In many of the posts I write, I try to acknowledge that some characteristics of people with bipolar disorder (or other mental illnesses) are not totally absent in those without such diagnoses. For example, a symptom of bipolar hypomania or mania is rapid speech, but we all know that there are non-mentally ill people out there that speak very quickly and voluminously. In this post I want to discuss my tendency to be a tad too demonstrative and open at times. I’d like to explore if that tendency is related to my bipolar disorder, or just me, and if just me, why I’m like this.
I could never be an effective actress. It’s just too difficult for me to fake emotion. But that doesn’t mean I don’t wear emotions on my face frequently. Actually, I know I do, pretty much all the time in front of people, and even when I’m alone. I believe some of what is going on in my mind shows clearly on my face (frown, clenching teeth, smile, shock, etc.) People have told me that just by looking at me they receive strong vibes, sometimes positive and sometimes negative. I think usually my inner feelings are clear, but in the case of anxiety when I try to stuff the emotion some quizzical look appears. Probably still of fear, but in a weird way. Even if most of the pain seems like two fists rolling in my stomach, the pain can’t help but show at least in my eyes.
When I write (usually typing), my fingers fly across the keyboard. Everything in my mind just dumps out in a fast continuous flow. Unless I’m writing some formal letter or e-mail, most other written pieces have no holds barred. Part of the reason, I think, is because I get so excited when I’m writing. Believe me. When I write in a place where I feel free and safe, I just want to dance around with the words, and tell everyone what I’m thinking.
I am rather lonely at home, especially now since my pet parrot died. I yearn for interactions with people, and yet I can only manage to push myself out of my comfort zone (my bedroom nook) once or twice per day, if that. I guess I want to introduce myself to people quickly to establish connections with no delay. I also enjoy reading about others, and communicating to them in response, too. It is especially satisfying when I can relate to another, or if I learn something new from them. When they respond back I feel less lonely.
Someone close to me very recently asked me to delete one of my blog posts. This person said that I revealed something they thought was too private. They thought I shared it in a way that was disrespectful of its importance. That made me sad, because I meant no disrespect at all. On the contrary, I felt I was celebrating the thing. Now I must be more mindful of what I share. I know that others close to me do read my blog posts, and they may have different feelings and reasons for reluctance about sharing certain things than I do. I do respect that, but I guess it means putting on some breaks occasionally. I have mixed feelings about this, to a degree, but I deep down know that’s right.
Just as I can be quite demonstrative and open in non-verbal ways and writing, I am also often free with what comes out of my mouth. Once here on WordPress I mentioned that a man called me “gabby” as a young girl. Well, there are times when I’m still plenty gabby as a middle-aged woman. But it’s funny, I can be quite extroverted and free speaking at times, or with certain people, and yet almost introverted at others. This occasional introversion is clearly more obvious when I speak. I have far more confidence and feeling of freedom writing. Sometimes, with some people, I have what my therapist says is a “performance anxiety”, so you know I’m not a very enthusiastic public speaker. I’m much more confident one-on-one, or with small familiar groups.
When I meet new people, particularly women, I can sometimes (not always) be very measured in my speech. This does depend, of course, on my mood state. When I’m hypomanic or manic anything goes. I’m the star of the show. When I’m stable, anxious, and/or depressed, I can be shy/quiet. But if I get to know someone and feel some trust for them I open up fully. I think that even when I’m stable I’m enthusiastic and outgoing in these cases. With them you might hear me telling jokes, teasing, flirting, and giving hugs and kisses freely.
My personal analysis
So why the difference sometimes between my openness in writing vs. speaking? Maybe because when I write, I have a barrier that separates me from the person(s). A figurative wall to hide behind. The ability to turn off the computer. The ability to delete what was said, or send another communication that is far more measured to counteract any damage done. That’s my guess. Also, when face to face with someone you immediately see their reactions. The pain of a rejection hits you in a millisecond and you’re forced to respond immediately. Knowing that my non-verbal communication can’t hide my fear or discomfort can be disconcerting. Fear of an awkward silence while thinking how to repair damage is intimidating. So is freezing up. This is something that is mostly only an issue when stable, anxious or depressed. When hypomanic or manic, fear, embarrassment, and regret are either non-existent or quite delayed.
My conclusion is that when writing I am always quite open, no matter what mood state. Otherwise it varies by mood state.