themighty logo

When Bipolar Disorder Makes It ‘Impossible’ to Even Watch TV


As a young child in school, I found myself excelling in most subjects. The adults around me encouraged me to succeed and I had big dreams for when I grew up.

Unfortunately, it all fell apart once my mental health symptoms began to appear. My mood shifts from bipolar disorder caused me to have fluctuating grades and my generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) caused me to shy away from opportunities I could have experienced.

By the time I reached high school, I found myself barely passing and holding the school record of 67 truancies, due to mania and depression. I graduated with a diploma but I gave up on school.

Several years later, I attempted to go to a junior college. Throughout the course of a 10-year period, I dropped out and returned seven times. Many classes had to be retaken due to my failing grades. I am three classes away from my degree in psychology and I’m not sure I will ever return to finish my education.

Now, at 34 years old, I find myself completely incapable of reading a full-length novel. I cannot sit down and watch television; I usually watch no more than one movie a year. The complexities of a novel or movie are too complicated for my mind and my constant anxiety makes it impossible for me to focus. I have made many attempts over the years to watch a television show and many of the series I have started consuming have gone unfinished and are hanging in limbo in my entertainment library.

Having bipolar disorder, GAD and borderline personality disorder (BPD) has greatly impacted my cognitive abilities and has made simple tasks impossible. While many people are enjoying a good movie or book, I am manic, pacing the house and obsessively cleaning.

As an author, I have found it impossible to tackle a project of more than 2,000 words. I view writing projects as a piece of metal being struck with a hammer and my words make the piece a sculpture. But I cannot handle a big piece of metal; it is too much. My books are short children’s books and poetry. I have written dozens of articles but cannot manage to write a full-length novel.

I believe if I had support and medication as a child, I would have gone far in my career and may have achieved my dream of being a professor of psychology. If I didn’t struggle so much with mania and anxiety, I might be able to read books and watch television.

My life is far from over and hopefully with time and professional help, I will one day be well enough to read books, finish school and watch television. Maybe in time, I will be able to write a full-length novel. But for now, I will focus on sculpting out smaller statues that my cognitive ability can handle at the moment.

Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash