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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