bipolar marrying bipolar people

October 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

i’ve been thinking about this a lot since my partner and i are considering having a child. i really want another child, but i’m terrified by the prospect of what his genes and mine together might produce. something like a 27% chance of the child having bipolar, and an increased risk as well for schizophrenia and autism. i love my life and i don’t regret being alive or being brought into the world. i wouldn’t say that suffering has outweighed meaning or purpose or creativity or joy or beauty. and i don’t believe for a second that people like me, like us, shouldn’t be in the world. but i worry about knowingly handing my child the suffering of suicidal depression, the chaos of mania, the disabling dread of anxiety, the terror of psychosis.

anyway, thinking about that has got me wondering whether bipolar people attract each other, and what the nature of that attraction is.  it’s not just g. the people i gravitate to and feel most comfortable with and like best are intense like me, passionate like me, unstable like me–that word sounds pejorative, but i mean only that i/we cycle in and out of episodes of intense emotion. my partner and two of my closest friends. no, three. i do have one or two friends who are stable. but far fewer than the unstable, intense ones. even my closest childhood friend, now that i think about it. she had depression at an early age, which at the time i felt was a difference between us. she saw me, and i in fact saw myself, at least until adolescence, as healthy and normal and adjusted. only now, in long hindsight, i see that we were actually quite similar. like her, i had symptoms at an early age, panic attacks from the age of four or five. but they were infrequent enough in my childhood that i didn’t recognize them as prodromal symptoms until much later, after a more fullblown pattern of panic and depression and mania emerged over the course of a lifetime. even as a kid, though,  i sensed that there was something different or strange about me. the intensity and incomprehensibility of the spells that came over me.

my boss, too, is high energy, intense, brilliant. i liked him right away. i’m embarrassed to say it since he’s my boss, but i loved him right away.

you could say that this kind of affinity develops because people like us understand each other. but there’s something else to it–a kind of recognition that precedes understanding. something physical and preconscious. some kind of a spark or gravitational pull,  something on the level of the energetic or electromagnetic. the field disturbance or higher frequency that is my bodymind recognizing the field disturbance or higher frequency of the other. there’s an embodied immediacy to this recognition. we like each other right away–or i like them right away, though i’m pretty sure the recognition and immediacy is mutual. i love them right away, with a sincerity and intensity that has always kinda scared me.

i read something online, someone’s psychiatrist saying that if there were 100 people in a room, somehow the bipolars would find each other.

to the degree i’ve been thinking about these things, i’ve wondered if this affinity even extends to very distant, mediated kinds of relationships. for example, michael angelakos from passion pit is bipolar and publicly so, as an advocate. his album ‘manners’ is one of my favorites of all time–i listened to it obsessively as i was falling in love with g and at the same time coming apart during my first manic (or hypomanic, i don’t know) episode. when i listen to it even now i remember how desperately beautiful it was at the time. angelakos’s ecstatic falsetto over the furious frenetic oscillation of treble synths, the glittering of music box samples, a waterfall of lush electronic harps. i would walk the streets of my neighborhood at night, insomniac and short of breath and totally high, listening to ‘manners.’ it was too good, so good i couldn’t take it. even now, that experience is almost totally indescribable. amazing and terrifying. i thought i would break down irreversibly from the stress of the white light, the vast electricity, the powerful energy pouring into and through me. i thought i would never come back from it, that i would become incapable of holding a job or parenting. that my child would be taken from me.

granted, passion pit is popular generally–but i wonder now if something in his experience spoke particularly to mine.

recently i read that angelakos is divorcing his wife who once tackled him to the floor when he tried to jump out of a window. my heart hurts for both of them. i know what it’s like to be him; i know what it’s like to be his wife.

so, passion pit:


You come beating like moth’s wings
Spastic and bodily
Whipping me into a storm
Shaking me down to the floor

But you run away from me
And you’ve left me shimmering
Like diamond wedding rings
Spinning dizzily down on the floor


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