“There is a silence where hath been no sound.
There is a silence where no sound may be—
in the cold grave, under the deep deep sea.”
— From Thomas Hood’s poem “Silence”

This is the first of a multipart series on “Bipolar Irritability,” a descriptor I am using to refer to a deadly cocktail of depression, anxiety, and agitation. The video clip attempts to convey what it is like to experience this combination, primarily through sound. Some viewers won’t understand terminology or why this mood is hellish and important, so I’ve added a beginner’s primer to mixed mood states and the result of combining depression and anxiety.

UntamedMind.com is publishing a three-part series entitled “Bipolar irritability — The mood from HELL.” Part 1 is an explanation of used to be called a “mixed episode,” similar to what is being called here “bipolar irritability. What a bipolar irritable mood entails and what a diagnosis of a mixed episode was, before the DSM change, is explained and a simple movie clip is used to illustrate what it feels like to be INSIDE of what they used to call a “mixed state,” (manic and depressed at the same time). Part 2 is a short collage of music and images describing the experience of bipolar irritability in artistic fashion. Objectively speaking, it is pretty cool. Part 3 reminds us in humorous tones how, although we are genuinely intimidating in our bipolar irritability and wrath, let’s get over ourselves.

This is the first of two posts about the myth of Skylla and Charybdris. In this first post the myth itself is detailed, with many beautiful illustrations. The second post will explore what lessons this myth can teach us about living with bipolar disorder. What do we do when faced with what seems to be a forced choice between two dangerous outcomes — the dilemma in which Odysseus was placed on his long journey home. As Odysseus asks Circe, “Come then, goddess, answer me truthfully this: is there some way for me /to escape away from deadly Charybdis, but yet fight the other one off, when she attacks my companions?”

When I am moderately to severely depressed, my brain is mushy enough that I have trouble remembering how to take care of myself. So I keep a list on hand to remind myself what to do when I’m in trouble. When I’ve done everything I can, then I cry uncle and ask for drugs, but before that point I need to rely on these antidepressants. 

Looking for images for the last post, I stumbled upon these two works in the same series, “In Silence,” by Chiharu Shiota. The fiery self-destructiveness of mania and the deadened, isolated experience of depression are skillfully evoked by these images.

It is daunting to try and talk about experiences that cannot be put into words. There are many parts of the experiences of mania and depression that are impossible to describe accurately or in a way that can jump across the interpersonal void to someone who has not experienced it themselves. What is it like to have lightning course through your veins? To be caught in the timeless, hopeless, prison of depression. Or more practically, how can we describe the ripple effect that bipolar disorder has through all aspects of a person’s life and throughout their lifetime? It is good to remember that the task set forth in this webpage is fundamentally impossible but worthwhile nonetheless.