Fallibility of memory

One of the confusing things about Bipolar Condition is our inability to see nuances. Everything is black or white with very few subtleties. It’s hard on those around us even though, once aware of it, we try to spare people the worst of our knee-jerk reactions.

My childhood playground
My childhood playground

It’s most obvious (to me anyway) with my perception of past situations. Life is compartmentalized into good/bad, best of times/worst of times. Anyone wonder if Dickens was Bipolar? Only this morning, chatting to Badger, I realized that I’d done this and had to put on my pith helmet to hack my way back into my youth and start unearthing anomalies. After over forty years an adult, I’m used to looking at my childhood with that golden glow of “idealized past” and it came as a shock to start the archaeological dig and remember that although I had wonderful friends and was privileged enough to grow up in a gorgeous setting, my home-life was appalling. Even though the house, above, was a minor palace. Somehow I’d kept the pretty box but looking inside was a shock. Hmm.. might have to learn a bit of grey to get more perspective on things.

With a checkered job history like mine it goes good, bad, good, good, worst ever, amazing… so I had to do the same again. Surprise again. Even the one that had sat on a shelf marked “dreadful” was a mine of fantastic experiences when I looked into the file more closely. Yes, working at a zoo was a very bad life-choice for an animal activist even if my motives were to change things from within. Had I not done that job I would never have met my beloved Ragar, my raven, could never have learned falconry or ended up with a Goffin’s Cockatoo hanging off my ear like jewelry, blood spurting everywhere and muttering obscenities over the throat mike. All material for the memoirs!

Every day is a learning opportunity for all of us, but for us, the Bippies, the mixed-up, the dented-memory-box folks, some days are a better school-day than others!

Goffin's with earring pretentions.
Goffin’s with earring pretensions.


15 thoughts on “Fallibility of memory

  1. I have so many wnderful bipolar friends and I’m starting to think that although there are problems, you see the world in a very special way. You in particular, Ailsa, describe things with such beauty and honesty that you put most of us writers to shame. i don’t know why this post touched me so deeply, but it did.

  2. I just had to think of this when you asked about Dickens; The opening line of “great expectations”, certainly given your description of “black and white thinking” certainly would make that a possibility. “It was the best of Times, It was the Worst of Times,”….certainly fits that model! The rest of that paragraph really fits in…of course starvation does kind of also crate a ‘best/worse” view as well, according to DH…..LOLOL

    1. Oh yes, why do you think that psychiatrists ask you to go back and ask you “how did you REALLY feel?” re-arranging the past into how it was and not how I choose to see it, is very enlightening. xx

  3. How fascinating, Ailsa. I never knew that about being unable to see the grey, the nuances. It casts a lot of light on my experiences with my mother who, I now realise, was incredibly black and white, hurting us all in the process. Thank you for the enlightenment!

    1. My pleasure. It’s why we used to be called Manic Depressives – we’re either over the moon or in the pit of hell. We see everything else that way which is a helluva strain on the folks who love us. You too are either a monster or an angel

      1. Oh yes – you all change from minute to minute, depending on your interaction with us. That’s why it’s confusing. One minute I’m hanging off your neck swearing undying love, the next I’m cursing you to the foulest pits of hell. S’life with a Bippy!

  4. I understand perfectly as my husband is bi-polar and refused to admit it and take medication for years. We all suffered right along with him. He’s 84 now and broke his hip. He didn’t want an operation so has a caregiver who insists he stay on the meds and takes great care of him.

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