. At some point she was encarcerated in a mental facility, overpowered a guard and tied him up with a jump rope and staged a massive breakout. This seems to have been before the interstate flight and ensuing first jail sentence.
From what I can tell she was in jail for a year and a half on that one. She and I met within weeks of her release. She was a superstar. Beautiful and intelligent and able to run a life without sleep.
At one point she was laying on my office floor when a friend came in. He said "wow I hope I don't wake her up". My response was that she didn't actually sleep... she waited". It seemed funny at the time but it was really quite true. It's possible that the lack of sleep also causes the condition of the brain to deteriorate.
When we met I was in a relationship with her younger sister. Controversial I know. I had just been through a mid life crisis and had become involved with a girl considerably my junior. She was beautiful and I met her at church during a time of great disappointment in my life.
Looking back, I sense both the girls suffered from some degree of psychological malady. Their mother had battled with depression and I sense had bipolar or some other major depressive condition. The mother did not communicate well with her daughters and I sense that some of that disfunction bled out to the daughters.
In whatever case the older sister and I became involved. I fought with the younger one a great deal partly due to our age difference and partly due to her immaturity which came out once we lived together. For a short window of time I was involved with both girls and had justified in my mind the reasoning to keep them both. Almost as a polygamous relationship. In retrospect this was not only not possible but a terrible life plan and a serious lack of accountability and foresight on my part. One of the four biggest mistakes of my life.
In some ways as time went on, I wondered if it was an example of some mental illness on my part. Many years later I saw that a highly dysfunctional upbringing by my parents had given me great swaths of bad information that I had acted on in ignorance. Time would show me the error of my ways but it would be many years before that came to light.
Up until then I had lived in a bit of a stoned stupor as I had been smoking pot every day most of my life from the age of 15. I had effectively locked my personal growth up emotionally just past my fifteenth birthday.
I had already developed an unhealthy sexual addiction thanks to my step fathers porn collection and his propensity towards teen girls also had given him an unseemly agenda of encouraging me to be sexually overactive to bring teen girls into his sphere of influence. This was exacerbated by his regular assertions that I was gay. It became a personal goal to prove him wrong. I acted out on this training for many years. I was a sex addict and a drug addict concealing my weaknesses and disfunction in a cloud of smoke. I was leaving countless people in my wake as I did what my sinful nature found to be natural. It was the 80's. The battle cry was "sex, drugs and rock and roll".