The Unexpected 'Super Power' Bipolar Gives Me
I think we have all been asked the following question at some point: if you could have any super power, what would it be?
Answers to this age old question vary across the board. The adventurous might love the power of flight, the devious x-ray vision and perhaps, the energetic would love super speed. Personally, I have always struggled to answer this question. What if I already have a “power?” What if I hate it? So for me, the question isn’t which super power I want, it’s whether I want one at all.
What is my power? I have an uncanny ability to be invisible. I’m sure that I cannot be the only one. Maybe you know what I am talking about; the ability to be looked at by a sea of people but never really “be seen.” Almost like when an entire classroom stares at you and thinks they know you, but have no idea who you really are — the real you.
I feel as though I have been invisible my whole life, constantly drifting around in a whirlwind of people and consistently feeling alone.
This isn’t a matter of being noticed or liked. I have people who notice and like me. It’s a matter of being seen. I imagine this is largely due to my bipolar disorder. In talking with others, I tend to put on masks to try and hide myself and my mood — maybe out of fear, maybe out of protection.
I’ve been hiding behind masks my entire life. I have been constantly adapting and changing masks to fit what I believe those around me want to see because, quite frankly, who wants to see the real me?
I feel like a monster. I feel like my bipolar makes me a monster — an invisible, distant monster.
I don’t blame any one person. If I were to blame anyone, it would be myself. I am the one putting on the masks to hide who I really am. I am the one that never lets anyone in.
The problem is, I have been so invisible for so long that this “super power” has become a curse. I’ve worn so many masks for so long that I’m not even sure what my “real face” looks like. I’m not sure whether one of the masks is the “real me,” if there is a “real me” separate from the masks or if I am all of them.
I believe this is part of the nature of bipolar and maybe mental illness in general.
I’ve lost myself. I have become so invisible, I can’t even see myself.
I’m beginning to believe that in order to continue ending the stigma around mental illness, we have to start seeing people as they truly are and not as we want to see them. Those who struggle with mental illness need to make an effort to remove their masks, but we also need to create safe spaces for that to happen.
If you are reading this, I see you. Or, at least, I want to.
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Thinkstock photo via Dziggyfoto