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The Two Inner Voices I Have as Someone With Bipolar Disorder

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I hear two voices in my head all the time. I only realized this in the last few years. It’s been so noisy up there for so long that it was hard to get it straight, but once I identified them, something settled in me and things began to make a little more sense. The voices aren’t “hypomania” and “depression” like one might think. They are ever-present as the mood shifts occur and I ride this endless roller coaster of bipolar.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

I call one Intention. She is pure light. She is my very best self. She is hope and love and kindness. She has big plans for me, and she knows I can achieve every goal if I just try. She is the happy list of “to-dos” I wake up with on a good morning. She is pure optimism. She never gives up. She feels like an organic part of me, no different than my toes or earlobes. She feels like my guide to my purpose here. She believes in me and I love her for that.

The other voice I hear I call Disorder. She is the cruelest of bullies. She laughs at my plans and dreams and goals. She reminds me constantly of my past failures and inadequacies. She seems happiest when I fall short. She pushes me to do things that are reckless and destructive. She is always there, but she does not feel like a part of me. She feels like an intruder who won’t leave. Trust me, I have tried to make her leave. I have drowned her in booze, I have choked her with drugs. I gave that up. She will not be silenced. I hate her.

There are a lot of days she is bigger and louder than Intention, but luckily, Intention won’t quit. For a long time, the battle between them for my attention made me feel “insane.” I realize now this is my battle of mental illness. A battle in my mind for balance and peace.

When the depression hits again, and the world is gray and everything is heavy, I lose the energy sometimes to fight or the ability to ignore Disorder. She fills my head with worries and darkness. She even tells me sometimes I am a burden to everyone I love and that they would be better off without me.

I’m getting better at catching Disorder at her game, though. Doctors and counselors and medication have given me tools and weapons to fight her. I remind myself when she tells me I’m worthless, that I have people that love me. When she laughs at me and berates me for spending a whole day stuck in bed, I remind myself that sometimes I just need to rest. Sometimes I’m not well and I have to take care of myself. When she pushes me to do something reckless in the throes of mania, I try to remind myself my life is good and I don’t want to do anything to ruin that.

Disorder doesn’t care about me. She likes to see me hurting, but Intention is always there, wanting better for me. The tools that I have been given help me to focus and listen better for Intention. I just have to find her and believe her. Sometimes that’s the hardest part. Some days I just can’t and I believe Disorder. Those are the bad days, but I have learned the bad days (or weeks or months) pass like storms. There are people who want to help me. I’m OK. Disorder won’t win. Intention and I won’t let her.

Thinkstock photo via Victor-Tongdee.

Originally published: June 8, 2017
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