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Arms Up

Moody people are not automatically bipolar, but bipolar people are moody, because bipolar people are people and people are moody.

Many people toss the term “bipolar” around like a swinging hatchet. Comparing moodiness to bipolar disorder is like calling a flame a fire.

I, Suzy, am moody AF. I’ve also got acne (on my face and my bum, like wtevenf), social anxiety, a bit of OCD (I’m still in denial—be gentle), an aversion to pink and ex wives. But my moods swing from I love you to I hate you to hold me to stay away from me within a matter of minutes. Seconds. I’ve seen enough doctors and therapists to know I’m not bipolar; much to my ex husband’s family’s shock and dismay, I’ve merely been diagnosed with “asshole.”

Andrew? Textbook bipolar disorder. His psychiatrist encouraged me to keep a journal so that we could close in on intimate self-awareness which can only help and empower people in our position. Here is summary of the cycle. But first, know these two things:

  1. This is an example of a cycle where Andrew takes medication that keeps the extremes to a minimum; both his mania and depression are no longer life-threatening.
  2. I ask that you read this with a soft and caring heart with respect to the vulnerability and strength it takes to put this out there.

We’ll start from neutral. Neutral looks calm and peaceful. Happy, soft around the edges. Andrew’s mouth will curl up on one side when he smiles. Gentle touches, thoughtful consideration. Safe. This is when I rest and conserve energy.

Then he will get a bit more hyper, a bit more busy. His eyes sparkle, his laugh is more often and a bit louder. More phone calls, more texts. More food. More money (making and spending). He is still happy, and in fact he’s feeling really fucking good about life in this phase. He gets spiritual, sexual. He pulls it out and does the helicopter in the pantry. He’s fun to be around, although I know from experience that the safe part is retreating back a bit. This is when I throw my arms in the air and join in the fun, because a) I love him and b) Why not?! He’s doing the helicopter in the pantry!!! Woohooo!!!

Big ideas. The sparkle in his eyes turn a bit frantic, searching. Louder, faster, he can’t keep up with his ideas. Lots of money (making, and the same amount of spending as the previous phase). He talks about traveling (in the past and what he wants to do in the future). I listen. I listen a lot in this phase. I brace myself.

Agitated as fuck. He hears my ring hit the table. When the kids leave a light on, he boils on the inside. He bites back cutting remarks. I self-regulate and hold onto the words of his psychiatrist when he says, “Suzy, this has nothing to do with you.” I recoil, cocoon, protect.

He doesn’t bite back cutting remarks. I reaffirm my healthy boundaries, take the necessary actions to protect me and our kids spirits, and I hold strong.

Remorse. Dark. Depression. I don’t hear from him. He shuts down, takes off, struggles alone. I take this time to recover, nourish, regulate.

Comes home. I’m here.

Starts over. He helps me.

Flame, fire. Us.



{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Helly September 15, 2016, 7:31 pm

    I love you both. That is all.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 15, 2016, 7:50 pm

      I’m currently entering scandalous statements into Google translate and then me and the automated woman’s voice are saying all sorts of things to Andrew in French.

      • Helly September 15, 2016, 9:23 pm

        You need to do it in Spanish. Tomorrow is our Mexican Independence Day after all 😉

        • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 16, 2016, 7:26 am

          Well then, you know what THIS means. TEQUILA TIME.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 15, 2016, 7:51 pm

      And, <3. Love you too, Helly. XO Can't wait to squeeze you again.

  • Allie September 16, 2016, 3:07 am

    The amount of courage it takes to put this out here, I cannot imagine. The amount of people you may inspire and help and encourage, I also cannot imagine. xoxoxo

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 16, 2016, 7:25 am

      Yeah, it definitely made us squirmy. But even if it helps one person, we’re good with that. It also helps heal us too, at the same time.

  • Susie @ SuzLyfe September 16, 2016, 4:01 am

    <3 <3 <3 Thank you for helping us all understand a bit more of what it is like. Love you.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 16, 2016, 7:24 am

      <3 Right back atcha.

  • Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home September 16, 2016, 4:13 am

    See, there’s bipolar and then there’s people throwing around the word bipolar for moody folks. Big difference. Thanks for putting it out there.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 16, 2016, 7:24 am

      Hey, it’s important! Not even so much to stop the misuse of the term, but more to just better explain what the disorder is and what it looks like (compared to typical moodiness).

  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets September 16, 2016, 4:51 am

    Sometimes I think recognizing this is the hardest part: “Suzy, this has nothing to do with you.”

    You two are amazing.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 16, 2016, 7:23 am

      Totally, 100% the hardest thing EVER.

      Thank you.

  • Megan @ Meg Go Run September 16, 2016, 7:32 am

    I’m glad you talk about this! I know it helps you, but I know it helps all of us understand bipolar disorder better!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 16, 2016, 6:50 pm

      Well, good! I like hearing that!

  • San September 16, 2016, 10:29 am

    So many thoughts on this, Suzy. Thanks for sharing this. So much of it sounds familiar and then it doesn’t (remember how I said, all symptoms are so textbook but how they manifest themselves IRL is so different in every case?).
    I want to hug you because I know how hard this is and how hope and love and the belief is what holds everything together.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 16, 2016, 6:56 pm

      Yes, okay that’s something else to think about/teach too. Because I know a few people with bipolar and it looks so different in each of them, which makes sense because we’re human and dynamic.

      I want you to hug me too.

  • Jen September 16, 2016, 10:32 am

    This is very real and raw. I have a lot of feels about this.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 16, 2016, 6:57 pm

      It’s like… yeah. I know.

  • Ana September 16, 2016, 11:36 am

    Thank you for sharing this ! This is as real
    As life gets, and you are a champ for having this so well figured out.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 16, 2016, 6:59 pm

      Well, I don’t have it figured out and if I did then God would have a good laugh at my expense, and he’s already got enough on my tape for entertainment’s sake.

  • Laura @ This Runner's Recipes September 16, 2016, 12:59 pm

    You are such a courageous writer and caring woman, Suzy. Thank you for sharing this – it couldn’t have be easy to write. <3

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 16, 2016, 6:59 pm

      I’ve got a set, that’s for sure. I buy my undies in XXL.

  • Amy Lauren September 16, 2016, 3:11 pm

    You have a lot of courage to share so much, so rawly, about bipolar disorder. I really admire that. *hugs*

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 16, 2016, 7:01 pm

      I will gladly pass along the hugs to Andrew who is the most courageous of them all for not only being open about his struggles but letting ME of all people share it in my own *special* way. But I have to warn you that my hugs involve some major groping, and you’re probably going to have to pay duty.

  • Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine September 16, 2016, 4:32 pm

    Love this. You guys are so amazing and strong. Its so important to remember that its not about you and as hard as Im sure it can be, Im glad you can recognize that.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com September 16, 2016, 7:02 pm

      Recognizing it “on paper” is a hellofalot easier than recognizing it in real life. I’ve got an incredible support system that catches me when I’m messy. Thank Grace. And running. And wine. And all my other OCD crutches.

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