Friday, March 6, 2009

Acceptance (Originally published on 12.15.08)

As I’ve previously mentioned, I have struggled with the idea that I am bipolar. Well, not the idea, rather the fact that I am. But recently my therapist said something to me that cleared my head and actually made me accept the fact that I do, in fact, have a mental disorder (I hate saying disease). I was talking about my parents and was comparing my mom to my dad and she stopped me and said “Don’t do the bipolar thing and make your dad the good guy and your mother the bad guy.” AHHHHH HA! A professional’s offhand remark popped the bubble of denial floating around in my head. I didn’t truly understand what being bipolar was until she said that. We don’t just FEEL in extremes; we also THINK in extremes. Some of you that read Ms Alice’s blog will notice that I am using pretty much everything that I said in one of my comments there but I think that it’s necessary that I should explain how I feel and what I’ve discovered.

I have finally figured out what meds do. They don't reprogram our brain. We will still THINK in extremes. They just help us not FEEL in extremes. We have to refrain from letting our brains go to just one side of things and throwing ourselves to the completely opposite side; which is frustrating, daunting and exhausting. We need to stop using the terms always and never because those words imply that there is no middle ground. But my belief is that we are strong enough to take it. Because we are bipolar (not the royal we, the we referring to the people that are bipolar and read this blog) have far more compassion than most people because we understand what it is be in the extreme. We understand actions that seem unintelligible to others. Part of me likes to think that being bipolar makes us stronger than other people. Not weaker; that when we find that balance, we are brilliant.

Recently I have been cornered by people that I thought cared about me and had them spit venom in my face about taking meds, about this being a “choice”. I have finally reached the point where I can look them straight in the eye and say

“Fuck. You.”

Really. Fuck them. Fuck their opinions and lack of compassion or intelligence to acknowledge that some people are just programmed differently. Sometimes I compare being bipolar to being dyslexic. A good friend of mine has that disorder and she gets so frustrated because people believe having dyslexia just means you mix up words. It's so much more than that. It's like bipolar in the sense that our filters are broken. It takes us a bit longer to process certain things and we mostly live in a more confusing place than others. Some of these people are ignorant and hide behind religion because they need to believe that SOMETHING will make us magically and immediately better. That it's not a chemical mishap in our brain. They'd rather assume it's the “devil” trying to get a hold of us. I have washed my hands of any organized religion. How can a god that is supposed to be based on love pick and choose those who are “worthy” of being saved? Why does is matter if two men or two woman fall in love? You love people for what’s inside, a “soul” if you will. The outward appearance means NOTHING. If religion says it's our souls that live on doesn't that mean that our “earthly bodies” don't matter? So the fact that it’s two men in love or two woman in love means NOTHING because it’s the inside that counts.

OHHHH look, a discrepancy.

A friend of mine was sent an article that basically said that being bipolar was a CHOICE. I believe that the sender should a) be punched in the face (is she would let me know where they live and I will deliver the blow myself, for real) b) immediately be cut out of her life or c) be told that because they are so ignorant, that from this moment forth anything they say to her will be immediately discounted. I believe this goes for everyone. If someone that you consider a friend truly believes that this is a choice…. they really can’t be put in the category of a friend. I understand that it is INCREDIBLY hard for people that don’t have this disorder to truly understand what it’s like. They want to blame the person and pass it off as them just being moody, or a flake when they just can’t get out of bed to attend an event with them. That’s why I write this blog. I want to help people understand what it’s like. I am aware that it makes some people uncomfortable and if that’s the case just don’t talk about the disorder with the person. that has it. Don’t try and come up with excuses as to why they feel that way. It’s okay to not be able to really handle stuff that is considered “heavy” because sometimes it truly gets burdening and frustrating because you feel that you can’t help them therefore you feel helpless. Really, ask them to not talk about it if you must but when you see that they are struggling, all they need is a hug and comforting words letting them know that even though you don’t understand it, you’re there for them. Also, truly ponder how that person acts. Do you really think that they would choose to react the way they do? Really? To have people think they’re slightly addled in the brain and be a drama queen?

While I do have AMAZING friends I still do break down and rock back and forth asking why. Why is this happening to me? Why won't it stop? What did I do to deserve this? Why can't the horrible racing thoughts stop? The only thing that gets me through most of these attacks is knowing that is WILL pass; that this is a temporary extreme that will normalize. I think of my friends, of laughter, of the smell of clean laundry, of lying content on the grass on sunny days. I try and force myself to think of anything that seems beautiful to me and when the wave breaks and I'm able to breathe again, I force myself to acknowledge that I am stronger because I have survived it. I have beaten the Jabberwocky again. I have not submitted. Instead I am taking up my vorpal blade and saying

“Bring it bitch”

I sincerely hope and believe that we ARE strong enough to defeat it. It will just take practice and patience in understanding that we are the only ones that can change the way we think – meds just help the physical aspects. There is no chemical that can go into our heads and over ride harmful thinking. If there was, everyone would finally understand how beautiful life is.

I am bipolar, and I am going to try my damnedest to stop denying it.


alice said...

Amen to that, sister. I'm glad you pulled this over to your blog, because it's a good post. I have been having such the same intense wrestling match with my thoughts about bipolar disorder. It's like a massive mind-fuck to think about it, because it IS all in our heads. And it's real. I am not going to stop trying to figure out if there is a CURE for this. It seems to me that there are similarities between bipolar people. Traumatic childhoods, or some traumatizing event. A serious lack of self worth that has come from said trauma. A lack of support...It's confusing and mind-bending. And the people who say it aren't real can, yes, FUCK OFF. Even if one day it turns out that I did make this all up, that I chose this for kicks, because BEING BIPOLAR IS SO MUCH FUN (not), I have no way of even being able to comprehend that RIGHT NOW. Right now, I am spinning out of control and I need help. That's where I'm at. And the people who think I should be able to sit in my room and pray to make it go away, or meditate it right out of my chakras, or karma karate chop it.. those people are nuts.

Hang in there girl, we're gonna get through this. I'm glad we have our wee group of supporters here who get it.

Paddym22 said...


You got it.....its all about extremes and it is how we learn to manage these extremes is the key

The Bipolar Drunk said...

Brilliant. Seriously, I couldn't have put it better myself-- especially your comments about meds and having a "choice" in being bipolar.

Your comments on the meds are almost exactly what I tell other people how it feels to be on mood stabilizers (in my case, lithium): it doesn't make you stop feeling, it makes those feelings less extreme-- and therefore, easier to handle. My creativity is still the same, my same cynical sense of humor is still there, only now I'm able to make them work for me, instead of against me.

It also took my family a while to accept that what is wrong with me is, in fact, a disorder like many others, and not some lifestyle "choice". I didn't "choose" to cut myself when I'm distressed. I didn't "choose" to blow through $20,000 that I didn't have because I felt like it. I didn't "choose" to get six speeding tickets in twelve months because I wanted to lose my license. My bipolar disorder cost me many relationships (including one marriage), but I have gained a lot more since I've come to terms with it.

I'm very glad I found this blog (through alice-- thanks, I owe you one!). It's always good to find kindred spirits in this effed-up world. I look forward to reading more in the future!

NerdOneirik said...

Mr Paddym22, where have you gone to???

And yeah, lets hope we learn to manage them... I'm tired of being on Mount Everest only to plummet to the bottom of Lake Asal.


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