Situational vs. Bipolar Emotions

Okay, the response to my last post (and the one previous, in a way) has been such that I feel like a post might be devoted to dealing with emotions caused by situations vs. those that are caused by bipolar disorder.  Thank you, Anita, DeeDee, CarlaRenee, and Ekr.

Although I am no professional, many of the people I know that have mood disorders deal with this one.  I think that our responses to a specific situation draw on many things.  There’s our history, our thought processes, our disorder, and the situation in and of itself, just to start.  I think the best way for me to look at this and try to get a handle on it is to dissect one particular aspect of my coworker’s behavior and why it upsets me as much as it does.

So F, who I told you last week went off on me about being in her business when I said something to her about the way she spoke to a coworker, L, is not speaking to me.  I did not speak to her last week after the whole situation blew up because I figured she needed to calm down.  But it’s Tuesday.  She has not apologized and she is still making quite the effort to make sure I know she isn’t talking to me.  (Oddly enough, the one interaction I heard between her and L was much more cordial.)  This evening, as she was getting ready to go home, she dumped a large stack of documents on the table behond me.  I have asked in the past that they let me know when they are putting something there.  Since I face away from that desk, I might not neccesarily notice something back there.  And I have missed them before.  So, when I heard her drop the documents onto the desk (loudly), I turned around.  She was talking to one of our coworkers, P.  I took my headphones off and asked her if she had said something to me.  In a very curt tone of voice she said, “I wasn’t talking to you.”  Trying to be a good coworker, I ignored her rudeness and asked, “So are those for me?” pointing to the stack of paperwork.  She reiterated that she wasn’t talking to me.  P said that F had been talking to her.  So I asked again whether the documents were for me.  At which point she said yes.  She then left for the day.

So why am I so pissed off?  I mean…I really want to take the paperwork, shred it, and pour it all over her desk.  Or pour red paint all over her shit.  Or cut the heels off her favorite pair of shoes (that would probably be most effective; M & F are both shoe whores).  I’m not going to do these things, but I want to.

First of all, I am mad she hasn’t apologized.  In my mind, going off on a coworker in front of the entire crew demands a public apology.  I would take a private one, though.  So that is a combination of the situation and differing thought processes.  I think she should apologize and she doesn’t.  She may even think I owe her an apology, I don’t know.

Second, I am mad that she doesn’t feel she should apologize because I feel this shows a complete lack of respect for me as a coworker.  (Slightly different than the previous reason.)  This is not the first time she has made me feel as though she has no respect for me.  That aspect would be situational or even relational.  It is also an interpretation on my part.  That aspect would go back to the way I think being different than others.

I am also mad that she seems to be dragging out a situation that took place almost a week ago.  I mean…get over it!  Even if I had been in her business (which I don’t think what I said was out of line, but whatever), we do have to work together.  She needs to grow up and get over herself so we can have a functioning relationship.  I know this is situational, and the way I think being different than her thinking.  She obviously thinks that either, we have a functioning relationship, or our working relationship isn’t important.

The last thing that makes me mad is situational and it is also partly my history.  Her behavior is very dismissive toward me.  She doesn’t need to apologize or do any of the other things I believe are the right thing because my job, my opinion, and, honestly, I do not matter.  AT ALL.  And that makes me angry because that is better than allowing it to hurt me.  I don’t expect to matter to everyone in my life, but I freaking work with her.  My existence has to have some sort of impact on her.  Doesn’t it?

And I think this is where the bipolar takes over.  You see, all of this comes down to me feeling like I don’t matter in this world, not just to this person, but to anyone, anywhere.  And that leap, from one person to the entire world…that’s where I think the bipolar comes in (or any other mental illness) and my emotions explode.  So a justified anger at a coworker for treating me badly becomes this huge red haze effecting my relationships with everyone around me.  Granted I have been functional to this point, but it does concern me.  I also worry about getting bitter at this rate.  Bitterness, to me, is simply distilled anger and cynicism.  IF my meds can kick in and take the edge off the extreme anger, then I think I might be able to deal better with the situational component.  As for the thinking process being different, I am not really sure what to do about that one.  I try very hard to be aware of when my thoughts and ideas don’t match with the people around me.  I may not agree with theirs, but I try to accept our differences.  Sadly most do not have the same courtesy. (Yes, I know that is a generalization and quite cynical.)

So changing/correcting my meds isn’t going to make this go away since much of it is situational, but it might make it easier to cope if my level of anger is lessened.  I also think that I need to accept that, regardless of the differences between us, I have every right in the world to be mad at her.  I think at least part of this is worsened by my thinking that it is wrong or bad for me to be angry on the first place.  So then I get mad at myself for being mad.  I know.  That’s helpful, right?

So…while I wait for the medication to kick in, I just need to forgive myself for being angry and accept there is nothing that I can do to change her behavior.  I think I can make it through all of this if I keep those thoughts in mind.

As for the initial issue of situational vs bipolar emotions, I think of my bipolar as an exponent.  I have a situational feeling of happiness of a 7 (scale of 1-10) with a bipolar exponent of +2 when I am hypomanic (which means it goes from a 7 to a 49), and if I am depressed, the bipolar exponent is -2 (which goes from a 7 to 1/49 or .02).  The reverse would be true with a feeling of sadness.  Other emotions might be a bit more unpredictable as to whether there is an increase or decrease.  So my situational feeling can be increased or decreased by the bipolar disorder, but it doesn’t prevent the initial feeling.  I do think that it makes it incredibly hard, when I am depressed, to determine any feelings at all.  Which is why sometimes I feel like a wasteland lacking emotion at all.  I can be depressed (in my mind) without being horribly sad.  I just have a lot of other negative emotions going on.

What do y’all think?


~ by theartistryofthebipolarbrain on March 13, 2012.

14 Responses to “Situational vs. Bipolar Emotions”

  1. I like your exponent description 🙂

  2. I can’t imagine how much inner strength it takes to deal with such extremes and I’m in awe at your insight into yourself.

    FWIW I think you have ever right to be angry at your coworker, but…the anger isn’t going to change the situation (which I’m sure you’re more than aware) as it sounds like she doesn’t care. And TBH the still not talking thing is very childish. It’s like she wants to punish you for daring to not go along with what she was saying/how she was saying it. I’ve found though, that for certain people it is all about them. They are the injured party, and unless you come crawling back they will attempt to punish you. So I let them play their petty games and I just go about my day. Because they will never admit that they are in the wrong, and I refuse to waste my energy on them. (Saying it is one thing, I’m still working on the doing 🙂

    Good luck! *hugs*

    • Thank you! I do know that her life is all about her. Since I can’t seem to get these two particular coworkers to grow up, I guess I will have to figure out how to work with infants. I do know that being angry at them is a waste of energy.

  3. Yeah while reading this post, I had a thought. When you said you feel like you don’t matter, you need to counteract that by reminding yourself that in reality, F & L and whoever else are the ones who shouldn’t matter. I think if you could turn that anger into aloofness. At least an appearence that you don’t give a rats ass about their opinion of you. Give them a look like “yeah you are amusing, NOT” and go about your business. Don’t try to be nice but don’t act like you are holding a grudge either. See that is how the game is played. She will punish you as long as she thinks you are affected in any way by her behavior. When you no longer care… she will stop with the attitude. I think you should try that at least. I hope the best. You are doing better than I would have sweety 😉 hugs

  4. I like the exponential growth/decay explanation too! Very nice. I think that gets at it quite nicely. I know my every little irritation blows out of proportion when I’m even the tiniest bit hypomanic. And lately, I’m irritated with freaking everything. Some of that’s stress too, no doubt.

    Well, all we can do is be aware of the situation and try to react as appropriately as we can, right?

    • Thank you for the compliment! I didn’t know what I was going to say going in, but I do think the exponent description is the best I have come up with. And I just wish others were even half as aware as those that are or have been in therapy.

  5. As well as I know you can say with certainty that your co-worker is an unmitigated ass. Even when you’re in the dumps (situationally or brain-chemistry-wise) you’re at LEAST polite. So screw her.

    I’ve said this before: you’re amazingly self-aware. Your ability to parse out situations and see the pieces floors me every time.

    FWIW, your reactions seem absolutely logical. She’s being a bitch, and work should be done without drama, and if she’s creating a hostile work environment, treat it as such with your supervisor. No one need work is a stew of ugly.

  6. It’s funny, these are the very same kind of issues I find so challenging at work. I get very angry too. I’m not very good at handling anger and tend to cry a lot!

  7. I think she’s a horribly mean old hag that needs to get off her high horse and brought down a few pegs. Too bad murder is so hard to get away with. I’m in a bad place right now and she seems like as good a target as any for my particular form of wrathful vengeance. You’re perfectly fine to expect her to be a normal human being without her brand of stupidity. She’s the screwed up one. I agree with the above, talk to your supervisor. He’s a good guy. It’s work drama and it’s girl drama so he might not want to touch it but it’s his job to make sure that the work environment works for everyone. Personalities clash, we both know that, but ADULTS can get over that and move on for the good of the work environment. Hopefully we will be in a place soon where you wont have to deal with the likes of her again. One bonus for the crap that’s going on in my own life- you’ll have a place with us sooner. If you want it. Though it will be smaller than we were hoping. I’m still in an angry/hurt state so I need to get off the computer, go get showered and start moving on what needs to be done today. Which is honestly a whole f*cking lot of stuff that I don’t want to do but NEEDS to be done. Hugs. Loves you.

    • *HUGS* You know I am here for you.

      As for this (as Dash put it) stew of ugly, I am still debating going to my boss. Just not sure how much help it will be since she might just get angrier and more vindictive. Right now, she is making sure I know she isn’t talking to me, but she isn’t trying to make my life hell. Since she is above me in the hierarchy (but not my boss in any way), she has that ability.

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