My mind likely doesn’t work the same way yours does. In fact I know it doesn’t. Sometimes I feel like its backwards, but then I put my rose-colored-glasses-mind set on, and instead describe it as intense. For me, rationality has no place, and it often takes me longer to find a logical answer to my everyday predicaments, that is, if I ever do. I change my clothes two or three times before I leave my house, often feel like life is perfect when I see a rainbow, and sometimes spend nights writing entries in my journal that I will never show the world. I have been told I march to a beat of my own drum, but personally I think I paint with my own brushstrokes. I often sit in wonder about people who don’t have to question if there reaction to something is the right one. I even sometimes find myself jealous of people who don’t show their emotions on their face. And above all else, I feel like my experience and how I think and come to conclusions is a way that makes no sense to anyone else, but me.
It’s this feeling of being alone and different in our way of thinking, that I believe ties anyone who is also bipolar together by a common thread.
But in all that, I have found that what drives me to write, something I’m told I am talented at, are those dark moments where I can’t seem to find the light in my depressive state, so I create it. What drives me to want to change the world is the utopia I have felt this world can be in my one of my manic episodes. What makes me believe I can change this world is my simple rejection for the path more traveled.
A few months back, a former coworker I respected and admired said a joke about her “crazy” brother. She then went on to explain that he makes up things for attention. His doctors, she said, diagnosed him with bipolar disorder, the same mental illness I have, though she called it “psychotic nonsense.” She then went on to tell me that this illness isn’t real but rather it’s part of our Prozac nation, where we all want to fake an illness in order to qualify our short comings.
I was ashamed of telling her I had the same infliction as her brother because I didn’t want her to think I was less than. I also wanted respect in my workplace, and feared I may lose it if it came out that I was mentally ill. Above all else, I believed (and looking back, I may have been correct in this thinking) that I wouldn’t be taken seriously if people knew that I am “crazy.”
Years ago, I found myself in what mental health professionals call a “crisis.” A “crisis” is just a way of saying that I had lost control of my thinking. At the time I had. I found I was sliding down a slipper-slope of negative thinking, where I was not only thinking I was less-than. I was believing it too. I checked into a mental health institute after a week of not leaving my couch, or showering or changing my underwear. I had given up on life and needed help finding hope again. When I was released from the hospital a little over a week later, I reached out to many of my friends, in hopes of leaning on my support system during that dark time. That was the same day three friends of mine said their goodbyes, noting that it was not easy being in a relationship with someone who is bipolar.
And I agree, it isn’t.
But what my coworkers failed to see, and what those friends failed to see, is that me being bipolar doesn’t make me less-than, or even difficult, it makes me beautiful and unique.
I could, and have been ashamed that I am bipolar. I could, and have been, angry that I am bipolar. And it took me awhile to embrae it. But I did, and am proud I did.
But its because of my mental illness I have the passion, excitement and creativity to paint this world a different, and if I have my way, a more peaceful and loving place.