Quote of the Day, Love: Oscar Wilde

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

Go ahead and search it up

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Amateur Shrink of the Day

  You would think that finding out that the guy who seemed perfect and then dumped you suddenly is mentally ill would make things seem a bit better. It wasn't your fault, he was just hypomanic and every year around October, seasonal affective disorder kicks in and boom there goes the depression. It doesn't make me feel much better, but just kind of sad.  I wondered for a long time how my judgment could have been so horribly wrong; I can usually spot a jerk from twenty yards away.  It is more difficult though when the jerk basically behaves as two different people depending upon the weather. (To make things easier, let's give the guy a name. How about Mr. Y.?) Looking back, I can see some smaller episodes; Y would break down into  sudden crying jags or sport generally pissy mood swings followed by incredible periods of maudlin self-pity which would disappear within hours and then he'd suggest caterers for our wedding reception.
  Here's the scoop: falling in love looks pretty similar to a hypomanic episode. First of all, the idea that you have beaten the odds and found a great person who feels the same as you do makes a girl feel like she's won the lottery. It doesn't seem so strange that he discusses marriage and children after six weeks because you are both so happy and there is no reason to wait around. Right?  Try to remember that period when you first fall in love, don't you feel indestructible? As though you could conquer the world with only a gesture? As though God him (or her) self has turned the sun's warmth towards you after a very long metaphorical winter? Nope, it turns out that the guy you are dating is just crazy. He's done the same thing before and he'll do it again. 
(edit) I wouldn't be at all surprised if he had some new great love. After all, it was a pretty mild winter. (edit) A friend of a friend has told me that he has a new victim for this year. Again, she is the one etc. You would think by age 39, that this guy would understand destructive patterns. Yeesh.

The only thing he does differently is find women with different coloring; it's like his own Benneton poster of multi-cultural women. (As if changing cultures will cure mental illness and a -holishness).My guess would be that he's trying to hook up with an East Indian or someone from the Middle East. Oh and he'll dig them more if they're virgins and then insult them because of their beliefs. If you know a single woman doctor that is dating a guy whose chief claim to fame is being able to Charleston, you may want to give her a heads up. I sure as hell wish someone would have done so for me. When I met his family, it was as though they wanted to tell me something, but they couldn't. I understand the whole thing now. I wonder what they'll do with the new victim?
He also has a thing for doctors which again is ironic because if they have been in an elementary psych rotation, she should be able to spot it.



 Though all of us have been guilty of being in love with the idea of love at some point, we usually figure out the difference between the real thing and the concept pretty early on. The best lie is one you believe yourself and I, for one was fooled. I'm not alone in this at least, and again, that should make me feel better about my ability to figure people out. But, it doesn't: instead I just feel horrible for whoever Miss Y 2011, 2012, and so on will be. s and Miss Y 2006-9 were.  I wish sometimes that people had a holographic billboard that flashes "warning! There should be a scarlet letter J for jerk tattooed on the forehead of  (male and female) people who flat-out should not date, (or at least not until they get some issues squared away.)
 Crazy does not give you the right to be an ahole.
The problem remains that if I say that Y was a jerk, I seem insensitive to his illness. And if I chalk it up to mania, he ends up possessing no free will; and I don't think this is the case. Maybe he just now figured out that he has it and has not yet made the fairly simple deduction that he does the same destructive mating dance every spring and the same train wreck every fall. Before you deem me a monster though, read this.
·  . A few months ago, he wrote me a note telling me that he was taking a particular psych medicine. I looked it up and found out that it can only be prescribed if at least one other medicine for bipolar disorder has been tried and did not work. Therefore, he was aware of this problem and did not tell me, or any of the other Miss Ys for that matter. That omission left all of us wondering what we did wrong and why we didn't spot his obvious issues. How a person could go from wanting to marrying you and planning the reception for the next Spring to coldly slapping labels like, "needy, cold, talkative, too shy, too sheltered, or jaded," on us IF we can cook and want a family, we are ignorant peasants and if we are smart, we are cold and ugly. 
And in the grand tradition of self-unaware cookware everywhere, dubbing us as depressed or confused as to where the relationship was going.  In other words, Y could have gone out with Miss America 2003 who has her PhD in quantum physics and a masters in medieval Islamic poetry, is a chef, still competes in gymnastics, earns a million dollars a year, runs three charities to help the poorest and sickest people, likes animals and children, wants nothing from him except occasional sex and an intellectual conversation, (after which she'll go and sleep in her own bed,), and who agrees with him about everything, would still not be good enough. Her teeth would be too perfect or she wouldn't spend enough or did spend too much time with him. I thought the crazy notice would make me feel better and I am disturbed to find some real resentment and anger building up. Here's the deal: having an illness, be it diabetes, depression, or the flu, does not give a person the right to be a jerk or toy with other people's time and affection.  Being horrid knows no boundaries of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, health, mental state, or season. The whole situation becomes even worse because it is possible that Y is so self-deluded that he believes the tripe he spews and still hasn't made the connection between his disorder and what he decries as his, "miserable luck finding the right woman,” because as he says, "they just aren't good enough."  Following this theory to its logical end means that statistically some people with bipolar disorder will be aholes. So will some clowns, some people who love to eat Doritos, some people with narrow feet, and etc.  I'm left unable to do anything with this new information. I feel it's my duty to the single female community, but trying to tell him about it would not only be futile, but also embarrassing. He would definitely interpret such a conversation as the workings of a desperate woman who cannot get over no longer being near his glowing perfection. And, he'd still be no closer to understanding or trying to change. As a thoroughly imperfect human being myself, I know how difficult it can be to change when the problem is clear.
To fumble around for the greater part of a decade in a kind of sisyphusian romantic loop is punishment enough. Still, I'll be honest, after reading some of the posts he wrote about me and the other Miss Y's of years past; I think I would be entirely justified in slapping him in the face just once. One slap for all of the decent women he strung along and left bewildered and wondering if they were crazy. One. Really hard. Slap!

  I wouldn't wish any kind of illness on anyone, but mental illnesses seem to me to be a special kind of hell. First of all, there is still a social stigma towards those who suffer. Though people rarely ever say so aloud, I think many still believe that the person dealing with a mental illness is somehow morally less capable.  One of the last bastions of socially acceptable prejudice is calling someone crazy. That word alone means that anything he or she says or anything he or she does can be discounted and ignored. No further argument is needed; just say crazy. After dealing with chronic pain for a decade, I have run into this line of thinking too. It is impossible to know precisely what another person's mental or physical pain feels like. So, when someone tells me they are in pain, I believe them and take them seriously. People can understand pain if the cause is obvious; let's say you have a broken leg and have orthopedic pins sticking out of it. That would be clearly painful right? You wouldn't tell the patient to toughen up and to work harder would you?  Still people see mental illness not as a complex mixture of circumstance, behavior and brain chemistry but rather as a moral weakness or perhaps a sign of not having the grace of God on your side and the sick don't.  It is easier to judge and label than to understand. Perhaps this stigma was so great that Y never tells women he falls for; he assumes that they will run. To be fair, many would. I think I would have. I looked up the medicine he said he was taking online and it is only prescribed after other bipolar meds have failed. That says he knew about it and chose not to take his meds. Every spring, he'll convince himself that he has changed through some series of exercise, diet, WoW, and talking to other dregs of society online and his profile will boast about his intelligence and gentlemanly ways. He will claim to love children and animals and his desire to find the one and get married. And the world is just lonely enough, that a few women will respond. He becomes a poisonous flower, blooming every spring and as it dies in the fall, it drags the whole garden down with it.
Looking into my crystal ball, I can see him repeating the same thing for many years. Finally, no women will go out with him because the word has gotten around and let's face it a 40 year old guy who still wants to date 25 year olds, that's creepy.  On that warm summer day, when he sits alone at the park and sees one of his summer women happily married and pushing a stroller, it will come to him that even though the mania may  difficult to control; his treatment of women was not. And as he goes home to a tiny condo with sparse furnishings except for the cold ghostly blue gray light from his computer, he will sit down and weep. And after a few minutes, he'll reactivate his account on every online dating site believing that women will flock to him and if they don't that he's too sexy for his cat and shirt anyway. He'll go on believing that in the past he has just had bad luck... believing that an inordinately large percentage of substandard females was sent his way over the years. He'll hit 40 and then 45, the paunch will become more substantial, being called long-term single and socially awkward will turn to the phrase weird hermit old guy. All I can hope is that in the coming years, his family or few friends who have seen this cruel pattern repeated will give the next girl a head's up.  And yet, he is still confident about finding the one. I guess he has one thing on me, either a great reserve of hope, or a great reserve of powerful delusion.

  "Hypomania, a less severe form of mania. People in a hypomanic episode may feel very upbeat, energetic and productive. To others they may just seem to be in a really good mood. This state usually can't be maintained for long. It either escalates into mania or crashes into depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder: A mood disorder often associated with depression. Can also be a symptom of bipolar disorder I. The patient will cycle in a hypomanic episode during the warmer months. This behavior may seem like confidence, happiness, or enthusiasm to others, but it is indeed hypomania. Patients repeat the same cycle every year as the seasons change. " (Wikepedia, Bipolar I and SAD)


Anonymous said...

Love the unaware cookware!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this katie. I know it's kind of sad, but the way you write, it is also pretty funny. Dude, thank goodness you got out of there. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

You are right, many people still believe that mental illness is somehow a sign of weak character, akin to let's say being rude to waiters. Thanks for pointing this out Katie.