By the Way, I’m Bipolar

A recent comment on this old post of mine made me realize I haven’t discussed my craziness on here for a while, and new readers might not even know the story.

The reason for this is simple: I am much, much better now, and on a daily basis, I totally forget that I am bipolar. I take my crazy meds, I keep an eye on my moods in case anything starts to get into the warning zone, but for the most part, I hardly even think about it anymore. Being in control of my life, my health and my time has erased any remnants of badness that still plagued me.

I’m not “cured”; I will never be cured. Every now and then, I’ll still flare up. But I also finally feel like I’m not “dealing” with my BP on a daily basis. It’s a program that runs in the background, like my lactose intolerance, and as long as I treat it properly, I only remember it’s there when I pop my pills in the morning.

The reason for this post is also simple. Since I rarely talk about my BP on this blog, I thought it was time to bring it back up as a quick public service reminder of a couple things:

1. Crazy People Are Perfectly Normal

This blog is not a blog about my craziness, because my craziness doesn’t define me. Of all the things that are going on in my life, I’d say it has the least to do with who I am and what I’m up to.

That’s not to downplay how serious BP is, or to make it sound like it’s been all rainbows and unicorns for me. It hasn’t. It’s just to point out that there’s nothing inherently untouchable about being crazy. Society treats it like a scary foreign object, but it’s not, if we’re willing to talk about it.

Us crazies aren’t all that much different from you. Everyone is dealing with something. This just happens to be our “something.” It doesn’t make us weaker. It doesn’t make us a hazard. You don’t have to treat us with kid gloves or worry about us breaking at a moment’s notice.

Society’s ideas of craziness are, sadly, extreme: Sylvia Plath, head in the oven. Charlie Sheen, ranting about winning and tiger blood. Being crazy does not mean you become like this – and thinking it does is why so many people are ashamed or embarrassed to admit what they’re going through.

It doesn’t have to be isolating. It doesn’t have to be a skeleton in the closet. Craziness is an illness. It’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about, and it shouldn’t carry anymore of a stigma than admitting you’re diabetic or have a peanut allergy. That’s the main reason I decide to come out about my own BP years ago, and why I thought it was time for a reminder – because I wanted people to realize we’re actually shockingly average. We’re just people, dealing with things. You don’t need to treat us any differently for that.

2. It Can Be Better

My college years were a living hell. My life after graduation wasn’t much better. For years, I loathed myself and the world I’d destroyed around me. I can’t think of that period without my stomach plummeting, because it was a dark, dark place I am so grateful I got out of.

But now? Now, things are better. And that is such an important thing to acknowledge.

Because when I was first diagnosed, I thought it was an end-of-life sentence. With only Sylvia Plath imagery in my head, I thought being BP meant I was doomed to descend into madness, never to live a “normal” life or know whether my emotions were mine or my condition’s. That’s part of the reason I waited so long to get help; I knew something was wrong, but I thought claiming my craziness would end any chances I had for a happy existence. I wanted to pretend it wasn’t true, because I had a horrible picture in my head of what it would mean if it were.

I was mercifully, ridiculously wrong. A mental illness diagnosis doesn’t have to be a be-all and end-all. Modern medicine is amazing, and there are so many ways to regulate and counterbalance these things that a “normal” life is totally possible. Your illness doesn’t have to define you. In fact, accepting it and addressing it strips it of its power. It becomes something you can handle instead of something that controls your world.

There is another side, and it’s possible get there. If you’re keeping your struggles to yourself, get help. If you haven’t found the right mix of meds and counseling yet, stick with it. You can defeat this thing, and you don’t have to go it alone.

I may not write about this subject again for months or even years. Because I don’t think I need to. That simple statement, in and of itself, speaks volumes.


Image:  Chelsea Gomez

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  • Bold, and in our faces, as usual Kelly. The first thing I noticed was how you connected bi-polar disorder with “craziness.” I don’t think they are the same. You have a certain wackiness in your outlook that is unique and fun. One can see it in how you post. I think your wackiness and what you call “craziness” are what should be connected, at least publicly. And no apologies for having a different, slightly wacky take on things is necessary. Taking on bi-polar disorder and publicly admitting it is part of your mien is courageous and, as I said, bold. That seems to be who you are, at least on these pages.
    I don’t connect BP with being crazy, unless of course you decide to go out and shoot up a mall or a school or a theatre. Then, yes, you definitely are whacked. I suspect many more people throughout history were actually bi-polar. We are just way more aware of it today. Your BP is merely part of your history, just as your lactose intolerance and your aversion to cleaning the house. It is part of you but doesn’t define you solely. You are so much more. And I, for one, appreciate that. Thanks for sharing. As always, a worthwhile time here at CCIQ.

    • You raise an interesting point, Christian. I’ve actually claimed the term “craziness” with that very spin in mind. Because it’s such a charged, and largely negative, word, I’ve adopted it proudly to show people that a) it’s not as scary and awful as it sounds, and b) the stigma is silly and it’s time we stand up to it. You are astute, my friend!

  • Amy

    I love that you take the word “crazy,” which is so emotionally charged and stereotyped, and reframe it into something completely average. Thanks for the reminder!

  • I’m sure just getting it out there to the internet made you feel even more relieved as well, admitting it to the whole world! It was awesome to read and takes a lot to just throw yourself out there.

    Please excuse me ignorance to bi-polar(ism?) but does diet have any affect on how and when ‘moods’ come? I ask because, my family has a history of taking and abusing pills, my grandmother is taking like 9 pills a day prescribed from her doctors, where she could get the same value from those pills if she just ate a healthy diet.

    It would be interesting to learn about yourself on how you feel mentally each day depending on what you eat, maybe certain foods trigger bi-polar in positive or negative ways.

    Or maybe I’m just the one who is crazy haha, this is just what I thought about while reading your post!

    • Great question. I love when people want to know more!

      There’s a lot that can influence mood swings, and as with any condition, diet certainly can play a factor. For instance, if I ate like crap for a few weeks, my body would naturally feel draggier, and that could lead to (or add to) feelings of lowness. If I drink a ton of caffeine, it can amplify manic feelings.

      I wouldn’t say any particular diet “triggers” BP symptoms, that I know of, but as with anything, the better you treat your body (eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep), the easier it is for you to keep yourself in line and deal with anything that comes up. And I always advocate eating well over taking a ton of pills to compensate for poor eating. The less meds you have in your body that you don’t need to have, the better off you are in general, I think — whether you’re crazy or not!

  • Great big {{{hugs}}} and HappyDancing for and with you, Kelly!

    My flavor of crazy is AD(H)D-ish – and like you did, I’m making steady strides in figuring it out, dealing with warps in my world-views and my ideas about myself resulting from it, and talking about it but still deflecting the labels (which scare me). Because of circumstances when I was growing up, I’d probably’ve been put on the Asperger’s Spectrum, too. And, ’cause of all that, I readily slump into “overwhelmed” and “depressed”. (They seem to go together like chocolate and cherries!)
    I crazy-love your un-dramatic way of “talking about it”, too. 🙂

    • I’m happy to hear you’re learning how to deal with your own personal crazies. 🙂 I firmly believe most people have a touch of *something*, and those of us that have more than a touch? We can actually consider ourselves lucky in that we’re aware of it and striving to actively learn how to live with it.

      Don’t let yourself get down over it — you are super-freakin’ awesome just the way you are. 🙂

  • AtotheDawg

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