I used to think I was an extrovert.
I was boisterous, loud and fun. I liked to be the life of the party, winding everyone up so that they had fun. I loved that, making people happy. It’s a skill, being an extrovert. You have to know how much to let out for your particular audience, how much weird you can inject. I like to think I was good at that.
I would take on projects big and small, taking the lead if necessary. It could be as small as planning a birthday party for the Bear or as big as a kid’s Christmas party for my former company (200+ kids and parents). I lived for the social stage and personal interactions.
I was always making jokes or pulling pranks.
Knowing what I know now about my disorder, I can look back and reasonably state that a lot of these memories are due to hypomanic episodes. Sure some of them could be chalked up to just feeling stable and normal but the majority of them I can distinctly remember being super energized and like I could take on the world. DO ALL THE THINGS!
More recently I felt like I had become an introvert. Was that a thing? Can you switch like that? Sometimes I make plans or commit to things with people, thinking I can do it but then I want to turn into a hermit that lives in a cabin in the woods, far from prying eyes. I break plans. I have short conversations saying no more than I have to. I probably have a glazed look on my face and smile and nod a lot. I’m sure to outsiders I seem cold and distant. To an extent I am. People-ing can be hard.
I know that my introvert phase turns on when I go through a depressive cycle. The last thing I want to do is be around people and I certainly don’t want to be doing large scale projects or social engagements. No thank you. With deepest regrets, I suddenly cannot attend. And it’s awful but sometimes I make up excuses just so that I don’t have to tell the truth; that I’m depressed and just barely hanging on. I can’t muster the effort to put on my happy mask.
Bipolar disorder lets you walk in both worlds, extrovert and introvert. It’s exhausting and I think it’s confusing to the people around you. According to my daughter I’m in a bad mood all the time as opposed to when she was younger and I was super mom, crafting and baking and cooking. I have to remind myself that those were different times and to not feel guilty because there will be periods of light and energy again. They just seem to be fewer and farther between.
The medication really reduces those hypomanias and leaves me with a lot less desire to take on projects and be creative and fun. Sometimes I wonder if the pills are worth it but then I have to remember the depression and how bad it gets. Sometimes it’s hard knowing that this is my reality, having two sides governed by the whims of my condition.
Today I’m an introvert.