Parenting While Manic

For a good long while I’ve been prone to manic behavior. It’s been something that’s just been a part of who I was. The first time I remember being this way was shortly after my parents split. I was at my dad’s and sitting up in the top bunk reading. It was just me and him. My dad came in, asked me if I wanted to go play putt-putt. Now, before I continue with what happened, I want you to know that putt-putt was one of my favorite things in the world. Hell, it probably still is but no one wants to go when you’re in your 30’s. So, anyways, my dad asks me and I explode. Inside, I want to tell him I want to go. I want to go so badly, it’s all I want out of life. But that part of me can’t speak. Instead, I start ripping apart my bed. Tearing sheets off, throwing pillows, ripping apart my book, and, of course, screaming no. That’s my first memory of manic behavior.

After that, there were many instances. If I couldn’t find something, I’d write it off as either stolen or lost, buying a new one in a fit of anger. I had a ton when I used to date this girl, April. She pushed every button I had and I’ll be damned if there’s any door in the condo that doesn’t have a damaged door to this day because of the episodes where I was so confused and so lost I just had to break something.

Now I’m a lot better with it. I still have them, but they’re a little less and, over time, I found it was better to stop damaging things around me and primarily damage myself. Not really my choice, but it works well. Especially now that I have kids.

It’s hard though. For example, I was trying to make food for my oldest son. While doing that, I was going to make myself dinner as well. But then everyone was in the kitchen, everyone was doing stuff around me and the next thing I knew, I felt an episode coming on. And it was a doozy.

My first instinct was to immediately walk away. And I did. I went into an isolated room and tried to breathe and get control of myself. I couldn’t though. Things were getting louder and my son needed to Earth. So suddenly my brain did what I call a “manic compromise”. It’s sort of like when you build up your special meter in Street Fighter on one big attack that depletes the entire reserve of energy. In this case, my mind said, “Alright, since he’s already eating his food and you didn’t get a chance to make dinner, you’re not going to eat anything for the rest of the night.”

It works. Kind of. It replaces that frustration, panic, and angry and just replaces it with good old fashion gut pain from being hungry and deep deep depression. I can deal with those a lot better. But even now that I’m sitting here, able to put my thoughts into words and be calm, I know I can’t eat because if I eat I’ll have violated the rule and it will make me sick in my stomach because I’m not supposed to. My wife’s asking me if she can please make me something while I write this and I keep telling her no. Honestly, if she made it? I’d probably eat it. I’m hungry enough to try and I really didn’t have breakfast or lunch either. But I can’t tell her. I’m completely incapable of agreeing to it because it goes against the deal I made with my brain.

Then there’s some nights where if I have homework due I’ll completely throw the shit away if my son won’t go to sleep by 10:30PM. My homework’s due by midnight, and even if I know I can get an important assignment done in like…maybe 15 minutes, I’ll just give up on it because he didn’t go to sleep by the time my mind designated was sit down homework time. Last week I straight up just turned in nothing for an assignment because of this. Given, it was only 4% of the class’s grade, but still.

This is the best I can get a handle on it and, if you knew me when it started, you’d know I made progress. But yeah. I don’t have any solutions for other manic parents other than deep breathing, but keep it together if you got it. You’re not alone.

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