On bipolar…


I posted this on http://forfreepsychology.wordpress.com/  Like it here, like it there.  🙂

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rollercoaster

I am not Bipolar.  I have Bipolar.  It is not me, and I live with it, but I do not allow it to have me.

I know, this is all quibbling with language, but when we use language to think, to define ourselves and who we are, our words and their meanings become vital.  All to often, people are classified, or classify themselves as “Bipolar”, as if it were a nationality, culture, heritage or something that defines who we are.

I refuse.

Cancer patients don’t call themselves,”Cancerous”, although Cancer decides much of what they do and how they live.  They have Cancer.  Some lie down and allow their lives to go the way they go.  Some fight tooth and nail.  Some ignore it completely, living with it to the end.  There may be an exception somewhere to this, but I haven’t met anyone who said,”I am cancerous.”  They have it.

So, that’s my attitude.  It’s not for everyone, and if you are a “Bipolar” and embrace it, then good for you.  It’s not for me.

How do I fight?

First of all, I take the position that, despite the way my decision making abilities are tied to my emotion and energy and the way that they don’t always make any rational sense, I am the decision maker here.  If I choose to start behaving in a way that is a danger to myself or someone else, I made that choice.  I own it.  It may have been a poor choice, and may have been helped along by having Bipolar, but I made the decision to do X.  No one made me do it but me.

This position has it’s good and bad points.  It allows me to claim control over something, when internally it’s as if I’m mostly an observer.  Society appears to be all in favor of me lying down and claiming,”But, I’m bipolar, and I am out of control.”  I don’t want that.  I am 36 years old.  I’m a father, and if one of my kids says,”I was out of control”, as a parent, I still punish them for acting badly.  I have more control than a 4 or 8 or 12 year old, even if that control extends only to,”This is getting too hard, I need help.”  It allows me to live and be productive and helpful and a positive influence on my friends and family.  It makes me “happy”.

Secondly, I pay attention.  I pay a LOT of attention to what is going on with me internally.  For example:  Right now, I am a tad stressed, but not bad.  I’m on an “upswing” towards a potential hypo or hyper manic phase, but I won’t know how far it will go until I get there, but I know it bears careful attention to my sleeping patterns and closer scrutiny of decision making.  My chest has that odd “excitement/panic/fear/happiness” tingle to it.  My muscles are “sparkly” as I describe it, that sensation of when the adrenalin is about to drop into your system before a competitive race or something.  My thoughts are quick, but not racing, yet.  This all means that my patience is less, my temper is shorter, and I should probably not make any major decisions on my own and without reflection right now.

I know what I need to do, and the decision is mine as to whether to do the things that will allow me to continue to live and be a “good” influence on those around me or not.

Third, I try to focus my energy on things that are intangible , if I have an excess.  If I am manic and not sleeping, I will try to make myself consider philosophical thoughts, and if possible, engage someone in discussion.  Maybe I’ll pay attention to a social issue, and research it until I feel that I can come to a reasonable conclusion.  Maybe I’ll work on some creative writing.  I know that, me being me, I should try to avoid people that might take advantage of my heightened energy and such until it calms down.

I know what you may be thinking,”That’s not what so many other people say/think/write”.  Nope.  It’s not.  This is what works for me and how I think.

Should Bipolar be fought against or embraced?  I think that’s a decision each of us has to make on our own.  To me, embracing bipolar means “riding the roller coaster”, or more accurately, trying to form my life to where the roller coaster takes me.  If it were just me that I was responsible for, this might be a reasonable choice for me, but other people are effected by everything I say and do.  I choose to accept this responsibility to those people I love and care about and try to set aside my own feelings as I can.

Sometimes, it gets to be too much, and I have to tell everyone that I must take a break.  They can react how they like, but sometimes I have to tell the rest of the world that, for a little while, they can all go hang, or they will be without my influence.  This is a complication to the way I deal with life that the average “boss” will not accept or understand, and that’s ok.  I live within the means that I am able to create for myself or have access to.

I am an individual.  I am not Bipolar, I have it.  It does not define me, that is something I choose.  I do not fit into the “bipolar” category.  I don’t think that anyone really does.  Sometimes I am up so high that the world seems distant and beside the point.  Sometimes I’m so low that the world is monster threatening to destroy me.  It is not those times where I can do this stuff on my own.

So, I work on it.  I think through things, to the point that I research and plan things to the point of it being ridiculous at times.  My thought process is slow and complex, as I sort through information and determine the importance of it in order to come to a decision.  The way I do things internally doesn’t work out very well if I choose to follow an unplanned impulse.  I don’t do well in oral conversation, not having time to think about what I’m trying to say or having an easy way to rewind what has been said and make sure that my own impressions are accurate.  It allows me to live, though, and I’m used to it now.

There have been times I was in a hospital because, well, that’s where the rollercoaster had taken me.  I rode the rollercoaster into a dark, seemingly unending depression, or a manic phase dotted with delusions and hallucinations, or worse, into some bizarre mix of hyperactivity and depression, or a complete lack of energy and a nice dose of racing thoughts and grand ideas that, while grand, were impossible.

It has not been an easy road.  I did not get to this point at the flip of a switch or by taking a magic pill.  I have been fighting for 20 years since my first episode.  Therapy, meds of various kinds, and lots and lots of internal work and thought and reflection.

I know that it only takes a small slip to wind up back in a hospital, so I am careful.  If I see that I am on the way “up” or “down” or otherwise entering a realm where my decisions may not be the greatest, I try to act ahead of time, talking to people who will help me to make good decisions and good choices that allow me to continue.  If the help I get in “public” is not enough, then I may seek something more intensive, but I avoid that option if possible.

I am not bipolar.  I have it.  It does not define me.  I do that.  This is my mantra.  Every day that I wake up and lead a relatively normal appearing existence is a success.  Every day that I wake up and simply live, exist, function enough to get things done that make others’ lives easier is a success.  The only failure, for me, is to board the rollercoaster and raise my hands and let life happen to me.

Will it work for you?  That’s up to you.  Do I think anyone else should or should not choose to fight and live as I do?  No.  That’s up to you and your life and situation.  This is mine though.

It’s my life.  Because I am not bipolar.  I am me.  I am an individual.  I can not be defined as bipolar any more than I can define you as bipolar.  Who you are is your choice.  It may be the only choice you get to make, so make the choice that will make you happy and that will allow you to live as well as possible.

But, I define myself, and I am not bipolar.  I have it.

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🙂

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206 Comments

Filed under Mental Health, Philosophical Q&A, Thoughts

206 responses to “On bipolar…

  1. You don’t like it, but you have it. I think this is really a great post. You accepted that you have it though it’s hard of course. I hope you’ll battle this challenge with your support system. With your situation, you can be an inspiration for others with the same situation as yours. 🙂

  2. I can really relate with your comments, I have bipolar it does not have me. I have fought for years to live a normal life. I know people the have given up and collected SSI. I am a college student and finishing my freshman year with a 3.79 GPA. I do relate to the way you describe how your mind makes decisions. I went without my meds from 2002 until 2008 and now trying to clean up the mess I have made in my life. The guilt is the worst part of dealing with this disorder. You know that you have made these decisions in your unmediated haze.

    • Guilt can be a good thing, though. It drives us away from otherwise negative things. As you say, you are now trying to “clean up the mess”, and I suspect that you know the mess could have been avoided.

      Guilt can become a raging and unreasonable monster, too. Don’t let it do that. The only way I can fight off the guilt is to look at the present and future and say,”I’m not making the mistakes of the past” and go on.

      Please, let the past be the past. If you need to talk or anything, get in touch. 🙂

  3. I have bipolar and I agree, it does not define who I am nor does it name me me. I am however at a stand still with whether to seek help beyond family be it therapy or the one thing I don’t like medication or ride it out and see what happens. I can pinpoint mostly when I feel my up ride and I try to take detours but at times it doesn’t work

    • You would have to be the judge of that, but here’s an easy test to help you decide. Sit down with the people who are closest to you and simply ask them for the truth. “Do you think I would benefit from professional help?”

      If you decide to get professional help, you have to be your own advocate and researcher. “Getting help” does not work in psychiatry unless the person seeking the help works to make sure the doctors are as fully aware as possible about what is going on with you. It’s hard work, but it can be rewarding. It can even make it so that life gets a bit better.

      Some people, one med of one type in the form of one pill daily, and they’re all good. (There’s a comment on this post somewhere from a guy who says he’s bipolar and that’s all he needs.) Some people have symptoms that are stronger, that create agony for them, and they take multiple meds to combat the worst of those symptoms, usually in addition to a mood stabilizer.

      If you choose the other route, to go without medications and without other help, well, some people can do it. Just try to be kind to yourself and try to be aware of how the things you do are effecting those around you.

      Let me just say that the “no meds” route is probably harder on you and everyone around you. The medication route-it’s very easy to slip into overmedication.

      I hope this helps. This is probably one of the toughest decisions for people who have bipolar.

      • I’ve seen a psychologist and was told I need medicine help and therapy as well. I just don’t want end up as medicine zombie

      • That’s the standard by-line, and to be expected from psychologists and psychiatrists. Answer me this, though: What do you want to treat? Do you just want your mood a bit more stable? Try a mood stabilizer, and only a mood stabilizer. They suck, they have side-effects, but if your highs and lows are killing you, they can give you relief. If you tend toward depression, a “passive” anti-depressant may be a real help, one that is more of a bulwark against the dark than something that pushes you “up”, you know? For mania, well, they usually only really treat severe mania with a “right now” medication, but it might be worth talking to them about ritalin-it will help you focus your racing thoughts, even though it will hype you up, or an anti-anxiety med like klonopin, that will help you to be calm when it feels like you are shaking apart internally.

        All of it depends on what you personally experience, and you have to be ready to “stand up” to the doctors who “know what’s best for you”. Some are really good, some are not, and they have to base every med on what we tell them. Some will listen to what you say and suggest about your own treatment, some won’t. If they won’t, well, find one that will(a process that sucks, but one that can save you from that zombification).

        Seriously, if I can help, let me know. I don’t remember if my email is floating around the site somewhere, but here it is: misterhamtastic@gmail.com

        Also-check out sites like http://forfreepsychology.wordpress.com/ they can help as well.

  4. Thanks for this beautiful piece. You shine a light on a topic that’s dear to my heart, and help me understand someone I care about a little better. It’s hard to know how to best love someone who has bipolar (I love that way of thinking about it) while still maintaining my own happiness and boundaries.

  5. Your writing is wonderful and you did a fantastic job giving us something to think about. Shared it on Twitter. 🙂

  6. This is truly amazing, how inspiring.
    My mother had bipolar and MS and it got the better of her until she couldn’t stand it any longer and she found the only option was suicide.
    The past year and a half after her death has been hard but I never let it pull me down. Around 90% of my family have bipolar and I’ve accepted the fact it may be a possibility for me but I am not afraid.
    Thank you for this, you amazing person

  7. Listen guy, no disrespect here, but I think you have a bit more going on here then being Bi-Polar. Lithium (at correct levels) and as long as you take it consistently gets rid of 99% of what you are describing here, the highs, lows, manic episodes. It seems what you are doing here is living with something and trying to outsmart it by saying your little mantra’s and hoping you can win (which is bi-polar as hell).

    People make this Bi-Polar thing out to be such a big deal, I’ve had it for years and as long as I take the ole white pill everyday, I’m fine, no sleepless nights, no depression, no maxing my credit cards out going on spending spree’s.

    I hate to burst your bubble but here is the bottom line on Bi-Polar, it’s a chemical imbalance due to the lack of lithium your body is creating, take the lithium and go and live your life. A lot of people like us stop taking the medications cause they think they can handle it on there own , well you can’t. I hate to say it but you sound like one of those people.

    • I understand where you are coming from, but I’d like you to consider this:

      Are all headaches that everyone suffers experienced and dealt with in the same way? A headache is a headache, and so long as I take an aspirin it does me fine, and headaches just aren’t that big a deal.

      Does this seem like something that is true, to you?

      I look forward to your response! 🙂

  8. Thank you for your post. Your courage is inspiring.

  9. This is a wonderful post. I do not have bipolar, but I have different mental struggles that I face, and I found this very heartening. You are a great example of how to take responsibility and control of the condition you have, so thank you for sharing it.

  10. fujitsu1522

    What a brilliant Pieace of writing, I have a niece who has scitzophrinia now under control, in her early stages when admitted to hospital used to go on walks with a former patient going as far as smashing vehicles up, now out of hospital many years down the line, yes she dresses like an hippy, but doing her own thing, not putting anyone to harm, but recently her twenty eight year old Daughter living with and brought up by her grandparents, as been diagnosed with Bi Polar, she’s now thinking its not that, she’s very clever girl, just like her Mother, and she reads reads lots, and she says after reading lots of research she doesn’t feel that she as Bi Polar, I wonder if there’s something that you say would actually decide without doubt that she as Bi Polar? I don’t know much about this Disorder if that’s what we call it? Not sure that’s the correct discription, but it’s not stopped her achieving she was studying veterinary surgery, and she walked through all her courses with Distintions, but then her first week at Uni she just had a Deep low and one of the staff had to sit all night in the gym with her until her Grandparents picked her up, to get so far and then Bang she broke down after a silly conversation with some stupid Cow, on if all we can do is go drinking Every night, then how can one study.
    So this is all I know of her condition, it’s my Nieces Daughter, and we do chat, she’s easy to chat too. I wonder if you can throw some light onto this or is there to little information to go on?
    Thanks for any help you can provide, and I think your brilliant the way you take this illness by the Bull’s Horns and not let it win you….

    • denial is also a symptom of the disease. It seems like some people get out of it and some people don’t. I’m not sure why. She’ll never get better if she doesn’t accept it. Some people die without ever thinking there is anything wrong with them. I wish there was a clear answer. When people close to you have this- family the people you don’t choose- its very hard not to see them as bipolar. Because when they refuse to properly treat it, it is who they are. It is a big part of their personality and because of that it becomes an important factor in other peoples reactions. Best wishes for your neices daughter I hope she is able to do what is best for herself.

      • I dunno, I can’t really agree with that. Denial is a symptom of, well, everything, isn’t it? People deny they have a cold after sneezing sometimes, even if they have all the other symptoms. In order to get better from anything, you have to face that you have “something” that needs to get better.

        In other words, what you say has merit, I just disagree with the whole “denial is a symptom” thing.

        🙂

    • Hmmm. Well, Let me start off with this: I’m not a psychiatrist. 🙂 That said, though, my experience having bipolar will not necessarily be like anyone else’s.
      If you take a look at the DSM(The psychiatrist’s bible), it can give you symptoms that tend to show up when someone has bipolar, but even then, you can’t be entirely sure.
      There’s no blood test. There’s nothing I would personally point to that I could say is a guaranteed “tell” that someone has bipolar.
      I would say that it comes down to this:
      1) What is she experiencing? Does she think she has a problem at all?
      2) Has she done any kind of research? If so, what does she think it is?

      When you go to a psychiatrist, they listen to you, and then they basically use trial and error with medications. When they find a set of medications that “work” and those meds fit into a treatment for a diagnosis, the diagnosis settles down.

      For me, I started off diagnosed with clinical depression. This turned into a diagnosis of dysthymia and anxiety. After that, I got a diagnosis for borderline personality disorder. I stopped going to doctors for awhile, and then flaked out, and they started trying to treat me with a mood stabilizer. This seemed to help, and I had the diagnosis of bipolar 2. I told a doctor about some of the weirder things I experienced, and schizoid tendencies were attached. I saw another doctor after a while, one that would listen to me(which is sadly rare) and after some long discussions we settled, together, on the diagnosis I have now. Bipolar 1(which means I have true “manic” episodes, 2 meant I didn’t.) Psychotic features(not something I talk about much, but it means I see and hear things that aren’t necessarily there sometimes, and when at an extreme high or low I may wander from grandiose thoughts to real delusions.) Borderline personality disorder is not something I expect to come off my diagnosis, because it’s more of an explanation of coping skills, and it basically says that my first thought on how to cope is seldom the best.

      Over 20 years, I’ve been on Prozac, Adderall, Seroquel, Klonopin, Depakote, Lithium, Prazosin, Wellbutrin, Risperdal, Ritalin… and those are just the ones I can think of right off hand. Right now, I take Lithium, Ritalin(mostly to combat the complete lack of energy on “lows”, and the sleepiness that is a side effect of meds), Seroquel, and Wellbutrin. In a year, it may change.

      I tell you all of this to say that physical and mental medicine are such radically different things that there’s no way for me to really point to one thing that defines what she has as bipolar. Even though I have mania sometimes, that doesn’t “guarantee” the diagnosis.

      In the end, the best thing I can say is that it’s really up to her. If she thinks there is something wrong, then she should talk to someone and start the process. Therapists will help decide if this is a “situational” thing(which means that she freaked out about something that will pass) or not. Based on what they say, they would either recommend she see them more often, or send her up to an”ist”. Psychologist or Psychiatrist.

      None of that can even start unless she is willing to decide whether or not she has a problem to begin with. Tell you what, have her read this and get in touch. I’d be happy to help her in any way that I can. 🙂

  11. Glad I found this post. It interests me in two ways: 1) I strongly suspect someone close to me is undiagnosed bipolar and 2) because of that it interested me so that I’ve created a character in my current screenplay that “has it” (learned that phraseology from you, thanks! Love how your take on this can color my character and give her a deeply unique outlook to her situation – hope you don’t mind me “stealing” your philosophy for that purpose!).

    You sound like a very level-headed, logical person, and I commend you for finding the wisdom and strength to use those traits to overcome your situation as best you can (or at least adapt to — as you say, ride the rollercoaster, great analogy!).

    • You are welcome to the phraseology, philosophy or anything else here! 🙂 Thank you for the compliments as well!

      If there’s anything I can do to help you with, let me know. 🙂

  12. Your writing is very inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

  13. topqualitynonsence

    A very thought provoking post, I enjoyed it immensely! If only more people could adopt this attitude in their approach to all things, the world would be a better place. I think ultimately, it comes down to taking ownership of ourselves, and that should apply to all aspects of our lives.

    I look forward to reading more from you!

    Emma

    • Yes! I agree with you. I sort of wonder if everyone couldn’t use a bit more introspection in their lives, I just hope that they get to a point that they use it WITHOUT having bipolar or anything. 🙂

  14. Thank you for your honesty – I have Bipolar II. I was diagnosed a few months ago but I’ve been “different” since I was a child. 🙂

    • It’s my pleasure! Having Bipolar 2 is tough, but just remember a couple of things:

      1) You decide your actions.
      2) No matter what you are feeling, your actions need to match what is happening around you.
      3) When your insides are out of control, see 1. 🙂

      One of the things that has helped me with my illness has been some intense private study of philosophy. I felt sooo…. powerless. I was trapped on a roller coaster that wouldn’t stop.

      I have a post you might like, it’s pretty complex, but it helps me, anyway. 🙂

      https://cogitabunda.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/solipsism-and-mental-healththis-may-give-you-a-headache/

      Check it out! If there’s anything I can do for ya, let me know! 🙂

      • I have grown up with it, especially during puberty when my monthly visitor screwed up my emotions (and body) all the time. I’ve learned to anticipate the change and pamper myself emotionally (not take things so seriously). I’m also a yogi which helps me stay centered.

      • Wow! I bet you could teach someone like me quite a bit about things, then. 🙂 Any advice for how to mentally work with some of the phycalities of having a mental illness or anything?

      • For me, I need a routine to keep me focused. As a college educator, I had the structure of a syllabus. Now I organize my day in intervals – exercise, meds, writing time, extracurriculars

  15. I also have a mental disorder. I have schizophrenia. But I do not worry about it anymore. I live life and ready. It’s what we do. The important thing is to be happy!

  16. Congratulations on being ‘pressed’! This article certainly deserves it. I love your definition of yourself, and how you monitor your well being and take responsibility for your choices. I wonder if you are aware that this is what we should all be doing? Practising self awareness and learning to take responsibility moves us from being victims of the ‘things that happen to us’ to people who develop a sense of wonder and gratitude for the human condition. You are leading the way and I am sure you are and will continue to be a wonderful role model for your children. From my own life experience, I know that there is nothing in life that is insurmountable and that forgiveness [of ourselves and others] is a door that opens to new possibilities…. I look forward to reading more from you in future posts.

    • Thank you for reading it. I think introspection is vital to living a reasonable life, and I wish more people would consider themselves and their own choices as things that are important to consider. I just don’t see it happening much in society, you know?

      Sometimes it makes me think,”I may have bipolar, but the normal people in society are worse off, because they think everything they are doing is reasonable and makes sense.” lol 🙂

  17. theyellowranger

    I appreciated this post.

  18. I admire your clarity — and your sense of responsibility.

    My mother began having episodes (mania) when I was 12…She was hospitalized many times. it is now decades later and the absolute terror of seeing your primary caregiver in the throes of madness is not something one can forget, even if one would wish it. So the larger challenge, if you have kids, is to take absolutely meticulous care of yourself because they are small, weak and vulnerable to everyone’s moods — and a manic episode (like) a depressed one — is very frightening. She often (which is “normal”) refused to take her medication. Much as I have compassion for wanting to stay lucid, the insanity and nightmares (legal, physical, emotional) that ensued were really horrific.

    Be whatever you wish. Choose whatever label feels best. But, please, never ever forget that other people are affected, deeply and permanently, by witnessing a parent who is, at that moment, out of control and not in their right mind.

    • I totally agree. My kids were very young when I was at my worst, but they were still effected. It’s hard to learn to pause, think about what is going on and what effect it will have on those around you, but it’s a vital lesson that every parent needs to learn.

      Whether you have Bipolar or are simply having a bad day, everything you do effects those who love you.

      Thank you for posting!

      • I hope at some point you are able to have a conversation with them about it, if you have not already and if they are able to talk about it. A great deal of my anger with my mother was the terror this imposed on me, with no one to turn to, and she has never apologized or stopped to consider how it affected me, then and now. I cannot be around people who are emotionally volatile or unpredictable…too many memories of mania.

      • Oh yeah! I make it a big point to hold them and myself to a similar standard when it comes to this thought. “You are in control of your actions, whether you are in control of your feelings or not. If your actions are good, great. If not, then we’ll have to have a talk and maybe repercussions. We can always talk about what is going on inside.”

        I have also made sure they know that they can talk (reasonably and calmly) with me about anything. If they have a problem with current or past events, they are welcome to talk to me about it. When those discussions have come, the ones who were old enough to remember the bad times have been apologized to, profusely. I think it helps them to know that, not only am I not perfect, I know that I’m not. I don’t expect perfection of them, but they know that reasonable behavior is still expected of them just as it is me. 🙂

      • All I can say is bless you. Best of luck to you…

  19. Inspiring piece of writing. A thousand hugs to you! Keep writing.

    Cheers.
    Supertramp.

  20. I applaud you for taking the subject head on and handling it. No one can call you an ostrich. Kudos!

  21. Reblogged this on the tao of jaklumen and commented:
    This sums up my experience right to a T. I have bipolar mood disorder, but it is not me. Just like chronic pain is not me. I have a “slow and complex” thought process, too, but it is not me either. They are factors, filters. And I like how this author emphasizes owning his behavior.
    Pain is more a factor for me right now, but… doubly important! And yet so hard sometimes. My Dr. Banner/Jekyll still has to clean up what my Mr. “The Hulk” Hyde smashed.

    I am 39 today. I wish I was this sanguine when I was 36. But I remind myself I am a work in progress, and others are a work in progress, too (even when I want to smack them).

  22. Thank you for this encouraging post. I totally share your attitude. I too am not mentally ill but have the psychiatric disorders. I rewrite your statement “when we use language to think, to define ourselves and who we are, our words and their meanings become vital” to my notebook. Thank you for the post once again. I would greatly appreciate your visit to my blog. I eagerly look forward to your comments on my writings. Welcome to http://arthiker.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/a-riddle/

  23. Love this piece. I have a family member who wields her bipolar like a weapon, terrorising the people who love her and taking no responsibility whatsoever for her actions. I wish she could read this.

    • A lot of people choose that path. It’s the easier path, I have to admit. It’s easy to lie down, to rest on your diagnosis as an excuse to pretty much do whatever you want. “I’m bipolar and that’s just how bipolars are” is that mindset, in my opinion. That’s why I make a big deal about the difference.

      Maybe… I’m no psychiatrist, but I would have to just keep asking her,”Why do you want to be controlled by bipolar? What are you doing to fight it? Do you want to?” Then again, I suspect that I’m not the greatest “therapist” material. I only know what works for me.

      If I were “being that person”, I think I would have to hope one of two things. 1) That someone, somewhere would stand up to me and say,”You choose your behavior. If you refuse to choose, then maybe you should look into long term institutionalization or something.” or 2) That no one would say a thing and I’d be able to get whatever I wanted while everyone tiptoed around me and I behaved like a tyrant.

      I know how harsh that sounds. I would not say it if I had never been at that point. It’s tough to do, and breaks your heart, but I have had to tell people to go on and exit my life stage left, simply because they were a destructive influence.

      You be good to yourself. Stand up for yourself, too, ok? 🙂

      • Thanks so much for this. Your wise words have come at a very good time. It’s a complicated scenario because it’s my younger sister and my parents get angry with me if I’m anything but unconditionally loving and accepting. If I try to say no and look after myself and my own family I get blamed for being unfeeling/uncaring. I get that it’s partly guilt on their part, but it’s a difficult thing to manage. Right now I’m the villain for recently setting up a boundary – a scenario which happens fairly often. Anyhow, really just wanted to say thank you again 🙂

  24. I agree, you should not be defined by whatever illness you suffer with. It’s something you have to live with, not who you are.

    My father suffered with bipolar also.

    • It goes a step further than “living with it”. Think about this-if you have a tick, you can live with it, or you can fight it and pluck it off. Bipolar-while you can’t make it go away, you can choose to act within reasonable boundaries. It’s a hard thing to learn, and takes time, but it can be done. Thank you for your comment. 🙂

  25. springtimerose

    I am inspired by your writing, and I am inspired by your attitude. Stay awesome 🙂

  26. Bipolar episodes are unpredictable, sometimes, while at other times a stressor is a red flag, periscope up, all-preparations mode, that allows me a bit of time (not much) to ‘organize’ myself.
    I agree that it does not define an individual and those that understand it’s heinous travesties. The injustice to the suffering is defined by the stigma associated with any mental illness.
    Being bipolar is not an excuse, but rather, it is a definition of an ailment that affects people predestined by genetics and possibly accerbated by environmental dynamics not yet fully understood.

    • I so agree. A phrase that comes to mind is that, people who have bipolar are not broken. More often than not, they are tempered by their illness. Some become more brittle, true, but some become stronger. I think that that idea is a part of this choice. I’m still on the brittle side, but I hope that I am getting stronger with time, but I know that it is my choice that will decide which end of that spectrum I end up with. Thank you for commenting.

      • Just remember, you do not walk alone. We are responsible for our behavior, but not for our disease.

        I am only as strong as the moment I live within, and sometimes my brittleness shatters me. I do break, but I heal, I become stronger, more attuned to this world. But I also must realize that there is the ebb and flow of life that I do not have the power to control.
        To take the stress away, I use my coping mechanisms (walks, talking with a close friend, listening to music, the quiet things that remove me from the mayhem).
        Take care. Be kind to yourself.

  27. mrszrs

    I really like way you constantly reinforce how you are not a diagnostic label, you are a person who uses a diagnostic label as a tool to help monitor and maintain your health. I also relate to some of your discussion about needing to be closely in touch with how your body is behaving. Or how you can’t be around certain types of people when you’re in certain places psychologically. I have PTSD, so I have a to maintain my nervous system and regulate my environment and I have to choose, daily, whether or not to cope well with the symptoms that present themselves. I appreciate the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a fellow warrior spirit engaging in life.

    • It’s something that has to be reinforced every day, for me. It’s so easy to slip into the mode of thinking that I have no power, that I am a victim. This road is harder, I think, but it adds value and meaning to my life, and will hopefully allow me to be valuable to others. Thank you for your comment! 🙂

  28. Reblogged this on Ginger Musings and commented:
    Well worth reading. I found it quite insightful to say the least.

  29. The journey of learning how to reflect on yourself, your actions, your emotions and how everything is connected takes a tremendous amount of courage, time and energy. Many choose to distract themselves instead. Posts like these are an inspiration

    • Thank you for your kind words. Like I said, this has been a road of 20 years, not all of which was well spent. I hope it inspires someone else to save themselves a few years trying to work it out.

  30. This is strong and beautiful Truth. Thank you so much for sharing this with the world. I’ll be sharing this with as many people as I can.

    Again, thank you for helping the world understand.

    Be well,
    Steve

  31. Six years ago, a doctor suspected I had bipolar and recommended me for further checks at another hospital. After speaking to me the nurses decided I was just going through a separation and I did not even had a chance to be analysed by the doctor. Today, I still often times felt the high and the lows in life but since I was told I was not bi polar, I lived my life believing I am bi polar free. Your post is awesome and indeed you may have bi polar but of course you are NOT bi polar. We don’t live by the label and indeed you have empowered yourself and you are in control. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you fro reading and sharing yourself! Even someone suggesting that it “might be” that you have bipolar is enough to make you question your every twitch of mood or emotion. I hope you are doing well. 🙂

  32. Defining yourself from a place of strength and moving through life with conscious accountability is a lesson we can all embrace. Well said.

    • Thank you for your kind comment! I agree, but sometimes I think that it’s not something that people want to do, because it’s not an easy thing to “own” what you do, you know? Even the “normal” people out there, so many are so quick to blame someone else for their lives and decisions, rather than just claiming it as all their own.

  33. Damn good job!!
    I too have bipolar, and now have decided to say it that way as you do because it is so fitting. I am enjoying the best years of my life at age 71. Started to medicate in my 50’s and wish I had know what the hell was going on with me before that. Does not matter now as my life is better than it has ever been and I am enjoying every day of it. Thank you for your excellent words young father, and all the best you you for the rest of your life.
    Bill Pokins

    • Thank you so much! The very fact that you are 71 with bipolar is heartening to me. It means… It goes on. Life continues and having bipolar is something that can be lived with, someone has done it. The rest of us can do it, too. Thank you so much for commenting!

  34. I loved reading about your thought process and the way you overcame a psychological impediment. A very uplifting read to be sure! I look forward to your ups and downs and how both situations affect your writing and better judgement.

    Sincerely,

    J.G.B.

  35. I think you make a great point and we should be more mindful of how we define ourselves. We all have different qualities and it is up to us if we want to embrace or fight against them. I give you kudos for making the decision of not letting this take over your life and understanding that you have the power. You have gain and sharpened other skills that allow you to take ownership and control. You  have a great attitude and great outlook on life. Best to you. 

  36. jordypama

    wow… interesting to read these thoughts! Thanks for this!

  37. Totally agree. It’s so important to differentiate between “I am bipolar” and “I have bipolar.” I wish the general culture understood this, too…

    • Thank you. Maybe more people will understand this some day, but as long as it continues to be “They/He/She is bipolar”, the mindset won’t really changed. It is a stereotype like every other stereotype out there. 🙂

  38. Beautifully written.
    By embracing the fact that you have bipolar, you’ve empowered yourself that you’re in control, not the disease.
    Good for you.

    MJ :).

    • Nobody will ever fight something that they refuse to believe is real. You have to accept that in order to fight in the first place, but so many suggest that you have to embrace the illness itself. Sometimes they do it, not even realizing it, and they may have the best of intentions and a good message. So long as people are putting everyone that has bipolar into a box marked “bipolar people”, they will immediately assume that every bipolar person is all of the things described by the media and such as the diagnosis.

      The disease itself fights against a person with bipolar attempting to take control and fight, because the disease is all about having no control of internal and intangible things.

      Thank you!

  39. 1wanderingtruthseeker

    I’m bi-polar and fifty four years old. It took me until I was forty seven years old before I started taking meds for it. I always had well paying jobs, but not for long. I blew up my life every chance I got. I have been married six times. I refused to except the diagnois because that was for “crazy people”. I am on meds now. I don’t like the way they make me feel tired and drugged out, but at least I don’t have the depressions so bad that make me feel that suicide is the only way out or feel the need to get out of my car and explain the rules of driving to ignorant people.

    • Amen. It’s hard to sit down and accept that you have what is basically an intangible illness. In order to fight in the first place, though, you have to accept it is there. If I see you around, explaining the rules of driving, I’ll stop by and invite you to come chasing squirrels with me. 😉

  40. I think the way you speak with clarity and definition are powerful things. I really enjoyed your article. I’m glad you shared,

    ~

  41. I’m not bipolar either. Just have a really awful life – and am more keenly aware of that fact at some times than at others. You can explain just about anything that way.

    • True, but let me ask you something. Just as I have to choose whether or not to “ride the roller coaster”, you can choose whether the things in your life are awful enough to go through the hell that we call “change”. Are there things that you could change? What are they? Sometimes it’s something drastic, like drop everything, move to a new city and start over. Sometimes it’s something smaller, like making sure you take some time every day to do something that you can get some enjoyment from. The decision is still a decision, and you get to choose how things go.

  42. CombatBabe

    I wrote a post similar to this last year. Great minds think alike. 🙂 Congrats on your Freshly Press!

  43. Wonderful post, thanks for sharing these thoughts.

  44. hey A. im biplar too!

    bipolar II 😉

    • Very well written as well as imformative! Like a lot of people I lived my whole life on a rollercoaster. I am 56 now, but I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 49. That meant that I spent 30 something years as an addict & alchoholic looking for relief from the depression, and rocking hard on the highs! I spent the last 6 years clean & sober, but I was either in a near zombie state, or anything but normal. I have finally learned to recongnize the triggers that start my depression, or highs, and to deal with them non-medicated. I don’t recommend this to everyone, I just wanted to find out if there were others like me? I hated the medications….all of them! I have been blessed. With a lot of hard work & studying I have been able to find some insight into me & how I tick.
      Thanks for letting me share this
      Rev. Brother James Bradshaw

      • Going without meds is tough, but I’ll be rooting for you. Just don’t be scared to have some “on standby” if things get too hairy. You’d take something if you had a headache, having something non-habit forming to take for a strong manic or depression only makes sense, to me. Thank you for commenting!

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