today is world bipolar day and I want to write something, though I’m not quite sure what to write.
a couple of years ago,
I would have stayed as far away from this day as possible; I absolutely wouldn’t have acknowledged it– I thought bipolar was a bad word and I didn’t want to be associated with it.
today, I feel differently, but it was a long road to get here.
a long road of not really understanding what this illness meant to me, wondering if it defined me or changed me, or what it said about my chances of living a satisfying life.
I’m still often unsure of all of these things, only now I hold the word a little closer.
I’ve spent a lot of time admonishing diagnostic categories, yet somehow I’ve found a lot of comfort in this one.
I’ve found writers and artists and friends who share it and who all have this gift of profound attunement to the fluctuations of the universe beyond what the rest of the world sees.
sometimes I worry I’m romanticizing. bipolar is not a super power though I think sometimes I tell myself it is in order to cope.
but it is a different way of seeing– a way of seeing I’m growing to appreciate and understand and make friends with. to embrace it, but not let it rule me. when I was first diagnosed, I was horrified.
I thought bipolar
was synonymous with totally fucking crazy and didn’t really see a way to
transcend that word. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t want it to be. I
was self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to the point that I hardly knew
where I was. I was going through packs of cigarettes faster that I could get to
the gas station to buy new ones. I couldn’t wear short sleeves anymore because
I had so many cuts on my arms. I stopped going to class, stopped leaving my
room, stopped turning the lights on. I only ate whatever I could get out of the
vending machine which was usually cheetos or a hershey bar that I would spit
the almonds out of. I made up excuse
after excuse to friends and professors and family; I got really good at making
up stories. sometimes it makes me sad that no one ever got really good at deciphering
them. I think of myself then, and I look at me now, and I think there
must have been some kind of superpower involved. I’m not cured- whatever that means. but
I am an entirely different person than I was then—unrecognizable in every way.
people that only know me now can never imagine me then, and the people who have been around for both (though few) are incredibly dear to me.
the other night I was at this bipolar support group that I just started going to. a man there talked about going off of his meds because he
wanted to try life without them. the facilitator supported him, but warned him
that this thing never goes away. “there are good days and bad days but we are
never completely healed,” she said. that freaked everybody out, but I think I understand what she meant. we can and do get better, but maybe somehow it’s always a part of us.
that person essentially rotting under the covers in her room wasn’t really me, but I recognize her. I care about her. I know she could come back, but I think I’m bigger than her now.
a couple of months after I was first diagnosed, I was in a really cool anthro class where I did a lot of work surrounding bipolar disorder.
in the early stages of my project, I was looking for artistic representations of bipolar.
we had this composition book we were supposed to keep our ideas in and I would paste pictures and quotes and poems in there.
I didn’t understand myself yet and I think I was just looking for some beauty in the illness– I thought that would make it all make sense.I realize now that the beauty is in the return.
it’s in the triumph. it’s in surviving the pain and the trauma and the two suicide attempts at 19. it’s in reclaiming life with a new and enlightened perspective.
that doesn’t make it all any easier, but it makes it all the more beautiful. I’m on my 9th good day in a row. nine. I actually can’t believe it.
and it’s not like weird unhinged mania– it’s just stability. what a concept.
so I guess on this world bipolar day, I’m proud of myself (I’m trying to say that more often) and I’m grateful for my crazy little story that I only remember in fragments.
sometimes new pieces come back to me and they fill in the blanks and the lost year becomes a little less lost.
but nonetheless, I’m trying to become more consciously aware of how much I’ve built from so little, and appreciate this part of me for exactly what it is. happy bp day, my friends.