Living With Bipolar II Disorder: Let’s Start a Business

WeeKend Kolumnist

One year after my psychiatrist started me on antidepressants for my depression, life began shining more brightly again. I was able to get out of bed and enjoy summer days and the rays of sunlight beaming onto my face. I was moving my limbs again; my mind slowly thawing from its deep freeze. Smiling and laughing became easier. I even went from being a brunette to having my hair dyed platinum blonde. The significance of this? I was well enough to commit to the upkeep of dark roots. Once vanity kicked in, I knew I was on the road to recovery.

(Read Sandra’s Last Column)

Previously, as my depression had deepened and I had lost interest in the world and its inhabitants, I had shut down all of my social media accounts; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, social media accounts which I had been growing for several years deactivated with one click of the keyboard. With my now renewed invigoration, I was missing my online connections. I started new social media accounts, and began reconnecting with old friends and looking for new ones.

One of the classic signs of mania is rapid speech, speeding thoughts, and distractibility. These began manifesting quickly as my obsession with online interactions grew. As I clicked my way through Instagram pictures and tweeted incessantly about the random activities in my life (“Today I will shower!”), I relinquished sleep for more time with my Smartphone. As the darkness of night turned into the sunrise of day, I remained fixated on the lives of others.

businessOne of the new trends I was noticing was an increased desire for long, full lashes. And as I hit “#eyelashes” I scrolled through hundreds of pictures. The product apparently responsible for these was from a multilevel marketing company that encouraged its potential customers to join up as salespeople thereby giving them a discount on the product which they coveted. With this came the opportunity to make tons of cash, meet quotas which would insure a rapid climb up the marketing ladder, and of course, ensure long, lush lashes. Clearly it was a win-win endeavour.

I should clarify that this entrepreneurial persona was typical of me when my hypomania would begin kicking into full-fledged mania. The funny thing about this is that I have zero sales experience, and even less knowledge of business, home-based or otherwise. And yet, when my mind starts revving its motor, the start line is never an option. I skip the steps in between and expect the finish line to appear before me in a burst of rockets and confetti. It never does.

In my adult life, I have started a cake decorating business even though I have no idea how to make buttercream icing from scratch, (Betty Crocker is like a mother to me). The cake decorating endeavour lasted as long as it took me to make and deliver my first cake. By the end of the week-long project and a treacherous ride through the bumpy streets of Winnipeg balancing the heavy monstrosity on my lap, while my husband drove to my shrieks of, “Pothole! Pothole!” – I retired.

christmas

I’ve also bought a sewing machine so that I could make and sell teddy bears…don’t ask me where that came from. I can’t even figure out how sewing patterns are supposed to work. I’ve sought out real estate to start my own fitness centre. Although I was qualified to teach assorted fitness classes, I had no money with which to secure said real estate. And as I mentioned before, I have zero business experience. I couldn’t (can’t) balance my cheque book. I’ve also joined various herbal supplement companies as a sales rep and purchased hundreds of dollars of their product to sell when in reality, I have zero sales and business experience.

You get where I’m going with this, right? I have zero sales and business experience.

businessYet throwing all caution (and past experiences) to the wind, as my mind accelerated, so did the idea that I was unconquerable. And so the world in which I viewed myself as a mascara mogul grew to such proportions that designing business cards with a cute little logo, and baseball caps with a cute little logo, and t-shirts with a cute little logo consumed my every thought. My poor friends were assailed with emails and pictures from me inquiring as to whether they were interested in purchasing my extraordinary product.

I spent an exorbitant amount of money right before Christmas to order several cases of mascara, certain that people would want to purchase these from me as gifts for their loved ones. As the days approaching the holidays proved to be devoid of customers, despite the incessant promotions I was having and the barrage of spamming my friends had to endure, as it always happened at precisely this time of my magnificence (or lack thereof) I crashed. This time in a pile of waterproof mascara.

I was left with more makeup than I would ever use in one lifetime; I had no available money or credit since I had spent it on the apparel on which my cute little logo was now emblazoned. I couldn’t give my family a good Christmas, not only because I couldn’t afford to, but also because I couldn’t get out of bed.

By now my husband had started recognizing when I was going from manic to useless. With yet another visit to my family doctor, as I sat in front of him babbling and sobbing about how I wasn’t even good enough to sell a tube of mascara, he made a few medication changes, and left me with these words, “If you can’t sell makeup, maybe you should just accept that you aren’t that great of a sales person.” Not super inspirational, but for that specific moment in time, that piece of advice would have to do.

So as God is my witness, I will never try to start my own business ever again.

No. I’m totally serious.

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About Sandra Charron
When I’m not writing here, I can be found at www.sandracharron.com Twitter handle Instagram
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5 Comments on Living With Bipolar II Disorder: Let’s Start a Business

  1. If I were a less ethical person I’d consider starting a business solely to take advantage of bipolar people in manic mode, but then it seems that niche has already been filled.

  2. Oh Sandra – is it bad that I laughed at the cake/pothole scenario? And I don’t think you can actually get better buttercream than Betty Crocker. I keep a sneaky tub in the back of my fridge. Okay, two tubs.
    It’s interesting you discussed the effects of social media on those with mental health issues – a friend and I were just talking about that the other day. On the one hand it’s a fantastic way for those in need to connect with others, but then it’s a double edged sword when it ends up feeding your illness as well as your need for support. What to do in a world where social media seems to rule?

  3. I think I would have probably bought that mascara! ha
    You know I do think you’d make a great fitness coach though. Okay maybe not as the sole business owner – LOL – but you have such a great personality, you know it, and you have a heart for people I believe. However, it occurs to me those are also great traits for someone in the medical profession too. so perhaps you are exactly where you are supposed to be. I do really wish there was video of the cake vs. pothole thing though. 😉

  4. Good post. I find it interesting that when you are hypomanic on your way to mania you become business obsessed. I experienced the same thing! I tried an online business and failed. I also bought into an herbal supplement company as a sales rep. Oh, and did I mention I tried signing up as a Mary Kay (makeup line) as a sales rep and I rarely wear makeup! For a long time, I was embarrassed once I returned to earth. Now, since I have a proper diagnosis, I understand the “why” of it all. You are the first person I’ve come across who also got the business bug during hypomanic/manic episodes.

  5. Good post. I too would get the business bug during hypomania on the way up towards mania. I tried an online business that produced nothing. I also tried being an herbal supplement sales rep. I even tried becoming a Mary Kay (makeup line) sales rep and I rarely wear makeup! I was determined and obsessed with the idea of a business I could run from home. Since being properly diagnosed with bipolar, I understand that behavior. Isn’t it amazing how hypomania/mania can skew our thinking and reality? Thankfully I’m wiser now and my husband also give me wise feedback when I need it.

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