Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I Am Bipolar.

I am bipolar. Specifically, I am bipolar-II.

I am built this way; I am designed this way.

It will not go away. There is no cure.

I do not want to be cured. (Well, most of the time.)

I have little control over it, but I bear the responsibility for my actions as a result of it.

I do not apologize for being the way I am, but I do wish to explain, to be understood.

I need help from my friends and family. I am too ashamed to ask for help from my friends and family. This makes me need help even more.

I speak before I can censor myself. I give too much information. My mind happens too fast for me to stop it.

I love being the center of attention, and it makes me uncomfortable. I want to congratulate myself for my work, but I become shy when someone else tries to congratulate me. I love finishing the show, but I hate the curtain call.

I worry, I worry, and then I worry about worrying. It sometimes feels as if my brain is a mass of hornets, angry that they can't get out of my skull.

I encounter the world violently and passionately. I love who I love with depth that saturates every cell of my body, with complete passion. I feel like I'm living poetry in a world of prose. How many actions most ridiculous have I been drawn to by my fantasy? In to a thousand, none of which I have forgotten.

I become impatient when the rest of the world doesn't move at my tempo. The rare moments when it does catch up feel like magic. When the people I am with move faster than I do, when they anticipate me, that's pure transportation.

I'm very big on ideas, not good with follow-through. I have hard drives and notebooks full of the beginnings of ideas, outlines and first chapters. I've been working on a musical for over a decade, and a new play for six years.

Sometimes my most extreme feelings come from nowhere. Sometimes they are triggered by something you say or do; this is not your fault. Sometimes they are triggered by getting a bad night's sleep. It's all a circle; worry will create a short night's sleep, which triggers a mood episode, which increases worry, which creates a short night's sleep, which deepens the mood episode, and on and on.

Sometimes you ask me if I want to do something and I say no, but I want to be convinced.

I make big mistakes, and no one can convince me it's a mistake until I learn it for myself. It isn't that I don't trust you, it's just that I don't trust you. I don't need to be told "I told you so," I need to be forgiven.

My brand of bipolar is not the same as everyone else's. In fact, mine is quite mild in comparison to many. I don't have problems with extreme addictions, substances, or suicidal thoughts; I don't gamble the company on delusional plans.

I can count the number of people in the world who "get me" on one hand and not need all the fingers. I'm not sure I'm on that hand yet. That is why I'm writing this.

I am bipolar. I am learning what it means.



  • At 7/18/2008 7:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    So THAT's what a mass of hornets-brain looks like...

  • At 7/18/2008 11:41 PM , Blogger Andrew Hamm said...

    If that's a heckle, I feel certain you can do better.


  • At 7/21/2008 4:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    So, how do you deal with the people who don't "get you"? Just curious, as someone who has a bipolar family member with many of the personality characteristics you describe.

  • At 7/22/2008 1:39 PM , Blogger Andrew Hamm said...

    Well, I've only known I was bipolar for a few months. I used to deal with them with a lot of impatience and frustration, and I was probably pretty insufferable. I've spent much of my life generally convinced that I was substantially smarter and more gifted than everyone else around me. It turns out hypomania speeds things up, and bipolar-II is often associated with artistic talent, but it invariably also causes feelings of grandeur and overconfidence. Welcome to me.

    I'm learning to have a lot more self-awareness and mercy.

  • At 8/08/2008 6:42 PM , Blogger FlatironsFever said...

    hey Andy:

    i buy it... makes sense now.... you go, man. glad to find you (finally, after all this time) through Hope Corizzo and the magic of facebook.

    Best to you... we should talk sometime :)

    Rob Leary


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