I Still Can’t Watch Television

Nothing has changed since I first reported my disability in regards to watching television and followed up later. I still can’t watch.

My daughters brought a DVD of a popular movie to watch last weekend. I helped them put it in the player and switch it on. I immediately had to leave. The machine repels me. It signals my brain and switches off my ability to sit comfortably. I hid in my room and paced the floor simply knowing it was playing. I emerged a couple of times to stand and watch briefly, but I always retreated to the safety of my room.

Over the past couple of years, I have talked to numerous other people with bipolar disorder, and they often report the same experience. It’s truly mystifying.

I noticed several years ago this discomfort was not strictly limited to the television. I also intensely dislike videos on the Internet and movies at the theater. My dearest friend sends me links to humorous videos, and I lie. I tell her I watched them, but I don’t. I will often click the link to see the title, but I will quickly turn it off.

I quite simply can’t sit through visual stimulation from a video source.

A good friend once told me I was missing nothing, but this discomfort is something more. It is a true disability. When the television is on in the house, I must pace. My mind races, and I can’t be calm.

I want to write that it’s bizarre, but I don’t want to demean me in any way. This disability hampers my enjoyment of life.

It’s not an inability to concentrate. I can write entries on this blog, and that exercise requires time and effort.

It has nothing to do with the flickering television tube since my unit is a new high-definition model. The computer screen, too, is HD. There is something about receiving stimulation from video that is inherently disconcerting.

Movies are a chore, and I turn down dates with friends to attend. If there is a particular one I really want to see, I often fortify my mind by taking an extremely low dose of a sedative beforehand.

I have been this way for a very long time. It’s been decades since I was able to enjoy a television show. I would like it to change. From what I can surmise, watching television is relaxing and makes people laugh. I’m excluded from that pleasure.

Adding a New Medication

I saw my prescribing nurse practitioner, and she’s added a mood stabilizer to my regimen of medication. It’s called lamotrigine. I don’t know what the non-generic name is. It seems that the past two times I’ve seen her I’ve been manic. It’s a concern, because I make rash decisions when I’m manic. I can’t think things through in a calm way. I rush headlong into projects and take on more than I can handle.

I noticed that I’ve spent a lot of money buying books on Amazon lately. It’s money that I shouldn’t have spent that way, but it’s done now. Spending sprees is an unfortunate symptom of bipolar disorder. The upside is I have a lot to entertain myself with for quite some time.

I continue to be surprised at the way readers discover this little blog. Most people find it through Google searches, and the one search I see often is a bipolar sufferer’s inability to watch television. I am amazed that this symptom is not talked about by researchers.

I can’t watch television, and it seems I’m far from alone. I’m allergic to it. When I try to sit down and relax in front of the TV, I last for five minutes at most. I start to squirm during those minutes, too. If I manage to keep the TV set on, then I start to pace around the room. Finally, I’ll end up turning it off.

Many people I’ve explained this to laugh and say I’m better off for it, but they’re missing the point. I can’t watch TV. It’s physically impossible. My mind won’t be still. The racing thoughts come like an itch at the back of my head that spreads like ants making me jittery. I miss out on shows that I would honestly like to see. Many of my friends watched “Downton Abbey” regularly, and I wanted to join. My brain won’t let me. Their discussions about characters and plot twists are lost on me. It’s a real loss.

I have trouble reading, too. I can only do it in short spurts. Gone are the days when I could sit and lavishly lose myself for hours in the pages of great writing. I complained about that for years to my psychiatrist and then to the nurse practitioner. Nothing seems to help. I’ll just have to take my time working my way through the stack of books from Amazon.

I almost forgot to mention I’ve had two panic attacks in the past month. What joy!