Manic Over-Commitment and Quitting.

 Today I learnt of a recurring theme in my life: quitting. When I was 10 I quit ballet lessons, 11 I quit flute lessons, 12 tap lessons, 15 horse riding……on to age 22 I quit my degree at University of Leeds- the list goes on. Needless to say those hobbies I quit as a child, I’ve returned to and quit again at numerous times of my life.

I realised that I’ve never really learnt to follow through with anything. As soon as the going gets tough, the weak give up. Maybe there have been good reasons for me to quit many of the things I’ve started, but I’ve also started many things I never should have- like full time jobs in the middle of hypomania. When hypomanic, it is sooo easy to want to do everything, here’s my usual list:

Full time job (where I will naturally have a promotion in 6 months due to my astounding talent and dedication ;-D)

Driving lessons (plus brand new car)

Dance lessons (three times a week and will join professional company within a year)

Yoga classes (will practice every day)

Piano lessons (be soloist within 2 years)

That doesn’t seem a very long list when I write it down, but when it comes to reality and trying to maintain a long term relationship, house and sanity, it becomes rather more challenging. Add to that overexcitement about the extra income and what I’m going to do with the extra £800 per month (buy a mansion, Audi A5 for Chris, holidays to South Africa, Alaska and Caribbean, start my own business)- it all becomes a little overwhelming, so quitting some of the above has always made perfect sense at these less sane times, to bring me back down to Earth…and protect our bank account!

But I guess the devastation caused by all this quitting has been greater than I could have ever imagined. In the case of quitting jobs in the face of panic attacks and increased anxiety having taken on too much, it inevitably leads to severe depression ( the natural crash after mania), but also huge drops in confidence and self esteem. In short, I have lost my motivation to ever start anything new ever again. I just see it as the beginning of another failure, another trigger to a mood swing- I am terrified of any challenge because of the intense disappointment after having such unrealistically high expectations during the grandiosity of mania. This disillusionment has to be dealt with and I’m currently drawing up a sensible plan of action involving setting small, achievable goals: number one of which will be to write my blog more regularly, and perhaps to get back to those piano lessons after three or four quits!


19 thoughts on “Manic Over-Commitment and Quitting.

  1. James Claims

    I generally have a similar behavior of having a lot of short term interests and hobbies. While it would be nice if I could stick to one or two for more than a month or so, I find that it’s not the worst thing in the world. I generally get really into a certain subject for that time period and I learn a lot. As a result, while I have only a few hobbies that have stayed with me, I also know a lot more in quite a few areas that I don’t think I would ever have known about if it were not for being bipolar. So there might be a bright side to being bipolar in spite of the erratic nature.

  2. rachelmiller1511 Post author

    Maybe you’re right and I shouldn’t take it too seriously, just ride the waves of interest a bit. It’s so easy when a bit hyper to be interested in loads of things- which I generally am anyway. Like you’ve said, even if it is just a few months, you can learn a lot. Do you tend to learn things really quickly, soaking up information like a sponge? I find I do. If I’m a bit hyper I can read 2 or 3 books in a day- obviously scanning a lot, but I seem to take so much in. It’s one of the things I really like about bipolar! My boyfriend can’t wait for the day when he can plug himself in to a programme, download it to his brain, and become a martial arts expert in seconds, Matrix-style!

  3. rachelmiller1511 Post author

    Oh yes- I know exactly where you’re coming from. This is a really interesting point you raise. I must admit I don’t have a way to deal with these people really. I’ve either just avoided them as much as I could, told a few little lies (eg. I got a new job so don’t have time to fit it in) or swallowed my pride and told the truth- usually if I really feel a connection with someone I’ll do this. I think it’s quite a devastating part of the whole bipolar journey, but I think the main thing I am learning (it’s an ongoing process) is that IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT OTHERS THINK OF ME!!!!
    Try and remember all the things your friends & family love about you, what YOU love about you- get a really good sense of who you are. Then imagine yourself seeing this person in the gym and saying hi. They’ll probably be so busy with their day they wont really be thinking about what happened with you- people can be very into their own lives, and that’s a good thing.

    You could always wear iPod and headphones- usually puts people off chatting!!

    I wish you loads of luck with this. Thanks so much for bringing up such an interesting point.


  4. sakuraandme

    Hi Rachel! I’m like you…every time I start something…I quit!! drives me batty and I hate that about my personality. I’ve decided this year I’m changing things about me and one of them is going back to learn the piano. I’m going to start from the very beginning…even if it means playing merry had a little lamb. That way I’m not putting pressure on my self to play Mozart! Hugs Paula xxx

    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Hi Paula- lovely to hear from you. That’s wonderful that you’re going to return to piano, especially that you’ve decided to take the pressure off yourself. I always want to run before I can walk too! I’m so impatient LOL!!
      Piano is one of those interests I’ve revisited a few times and I think that’s just how I work- short periods of learning, then a break!! Good luck with it- hope you enjoy yourself!! xxx

  5. rachelmiller1511 Post author

    I used to wonder if I was mis-diagnosed all the time. It’s very easy to blame yourself for everything. The over-committing/quitting pattern is in the nature of the disorder. It is your right to live your life your way and if that includes lots of quitting- well, that is your right too!! I’ve learnt to be a little bit more forgiving of myself these days!! Hope you can be forgiving of yourself too xxx

  6. Sandy Sue

    I recently went back to teaching meditation. Two different groups wanted me (which felt really good), but I worried that I was taking on too much, too fast (since, like everyone else, I’ve quit just about everything I ever started). I didn’t want to have to quit either group, so I made sure I had back-up leaders in place. I explained to both groups that I would need time off now and then (and why). It’s worked out well so far, and makes the whole group more accountable (instead of me being the “voice of authority”).

    Being unpredictable and unable to maintain a schedule is the hardest thing for me to deal with regarding BP. This has helped so much.

    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      That’s wonderful that you teach meditation and I love your back-up system idea. You’ve actually given me inspiration as I keep umming & ahhing about starting a little spiritual/meditation group at my house, but hold off due to my erratic moods- but having a back-up is great idea!! Thanks for that!! xxx

  7. my gay mom

    It’s frightening how overachieving the manic side thinks we should be. After years of quitting and bailing on projects and plans, you’d think it’d learn to be more realistic. The letdowns only offer more reasons to hate ourselves during the inevitable crash. Lately, I’ve been writing down “new plans” before breathing a word to anyone. I’ve already crossed off a dozen, and I haven’t had to quit anything. Keep up the fight! And don’t grow too jaded about new plans.

    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Thanks so much for the words of encouragement!!

      It really does seem to be a major “learning” area with bipolar, presenting many challenges. Learning to keep the balance of our moods when getting hyper-excited about something is tricky!!

  8. bipolarbeach

    It’s very timely that I read this post. I am currently majorly stressed over uni work, to the point where I have wanted to quit. I don’t think I can take the disappointment of another failed venture, so I am hanging in there with every bit of strength I have. I hope that I can make it through the next three weeks (it doesn’t sound like a long time does it?) and breathe again, knowing that I did my best despite my bipolar brain trying to take me in the direction of quitting and being hugely disappointed as a result. This would leave me with no reason to get out of bed in the morning and a depressive episode that I cannot handle right now. Thanks for the wonderful input (comments included). This gives the strength to keep pushing on and not give up. It’s also comforting to know that I am not alone. Thanks again!

  9. cmwebb36Christina

    I have an experience that I think encapsulates my grandiose expectations that get me into trouble. During a visit to the Rock and Roll Experience Museum, my husband and I were at one of the interactive exhibits where we could try a keyboard solo from a song of our choice. I chose Ray Manzarek’s (The Doors) solo from the intro to Light My Fire, and was very disappointed that I could not play it. I do not play the piano. My husband, who also does not play, chose the solo from Springstein’s Born in the USA-far more realistic. He could not believe my disappointment that I could not play the doors passage. His attempt to bring me back to that tidbit of reality did not quell my frustration, but looking back ( I am feeling far more stable now), I see his point. 🙂
    I still struggle with this high expectation/grandiose plan thing so this blog makes me feel not so alone.

    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Hi there! Thanks so much for sharing this. I think it can really help other people if we all share our experiences- like you say, it can make you feel less alone. I’m so glad you felt this from the post. It’s such a tough disorder to deal with, with so many different aspects which are never addressed by health professionals, such as the fallout from hypomania/mania and the impact on relationships. Thanks so much again for commenting xxx


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