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Your Stigma Is Offensive to My Bipolar Disorder

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It’s a painful subject to admit I have bipolar disorder, and why should I? My own psychiatrist recommends against this admission for some reason. Not sure what’s so wrong with having bipolar disorder, I didn’t choose it. It runs in my family in various ranges and forms, some taking form as a black cloud-like depression, in others a generalized attitude of rage prevails, and in me…well, I just get spun out of a normal sense of reality. It’s where I land that’s most embarrassing, the humiliating fight to find who I actually am, inside a full-shadow version of myself.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

I hide it pretty well, as it comes upon me. Those long manias are as interesting as any version of reality I can cling to, and so it holds me. I’ve committed lots of damage during those lengths of time when I wasn’t sure which was the correct reality. Hopefully it won’t happen again, being twice caught off guard is enough for one lifetime. My doctor says it will happen again, that it’s cyclical. My children have witnessed first hand as I slip away from my baseline and at first gain energy, though it’s lovingly directed. I clean more, cook more, enjoy all of my life as much as I possibly can, start projects. At this point, I’m wary of any project that draws me in, my energy is best directed toward the very basics like housekeeping and childcare.

The few friends I hold close do not even know I’ve been committed to a hospital setting twice, and yes, it is an unpleasant situation, but it’s necessity just to stabilize me, as I drift back down from the grandiose ideas I’d been entertaining, a little too invested in possibilities that I’m not meant to own. Putting my heart and soul into everything I encounter is both seen as a gift, as well as the devil on my shoulder who is intent on taking me down. The saboteur, my unacknowledged shadow, orphaned selves… envy, pride, embarrassingly prejudice, faith, destiny, hope… these all get confronted during my absence from the status quo.

The proverbial onion gets peeled, I contend with disowned sides to myself, inevitably I grow and grow, which is why I always walk away with my head still held high. Society never expects someone “like me” to be managing mental illness, but it’s a daily goal to avoid triggers and to maintain a steady focus on everything I simply love and believe in. Raising an amazing family, being the envy of my peers, never conforming to the expectations of society, in between the cooking and the baking, the childcare, the mountains of laundry I scale every day…I contain multitudes.

Thinkstock photo via Archv

Originally published: June 8, 2017
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