Poetic Journey in Personal Discovery

To Be Understood…

bp collages

I seek to be understood, and I seek to understand

Knowing judgments fly and misconceptions dominate without information

If I let you into my world will you let me into yours

Our realities, while different, are threads upon the same tapestry, sounds of the same chord

The notion of a place within one’s mind lacking typical restraint

A locale confined to a personal, unwelcomed realm of confusion, reality-estranged

Where night and day become blurred into one, and pure exhaustion takes over

Physically spent but mentally on fire, even if desired the mind won’t let sleep flow

Spinning thoughts, rational in their lack of true clarity, seeking to tell the world what I think I know

Motivated to impact change and impart the ideas and “wisdom” my mind has shown

Writing furiously to let the escaping thoughts anchor in a home before they are lost forever

Solutions to universal problems, goals and aspirations, remembrances which won’t sever

If only others could hear through my rapid speech, what it is I’m trying to say

I try to turn the noise off… try and stop the buzzing in my head, but it does not go away

All feelings of usual self-consciousness disappear and confidence supersedes

There exists a freedom I normally lack, and don’t we all want to be free?

Senses heightened… aromas are dramatically enhanced; feelings of touch intensify

If I could bottle up hypomania and utilize it at will, I’d know a constant high

But the “happy” episode is short-lived…


If I transition to full mania, it’s no longer fun or exciting; twisted staircases abound

I know not what will be around the corner; I walk with fear, not wanting to be found

The thoughts are no longer prophetic in their intrusive insistence

I’m more out of control now without much strength for resistance

Shadows lurk and come alive in my sight and it’s hard to know what is real

The internal dialogue is now frightening chatter, striking hostile deals

There is no escape while breathing, a message expounded by a cruel reality

Each moment is a fight for life, plagued with the torment of my own heart beat

I want to sleep now; it’s no longer fun to be awake

Yet upon my island of horrors I’m forced to sit with mere dreams of safe escape

I await the conclusion of another unharnessed roller coaster experience

The desire to just get high at this point is insidious

To make it stop, to pause the chaos enslaving me on the inside

Medications adjustments sometimes help, but time seems to be my only ally

I simply must survive…


When I think It’s over, and it actually is sometimes

I often slip into a depression which further seeks my demise

Maybe it’s just the trauma of the hallucinations and lack of substantial sleep

The regretful things I may have said and done when the mania had a full hold of me

But the crash is violent and hard to bare; I’d rather the darkness of maximized mania reign

I can’t get horizontal enough, or sufficiently sustain sleep to make the world go away

The thought of movement is paralyzing, covers provide the illusion of safety

Tears from red and swollen eyes fall relentlessly

Open, shut, awake or asleep… I cannot part company with me

Thoughts of ceasing to exist creep in, as in the product of a full grown manic seed

I hate the sorrow-filled darkness the most…


It’s the extremes I fight to push through, if I can just survive the hostile moments

The storm eventually clears and I again know the sunlight after the torment

I am fortunate to have people who love me offering protection and safety

I know without their strength the monster would devour me

I have never had thoughts of harming others; I plot no dangerous, harmful schemes

I live peaceably among the world, I have hopes and I have dreams

I did not ask for this illness, and wish it were not so

I accept it as part of me, and while sometimes hard, I know I’m not alone

My heart is filled with love, yet I’m stigmatized; others ignore my good

All I seek is to understand, and to be understood

I was diagnosed with Bipolar I (one) back when I was 26, in 2001.  The struggle has been challenging- beginning with years of denial and non-compliance with treatment.  I did not want the label and all the negative beliefs that went with it.  I attempted suicide by overdose back in 2007 during a depressive episode… things were soooo dark- and darn that Coldplay!! LOL.  My substance abuse didn’t help any either.  The experience is not worthy of repeat- but it did lead me out of denial and into acceptance.  Acceptance is one of the greatest gifts in this life, in any circumstance.  I then became med-compliant and have been ever since.  Meds may not be the answer for everyone- but for me it has made a huge difference.

I volunteered for an organization called NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) for five years, until my illness, a move, and some others personal issues hindered my effectiveness.  My whole perspective on mental illness and the people living with the various diagnoses changed.  I met people living “normal” lives. Careers, families, interests, education- didn’t come across any of the “psycho” stereotypical, media enhanced, individuals at all.  Are there a percentage of people with mental illness who go “off” and harm others- of course- add substance abuse in the mix and it’s higher.  However, there are so many people who are not mentally ill that do the same.  We don’t base our understanding on facts and accurate stats- we tend to base them on visibility and fear.  Living with the stigma surrounding mental illness sucks- to be blunt.  What is “normal” anyways?  My first psych class in college, the professor asked everyone to write down on a piece of paper the definition of “normal” and pass them to the front.  He then read each definition… and not ONE was the same!

People will always think what they want, typically based on a lack of information- sometimes through no fault of their own- we get bred a certain way without even knowing it half the time.  I just wish people sought to understand in the same way they seek to be understood.

©E.D. Allee

September 16, 2013

Photos, drawing, collage: by me

Comments on: "To Be Understood…" (7)

  1. I have always thought bipolar is so much worse than depression alone as there is small comfort in the monotony of it. I can’t believe there is still stigma attached to mental illnesses. Even people I know who seem to be understanding of someone else’s depression will not admit to their own, as if it is some sort of weakness or personal failing. I agree with the sentiment that it would be nice if people tried to understand as much as they want to be understood. Really heartfelt post and beautifully written.

    • Thank you for your reply. You touch my heart. It is unfortunate that the stigma is as prevalent as it is. Stigma almost took me out if you think about it- I chose denial and non compliance with treatment because of the stigma- that I admittedly shared- and my degree is psychology – diagnosed post degree (while not psychiatry, I don’t think I got all I needed from my curriculum! LOLish). My beliefs about the mentally ill were based in fear and misunderstanding. Accepting the illness and seeking proper treatment saved my life, and there are so many people who hide their truth- even from themselves- out of fear. My heart and mind were softened over time, and I’m grateful that they were. People like you, open hearts and open minds, are a blessing! Thank you!

  2. Beautiful poem ma’am; unfathomably well written with an immense amount of passion on the content. I personally know very little about Bipolar, so cannot imagine what it is you are going through, but as a person who suffers depression, I completely agree with you about the stigma with regards to mental illness. Perhaps I’m being ignorant, but I often thought that mental illnesses in general, although common, were still somewhat in the minority; in Australia for instance I think 1 in 4 people (if you believe the statistics and I’m not sure I do) have a mental illness. Because of this, those who are, I guess, lucky enough not to have one may view such illnesses as obscure, and I sometimes wonder if this potentially negative bias may influence those who have the ability to investigate ways of permanently curing such illnesses not to do so.

    • I thank you for your reply. Depression is such a huge beast! I’d trade one depression for five manias (debatably I guess)… I’m sorry for your struggle. It’s hard for people to differentiate between “feeling low” and full-blown depression. It’s as if, although you can see light, you don’t believe it’s there- or if it is- you don’t believe you will ever know it again. It’s cruel and there is not much that can be said to convince you things aren’t as hopeless as they feel (I say “you” but can speak only for me).

      It’s funny- you say permanently fix the problem- my brain has a hard time wrapping itself around that- which probably means I should spend some time considering my lack of hope in that department. I have kind of subscribed to treatment only as the “fix”.

      I can’t really fault individuals who don’t understand mental illness better, and who still apply negative stigmas to their perception of people with mental illness. I find that the people who are sensitive to it have been affected by it, either personally or with someone they love. I just wish open-mindedness upon onlookers. It has a massive impact on people’s lives- and having to hide- as if it were some sort of shameful curse- is no way to live- and just adds to the feelings of isolation.

      I wish you success in managing your depression. Writing is such a great outlet, and you are good at it!

      • Trade one depression for five manias? Might depend on what they are, but that sounds almost acceptable. I too wish that sometimes open-mindedness was an availability to those who are either ignorant or have issues with those who suffer mental illness.
        With regards to the idea I brought up about permanently fixing mental illness, I agree with you that it seems difficult to fathom, and in all likelihood is quite impossible, but there are a couple of charities who often specify they are trying to raise money to build up an awareness, combat the illnesses and try to eventually find a cure. Hope sometimes is all that can sustain us, and although a cure may not be found this year, this decade or this century, maybe one day? The term ‘illness’ might hypothetically imply that a cure may one day be found as a great number of illnesses have been cured already.
        Thank you also for your kind words and I appreciate your compliment.
        I wish you luck in your own struggles ma’am. Take care!

  3. This is my favourite part as it says what I have been trying to say for years

    My heart is filled with love, yet I’m stigmatized; others ignore my good

    All I seek is to understand, and to be understood

    Which leads to the word NORMAL which I so desperately want…

    We are stigmatised if we suffer from bi polar… When the world accept us?

    This is my favourite poem !!!

    • Thanks you. This was a powerful poem for me too- it’s kind of painful to read… as some of my poems are. All we can do is live our lives the best we can, take care of ourselves, and prove to the world… one person at a time if need be, that we are just as “human” and therefore “normal” as they are. Normal is relative! We all have own particular brand of crazy!!!

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