Losing Time and Dancing With Disaster

Illustration of a person who looks lost.
I often feel lost. | Graphic made by author with Canva AI.

Hello, world. It’s your friendly, neighborhood bipolar writer. Or, at least, one of them.

Today, I don’t have anything specific to tell you. Instead, I’m just going to talk about me for a little bit and the concept of losing time.

I was diagnosed as bipolar in 1995. It took a good three years from then for my good doctors (and a few terrible ones) to find the right cocktail that would keep me from either extreme mania or crippling depression. The last 15 years have been relatively stable.

That means I have a full 28 years of experience of living and coping with the disease. I know the warning signs and generally the right course to take.

Or, at least, I think I do.

Start Today!


I left a long-term job in January of this year. It was the right thing to do because the job and environment had become untenable. I have not regretted it for a moment. In fact, I knew for years that I should leave the job, but fear of the unknown kept me stuck for a long time.

Change is not always a good thing when living under the bipolar cloud. I have some history of becoming a little off balance (or maybe a lot, but that’s a whole other Dr. Phil episode) and then eventually entering a death spiral.

This isn’t one of those times, I think, but I am concerned about a few things.

First, let me preface that a lot of bad and big stressors have been thrown at me recently. A very good friend confessed to an ongoing drug problem. Another dear friend was diagnosed with stage three cancer. Still another family friend is in hospice and not expected to make it through the weekend.

So, if I am a bit off balance, there’s some good reason for it.

Where Did The Time Go?

Of my closest bipolar friends, most have never experienced the sensation of losing time. If you have not experienced it, I don’t think there’s really an easy way to explain it. That probably means that I am an oddity even amongst the bipolar crowd.

Anyway, losing time is a little like the sensation you get in the car when you have a lot on your mind. Suddenly, you find yourself in a part of town or on a road and you don’t remember how you got there.

It’s a pretty common thing, and even my “healthy” friends have experienced it when under a lot a stress or overly tired.

I’ve heard others describe it as being similar to being black-out drunk. I’m not much of a drinker, and when I did drink, I had an unusually high tolerance for alcohol.

The obvious difference I have to point out is that it’s usually obvious when someone is drunk. A bipolar person losing time may appear perfectly normal.

Losing time, at least for me, is a lot more involved than a few minutes of inattentive driving. Usually, I lose hours, days, and sometimes weeks. Lately, it’s been the latter.

It’s hard to explain losing time to someone that has never experienced it. I tried once with a good buddy, but he kept saying, “But you seemed normal last week.”

I guess he thought that if I lost time I should have been comatose during that same time. If only it were that simple.

Where Did The Money Go?

I have lived this life long enough to know that losing time is most often a part of or precursor to a manic episode. That should be enough to send cold chills down my spine.

Unfortunately, with the missing time, there is usually missing money (and lots of missing food.)

If you’re still not clear on the missing time concept, just imagine a day or several days going by. You lived your normal life, did your job, cared for your family, but at the end of the time period, you are left with no memory of what happened.

No memory.

Next, there are the surprises. Perhaps, the ingredients you bought to make something special are suddenly missing from the kitchen. Packages start showing up from purchases you don’t remember making. Friends talk amongst themselves over strange things you’ve said, but no one tells you what you said.

You were there. Therefore, you should know.

But you don’t.

Where Did The Sleep Go?

In addition to losing time, I have also been sleeping very little. I think I’m averaging about three hours a night for the past three weeks. Considerably less some nights, but never more than four hours a night.

That alone should be a huge red flag.


But, the thing is, I don’t feel manic. I’ve not been especially productive, and I’m not making terrible decisions.

Is it mania or something else? I don’t know. It’s not the same as other times, so I decided I would sit down and try to hash it out in print.

No epiphanies this far. Unless, maybe, you’re having one. If so, I hope you share.

Not Gonna Worry

As I’ve said, I’ve danced with the devil bipolar for some time now. I know when things are turning seriously bad, when I feel the ice crack beneath my feet and the darkness grabs at my heels from beneath the surface. I’m aware of the feeling of drowning and gasping for the air of sanity.

This experience doesn’t feel like that. So, I’m not gonna worry.

I know this dance so I’ll turn to my favorite songs for help. Losing time or not, I learned to lead a long time ago.

Do your best, dear bipolar. You are not going to win this time.

Thanks for coming by and for letting me rant a little bit. I hope you are doing well.

Until next time, keep fighting.

Pinterest Pin:
Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder can be a difficult journey. 

It often includes loss of time, but it doesn't have to stop you from living your best life. 

Read Scott Ninneman’s inspiring post to understand what it’s like and how to manage this symptom of mental illness. 

Make sure to check out his blog, Speaking Bipolar, for more helpful stories about living with mental health issues! 

#SpeakingBipolar #mentalhealth #mentalillness #bipolar #mentalhealthmatters
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  1. I hope this worked out fine with you and you were able to level back out. I experience extreme mania and otherwise have been able to self manage but when I am hypo I am creative and productive but never really amounts to anything substantial. Thanks for sharing. I hope you will check out my blog betterbipolar.wordpress.com

    1. Thank you for commenting. Yes, I have leveled out. I’ve learned through the decades how to ride the bipolar wave pretty well. I have followed your blog and look forward to reading your posts.

  2. I’ve was diagnosed BP 50 years ago, and only the last 25 on meds. I still find myself “losing track of time” even today. Sit down at the computer for “… a few minutes..” only to glance at the clock and realize a few HOURS have gone by.
    Even the meds don’t stop this from happening.

    1. I’m thinking it never completely goes away. Thanks for commenting! I hope the time lapses aren’t too problematic for you.

  3. I lose time a lot.. It is sorta hard to explain. Sometimes it’s just that I am thinking something happened yesterday – and it was really 6 months ago, even years ago. Sometimes it’s that I have no sold concept of time – and that is typical of manic due to no real circadian rhythm during or leading up to mania. My friends tease me about it affectionately but it is bothersome to really not know..

    1. I’m so sorry you have this shared experience. It is hard to explain to someone that has not dealt with it personally. I guess there’s some comfort in knowing we add humor to our friends’ lives. Hang in there! And thanks for commenting.

  4. I appreciate your honesty and wish you all the best in managing your bipolar demons. The events you speak of regarding losing time and not recalling purchasing items must leave you terribly confused! You’ve certainly opened my eyes to the unbelievable struggles faced by those with bipolar. All the best to you!

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I wish the best to you, too!

  5. I’ve had mystery packages show up from Amazon of things I didn’t remember buying. Sometimes it’s a nice surprise, other times it’s more like WHY did I order this? and spent money I shouldn’t of spent. ugh

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