3 Reasons I'm Actually Grateful for My Bipolar Disorder
I can be high, and I can be low. I can be flaky and sometimes show up. I can be Ms. Chatty in a crowd or I can be Ms. Bitch. I can be nice in one moment and the next snap on you, making you wonder what went wrong.
I used to think all of these qualities were inconvenient, shameful, embarrassing somehow. Then, when my doctor told me he thought I had bipolar disorder, I was still shameful, never feeling relief that giving a name or a reason to my behavior was supposed to give.
How can I love so many characteristics of myself while hating them at the same time? How can I feel happy that everyone thinks I am so unique, so funny and so different, but still be sad that they have no idea I’m just broken with a smile on my face? That I’m just laughing to keep from breaking. That sometimes, the energy and excitement pouring out of me is my best quality and sometimes it is my worst.
What makes me unique is I can’t make it go away. I can’t just calm down or perk up when I’m depressed. Mental illness is not just being what you think or a state of mind you can control; even when we try our best, it still controls us.
For some of us, that means it debilitates us until we can no longer work, see friends or family, or even get out of bed.
For some of us, we have a great year in exchange for three months that are so dark we forget what the light looks like.
Then there are people like me, who can appear to live “normally.” Having a bad couple of days here and there or a month that is easy to hide.
Given the alternatives, I consider myself lucky.
In my head, I am constantly going over the negatives, the parts of mental illness that make me weak but in others’ minds I am fun, blunt and different.
I’ve heard it from my friends: “You are hilarious, say what is on your mind and we always laugh.” That’s a quality I think bipolar gives me, because during hypomania I can feel on top of the world, yet not so “crazy” it’s obvious. (I have only experienced that a few times in my life.)
I’ve heard it from every man I’ve dated: “I like you because you are funny and willing to be made fun of and give it back in return. You eat what you want, say what you want, and never cease to bore me.” Again — when it’s good, it’s mania, and when it’s bad, it’s depression. At least for me.
Normally, when I hear these things, I shrug it off and act like I think it’s nice, but inside I’m thinking you have no idea how much this can suck, how much this can hurt and how much I want it to go away.
But for once, I am trying to be positive and realize there really are some positive traits I have due to having bipolar disorder — traits I’m nervous to lose if I ever find anything that makes me stable on a regular basis.
1. I’m hilarious.
Not trying to brag or anything, but I can make anyone laugh. I can make myself laugh. Every friendship I’ve ever had started out with me making them laugh. It’s a combination of my sarcasm, and my willingness to say what most people won’t because I have a tendency to not care. Humor is about shock and reaction, and I love giving that feeling. Most of us now know that there are many comedians who are depressed or otherwise mentally ill. We laugh as a defense and to dodge the discomfort of despair.
2. I’m smart.
I don’t mean book smart (because lord knows I find it hard to focus and follow through with all the ups and downs I have), but I mean in social terms. I have gotten any job I’ve ever interviewed for not just by skill set or experience, but by reading people and connecting. Knowing how to make them feel like I am the right choice even when I know I’m not. It’s been said that people with mental illness are empaths and empathy is smart. I know people who are incredibly smart in a classroom but so lacking in social skills they can hardly get a job. It’s important.
3. Creativity and uniqueness.
I’ve always felt I see things others don’t and feel things more intensely. I have a great imagination and I come up with some creative ideas (even if I start things I never finish.) I also feel like I reach levels of thought when I’m up that I can’t touch when I’m stable or down. I’m also positive and more social, making up for all the times I’ve ignored those closest to me during depression.
Do the cons outweigh the pros? Absolutely not.
As I said earlier, I am on the lucky side of mental illness, if there is such a thing.
I have a sister who is on the unlucky end and I am scared every day for her, and for what I could have been. So, for once, I wanted to take a moment and think about the positives and write them down in hopes that if you are struggling, you would see this, and see some of these qualities in yourselves.
You can see more of my truths about parenting on morethanmothers.com.
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Getty Images photo via Liderina