Hurry up and wait!

Hurry up and wait!  Those who have ever been involved in either the military or emergency services from any country will know what this phrase means.

In the military it meant that if the Regiment was ordered to move off at 0500 hours, just to make sure, the order was passed on to the company commanders as move off at 0430 hours.

Now the company commanders didn’t want their company to be the last one holding up the Regiment – so the order was passed on to the platoon and section leaders as 0400 hours move off.

Naturally, the section NCO’s weren’t going to have their section hold up the platoon formation so – yes, you’re  right – everybody was told to be ready to move off at 0330 hours.

So even though everyone knew what was going to happen – a great number of grumbling men would get their equipment and themselves ready at some “Oh my stars, it’s too early time,” to arrive at the start point and then try to make themselves as comfortable as possible in usually rotten weather while a bunch of self serving officers and NCO’s all congratulated themselves on their efficiency when the Regimental commander arrived.

In the Fire Service it was often the same, a Code 1 call to respond for a bush fire was received, so off we would go with our heavy fire trucks, lights and sirens blazing to arrive at the designated rendezvous point just to be told that we had to wait for another unit or units to arrive before we received our orders or briefings.  So we sat and waited, and waited until -  well you got the idea!

So what has this to do with bipolar disorder you ask?

Well now you have waited to get to this point, I’ll tell you.

Life with bipolar is very much like – “Hurry up and Wait”,  first you have a high or hypomanic spell where the energy and optimism may be boundless as you think that finally you have broken off the shackles of this monster. Then it seems to be no time at all before the spell is broken and you realise that the slippery slope at the other end is still there.

Then comes perhaps, the middle stage where life is pretty normal, or what passes for normal for many of us, but the fear that this good spell will hurry up and finish is still there.

And, yes, it does end, then the long endless wait to see if we will come out of this horrible spell starts.

At the waiting stage, it really does seem that it will never end.  This time there will be no light at the end of the tunnel and all we are waiting, or even hoping for, is something to happen to end the misery.

When I reach this point, I often hope that my family doctor finds some sort of incurable physical ailment that means that my life will end soon and that the strain for my family will be over without me having to do something myself. I find my thinking starting to cycle again over the possibilities of life being over and what a relief it will be.  No more aches and pains, no more feelings of failure and despair.  Just peace and no more worries.

Then I try to force myself to go through my Cognitive Behaviour Therapy routines to get some rationality back into my thoughts and fight of that black, seductive voice.

I remind myself, Hurry up to the next good spot in my life – Wait until this is over; there is something to wait around for.  And so you see – I hope – my life with bipolar does consist of “hurry up and wait.”


Graham Brown

6 October, 2005


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