The Umbrella & Why You Don’t Have to Fit Under It!

As with all groups, extremism is a trap anyone may fall into after a certain amount of immersion with like-minded people. Often, extremists don’t realize they have abandoned their true cause and are all operating from the same platform. Hate.

Essentially, they have aligned themselves with other extremists. Full stop. In doing so, they find themselves members of a seperate entity that is inclusive of the very groups they may be railing against. They are united in hate and the furthering of their own agenda above anyone else’s. Thus, narcissists and psychopaths often infiltrate causes for their own gain. The most extreme manifestation of this being cult leaders.

Where am I going with this? Just as it is important to differentiate between “having Bipolar” vs “being Bipolar”, it’s important to maintain your individuality rather than develop a mindset that you must think and advocate like all who have Bipolar. Similar to those who elevate themselves based on being the “sane ones” (I don’t believe anyone is), some of us develop the notion that only those with Bipolar are approachable and start to believe all those without our struggles are bigoted. The initial stages of this include hyper- sensitivity and character assassinations. Furthermore similar divides can be seen between the various diagnoses and believing your’s is the worst, so others are “barely Bipolar“.

The reality: JUST BECAUSE WE SHARE A BASE DIAGNOSIS DOES NOT MEAN WE ALL HAVE TO AGREE WITH EACHOTHER AND/OR BECOME AS JUDGEMENTAL AS SOME OF THOSE AROUND US.

So let’s take a look at a clear divergence of thought amongst our community. This is information for you to extra-polate your own opinion and I have no agenda, although I will state my opinion.

Some required definitions:

Etymology- is the study of the history of words. By extension, the etymology of a word means its origin and development throughout history.

Merriam-Webster states four definitions of Bipolar, for the purposes of this blog I will address two:

  • 1. having or marked by two mutually repellent forces or diametrically opposed natures or views
  • 4. psychology- being, characteristic of, or affected with a bipolar disorder

The general rule of thumb? The first definition listed is the preeminent app-lication of the word. In truth, Bipolar is an adopted word, which mostly gained traction in the 90’s to replace the term manic depressive. This was an attempt to eliminate the association of mania with maniac. Prior to this relabelling, the term Bipolar was most accurately applied to various scientific observations, i.e. a zoological term and electricity. However as with all things, at the time it simultaneously became an adjective used to describe opposing viewpoints.

The designation of Bipolar as a diagnosis was not a stretch, as it is both a scientific label and an identification of conflicting mindsets (so to speak). Although this is accurate, it was still a usurping of the word that continues to have active alternate meanings within society today. Due to this fact the latter part of the definition of etymology does not apply, in so far as the word has not evolved into a singular meaning and the likelihood a scientific term will evolve into this singular definition is low.

Whether you believe people are hypersensitive to the use of Bipolar, whether you don’t care, or if you believe being incensed by the word is justified…well that’s the point. You are entitled to your stance. I, myself, believe the labelling of weather as Bipolar is not inaccurate or offensive because it is the description of a scientific phenomenon.

Guess what? Many disagree including people I associate closely with and who cares? I’m not an extremists, they aren’t either. WE CAN AGREE TO DISAGREE! Also, I don’t mind if the word is used to describe opposing views. This all falls within the parameters of Bipolar as it is defined.

In my opinion, stigma perpetuation includes ascribing all erratic behavior to Bipolar accurately diagnosed or not, indicating someone needs to “up their dose” because someone has deemed them Bipolar, and/or basically when it is used as a characterization of any individual rather than a diagnosis. The latter being kind of a catchall for the misuse of the word.

Since this application misses the mark entirely it is also fair to say using Bipolar to reinforce a negative of any kind is a misuse of the word and contributes to stigma. Yes opposing viewpoints can be labeled as such, but the label is strictly meant to highlight a rift between two parties. It is not meant for the purposes of editorializing and casting a negative light on the conflicting ideals.

Dark Empath: A More Fitting Label for The Diabolical Abuser?

Preface: The theory of the Dark Empath diagnosis is still in it’s infancy. Studies have been done and it has really only gained traction within the past year. For the sake of breaking down one of the most complicated concepts I have encountered, I’m going to focus on narcissism as the jumping off point. This is a narrow take, as the whole of the dark triad (machiavellianism, psychopathy) are applicable. To understand the depth of the potential Dark Empath diagnosis, I have drawn a comparison that may read as minimizing narcissist abuse. Please Understand the Intent is to Emphasize the Difference & in no way Minimize Any Type of Abuseđź’š

Reminder: Although I have extensive knowledge about mental illness and suffer from it, I am not a licensed practitioner. The following is merely my opinion on why this working theory should be further explored and likely will be solidified.

It’s human nature to simplify. Even therapists are not immune to the desire to put people in tidy, little boxes. Perhaps I’m alone in this, but for quite some time I’ve found “if you were abused, a narcissist or an addict must have done it” has become a simple explanation to a massive problem. Applicable at times, but is it really suddenly the diagnosis for every abuse scenario? Operating from that base belief seems to ignore nuances of abuse that victims have tried and failed to have addressed.

For instance, many experts will maintain if you believe your abuser displayed genuine feeling at times that’s really a byproduct of ego. Basically, your inability to accept you got played and played well. An assessment that actually seems counterintuitive, as the prevailing thought is empaths are more likely to suffer from abuse. There are two primary types of empathy, affective and cognitive, and the former is characterized by an actual ability to feel what someone is feeling. Thus if you can feel what your abuser is feeling, then how is it possible they manufactured it? A narcissist may understand how a person feels and what they might be thinking, cognitive empathy, but how can they truly project a manufactured emotion?

Therefore if we operate from the perspective of an empathic victim, the assessment of a feeling person presenting at times by an abuser should be taken seriously. This calls into question the assignment of narcissistic abuse as a “catch all” diagnosis for abusive relationships. After all while narcissists do have a modicum of empathy, this is not their go to abuse tactic. In reality our societal perception of abuse aligns with their standard tactic of fear mongering, so this trend is understandable.

I have dated narcissists, but I have also dated something worse. The narcissists had, if you will, a superficial bite to them. There was more physical violence and verbal violence, such as blatant insults and name calling vs innuendo and verbal evisceration. Of course there was “love bombing”, but in hindsight many tells existed early on. In the moment, I obviously missed them. The narcissists I dated also really thrived on people’s positive perceptions of them and myself until they began really losing grip. Me looking good made the narcissist look good and they wanted everyone to know they treated me well. Even when a narcissist begins the process of isolating you, he wants it to appear you’ve made the choice to distance yourself from everyone. Then when the situation further deteriorates, choice gets taken away completely. Do as I say. Even within the honeymoon period, their behavior hasn’t altered. They are just buying you off with gifts and false apologies, while still explaining why it’s your fault these things happen. They also may use the fear of abandonment as a tactic, but how many of them really leave when they are incredibly angry? Why would they when they can stay and fuck you up one way or another?

So how does a relationship with a Dark Empath differ from the above? Essentially, it’s far less superficial and far more complex. Once you have fallen victim to a narcissist or each time you do, “love bombing” becomes easier to spot. The intensive attention, the fast pace, the hearing what you want to, and so on. So, what if your abuser actually feels some of what they are telling you and you actually feel it from them? What if they have a twisted moral compass which allows them to believe they are here to right the all wrongs, but above all to right the wrongs that have effected them? Like I said, gets a bit complicated. Imagine someone with a hero complex so extreme they are willing to crucify anyone they perceive as a threat to and you can’t escape that you will become a perceived threat. In the beginning they not only know how to play a part, but they do feel the part. It’s almost as if their narcissistic traits are at war with their empathic capabilities. FYI: The narcissistic traits tend to win out.

Back to superficial abuse vs complex (there isn’t a clinical distinction here, I have created one for the purpose of explaination), try to think of narcissitic abuse as brute strength. Force, not necessarily physical, is involved in the majority of their tactics. Forcing their will on you one way or another. Even gaslighting is an attempt to force their reality on you. Dark Empaths appear to have far more self control and more effective methods. For instance, it wasn’t until the fourth year of cohabitation with one that I experienced physical violence, no escalation, just one attack that almost killed me. How about that I was actually the first person he laid hands on even though he’s 42? Just to allay any questions, no I didn’t attack him and have never physically attacked anyone. Do you know why it finally happened? He empathized with his side-piece. He couldn’t believe I hurt her by informing her husband, who contacted me, that I had just found out about the extent of their affair. How dare I hurt her that way!? He, the hero, would right that wrong and I paid for it in blood.

The reason a narcissist attempts to accelerate the dating process it to expedite their ability to be their abusive selves. Yet, it’s possible a Dark Empath never will display abuse at the level a narcissist inevitably will. A Dark Empath is actually capable of living a life in which they only encounter those submissive enough to never set them off. Their approach to domination and abuse may parallel with many aspects of the narcissist, but it is far more insidious.

The Dark Empath’s cycle of abuse has an added layer of complexity . They don’t “make things better” by scape-goating you or continuing to push their agenda. Instead, they let you talk. They “really listen” and take responsibility for the abuse. They show epic remorse and work with you to ensure it never happens again…until it does. Not every conversation becomes a matter of what you’ve done wrong. Tears are shed and you can feel that they feel. Perhaps now you understand why I feel this is far more dangerous than narcissistic abuse? Though there is a divergence of thought here, as some experts believe it is less damaging because it’s not as repetitively overt. I think those experts are forgetting to take into account the likelihood of exposure to prolonged abuse when an abuser shows authentic change and accountability (lacking in narcissistic abuse) for a period of time.

Cue the guilt. Yes a narcissist may try to and succeed at making you believe you deserve what you get, but the Dark Empath has a more convincing passive aggressive approach. Imagine if guilt trips are a constant tool used to shift a power balance that shouldn’t exist. Rather than the “episode” of abuse, it’s actually a game. If you’ve ever made a point, you better be prepared to pay for it later. The next mistake will be a permission slip to explain why you’re the uncaring one, how they already are trying to “do better” and here you are trying to ruin everything with your selfish behavior.

The Dark Empath thinks everything is a competition. An idea they carry over to appearances. Unlike the narcissist, the Dark Empath doesn’t care how you’re perceived. As a matter of fact, they may actually abandon you when they’re angry just so they can go to a buddy’s house or the mistress’s and tell them what a “whack job” you are. They have a different power play. Rather than worrying about appearing weak, they may want people to believe they are the victim and they are the ones that have been wronged early on. Maybe within weeks of meeting you, they’ll begin laying the groundwork for this by mentioning things like, “I can tell she’s a crazy one but I really like her”. They achieve their goal of isolating you by telling the world you’re a “crazy bitch”, rather than caring if it looks like you decided to withdraw on your own.

Ultimately, the Dark Empath doesn’t just want to control you. What the Dark Empath wants is to always be number one in the eyes of everyone. They’ll even subtly step on others that have nothing to do with you to achieve this. From what I can tell, there are two things to really watch for if you have concerns. One, do they thrive off malicious humor? Making off color jokes, saying “just kidding” when they clearly aren’t, bashing minorities or those they view to be of “lesser status”… Two, are they the person you always turn to and the only one that can help? That’s great, truly, unless you’re turning to them constantly because they’ve caused you to need help. Both characteristics are boldly displayed across the few studies that exist.

The long overdue Dark Empath diagnosis addresses previously dismissed victim accounts. It makes perfect sense, as universal truths go, that an abuser capable of empathizing exists and is dangerous.

“To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.” -Sun Tzu

Raw. Ruined. True. The Real Me.

CONTENT WARNING/ TRIGGERING: PLEASE KNOW THIS IS UNFILTERED, UNCENSORED. INCLUDING ABUSE AND IDEATION!

I’ve died. I don’t need the ideation or the actual act because I’m already dead. I look around and all that’s left is an actress. All there is? The [insert appropriate response] shell of what I was. Those that knew me when I existed? They’re all gone. I’m so close to losing the need to even play a part. I have to though, I have to parent, to show that I’m not a cliche. I’m not “the Bipolar, man reliant, single mother that fucks up her kid.”

I chose to have a child, he didn’t choose to have me. I won’t punish him for that and make my life his problem. I’m me even less everyday. My son gets older every day. I can’t stop it and I can’t cling to it. I have to celebrate the process. I have to smile at the voice cracks and his willingness to talk to me about everything. I have to say with all the enthusiasm in the world, “Absolutely! Have a good time!” and let him leave. Only then can I safely count the days until he returns because he’s all I am now, all that’s left of me, and he can’t know. I won’t be that mom.

I can’t leave. I can’t even sit alone at a bar and drunkenly find someone to take me home. I can’t be seen this way, teeth missing and dark circles. I am an eyesore with nothing to offer. I’m a joke and he won. Not my son, the one that put the staples in my head. He always said he loved me for the “right reasons”. Then he quit trying to pretty it up. Then it became I was too ugly to ever be “fuckable”. Too ugly to kiss. So ugly that “if you won’t kill yourself, I’ll do it for you.”

I didn’t used to be this ugly. I didn’t used to have to change in another room. I used to believe he must be wrong. I used to believe what I lacked in looks, I more than made up for in personality. Even before I became as ugly as I am now, he had already convinced me I had always been grotesque, how absolutely nauseating to look at I was.

When you’re a parent, if you’re capable, you have a moment of clarity. A moment where you realize no matter how much better off you believe your child will be they won’t. They would always blame themselves if you decided living isn’t important anymore. I hate my ex for this. I hate him because he could have done me one favor. One single mercy. He could have actually finished bashing my skull in. He could have actually followed through and not left me alone. Not alone because he’s gone, alone because I lost everyone by being with him. Alone because now I am as ugly as he always said. I’m all he told me I was for the past five years. It’s been two years. I can’t “fix” this. The relationships, friend and family I tried to repair, they can’t and won’t be. They’ve made that clear. The long time fuck buddy? The one from highschool? The one who I saw whenever we were single? Well we’re both single, but I’m ugly now.

Even the treatment, the proven trauma treatment, has stripped me of something I needed so badly. Everyday more of that veil disappears. I’m drowning in unwanted memories and feelings without the support or skills I need to survive it. I’ve never had nightmares. Now they’re so bad I’ve had to subtly ask my child if a benign detail from a horror story of a dream happened or not. Why sleep? I write, I read, I walk, I parent. Trauma tripping hypomania then swinging to depression. Not a break, not just a couple times a year, just a day or two of normalcy if I’m lucky. Episode after episode. I see my therapist every week and that’s it. Outside of her and my son, I speak to no one face to face. How could I? Like I said, I can’t be seen.

I’m dissociative, but my personality hasn’t fractured. I don’t have alts. I had the ability to at least watch everything wrong in my world from a distance, to watch myself get beat instead of feel it. To run my fingers through blood saturated hair and think it’s just wet. I could always take refuge in my dissociation. Now I’m stuck in neverending episodes without an ounce of hope. What I have is the act. The moments I seem to be me, well the old me. The joke cracking, psuedo-intellectual with sex appeal, but that’s the girl that exists in the digital world.

I’m the parent everyday, a damn good one actually, but I’m nothing otherwise. I live in the abstract. You don’t know me. You can’t. But really what’s there to know? I couldn’t see you if you wanted to see me because I can’t be seen like this. I can’t watch someone look at me like he did. Look at me the way I never used to be looked at or talked to. So there it is. There’s the truth behind the act. That’s what I am. Not who I am because I’m not a “who”, I’m a ghost. Just the ghost on a platform.

If you feel this, if you’ve felt this, if it brought you pain, or even pity… whatever your response..take one thing from this, take the only message that matters from this… someone feels the pain you do. Someone is drowning too, or even more, but there is ALWAYS one reason you are needed here. Maybe it’s not a child, hell maybe it’s a pet, but maybe it’s the person you forgot about. The one who’s life you changed. What if they end their’s because they realize you were a fraud? A hippocrite. What if someone you didn’t even realize took hope from a moment that you didn’t even register? Then you’re gone, unknowingly validating their belief that death is a better option.

You might think this is a stretch. Check this: I once received a thank you message on facebook from the guy my classmates had always called “the fat kid”. We weren’t close, but I accepted the message and found a thank you written. He went on to say he would have put the shotgun his grandfather owned to his head had I not told one person to fuck off when they made a fat joke. He added that no matter what I always said hello and never treated him like “the fat kid”. I can happily say I remembered him, but if you think I had any idea that I had a profound effect on his life your sorely mistaken. It was surreal.

Since then? 7. I’ve come to find out seven people opted out of suicide because of me. Not because I gave them treatment or even had a conversation with them about their mental health, just talking or defending. Even if you haven’t had that effect yet, or you don’t know if you have, what if someday? About now you’re probably questioning how I could write all that I have. Like I said, playing a part now. Maybe I always have been. I guess at some point you have to wonder if anyone will ever save you. I’m touched that I’ve effected change. Probably one of the only things that can give me an additional motive to live, knowing maybe I can help a few others. Doesn’t mean I want this existence, or rather non existence anymore. Living is hard, no one can promise a better tomorrow, but living is necessary.