Bipolar disorder is tough to live with. Your emotions are always on high alert. You never know what going to set them off. Bad news, national or personal, has the potential to kick off a deep depression. Good news can make you more than happy—mania lurks around the corner in every good day.
Even though I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 35, I can see how symptoms manifested in classic fashion late in my teen years, especially my first semester in college —the typical age of onset. Now that I think on it, I think I had my first manic episode much younger than I originally thought. I think I had a manic run when we returned to school for third grade from summer vacation. I had been popular in kindergarten, first, and second grades and was already involved in activities our small town had to offer like cheerleading camps and Girl Scouts. I won AHS Miss Mini-Cheerleader and Halloween Queen in first grade and was already the first child identified in the county for the gifted program in second grade, newly begun for children with high IQ’s by the federal government.
I had discovered boys in second grade much earlier than most of my friends, calling a fellow named Gerald “my boyfriend” and once defending him against a guy trying to beat him up. I dragged him off of Gerald and pushed him to the ground. My teacher did not believe I had done it until I admitted to it when confronted.
But I took it to a whole new level in third grade. I suddenly became one of the “kissy girls”.
You know the “kissy girls”. They’re the ones that chase the boys around on the playground trying to kiss them. They usually run in packs and usually manifest around fourth grade or so. But I was all by myself, and all I wanted to do was catch a boy and kiss him on the cheek. And it didn’t really matter much which boy it was.
But my morphing into a “kissy girl” put an end to my popularity. Thus began the era of my being “weird”. The boys were scared of me, and the girls thought I was gross. I found all kinds of ways to misbehave around boys, trying to get their attention. I mostly limited my activities to boys my age, but word got around pretty quickly, and I soon became a person to avoid.
I got over the “kissy girl” stage quickly, returning to my normal self after Christmas, but no one forgot about it over semester break. I became the object of teasing, bullying, and rejection when it came time for birthday parties and sleepovers unless the other girls’ mothers forced them to invite me.