Today is Bipolar Awareness Day. It is the first, and a very important day, a day I hope will carry on indefinitely, helping those with living with and affected by Bipolar…
One of them, being me.
I guess, it is best to start at the beginning. I have Bipolar Disorder II. I could waffle on about medical definitions and all sorts, but to hear it in Laymen’s Terms – there is an overview on the Mind UK Website.
I’ve talked about Bipolar on my blog a few times (“Bipolar Doesnt Mean You Can Be a Bitch” and “Just Another Manic Monday“) but no matter how often I write or talk about it, I tend to receive the same response to my omission:
“Oh really?! But ..you seem so…..normal!”
I laugh it off of course, and explain. Laughing is of course the easiest form of defence against a sentiment that is, I guess, so laughable, and so (if i’m honest) offensive.
To me, it is so normal. I’ve been on top of my Bipolar for some time. Its been a learning curve, albeit a steep one. There have been good times and bad, and blips along the way. To me though that would sum up life pretty aptly mental heath condition or not, so its no big deal.
It was only recently that I realised that perhaps it was a bigger deal than first thought.
I have someone new in my life, someone special. Someone I suspect is probably reading (as they so often do) so I won’t say much more, it’ll only suffice in boosting their ego rather substantially
I spoke to this someone about my Bipolar, and explained it in my rather matter of fact fashion I was so duely used to, thinking nothing more of it. “Ask me any questions, if you ever have any, ever..I will always be honest” I chirped, knowing that ever so rarely a query ever followed.
Unbeknown to me, said person had taken to the internet not long after, and did a little research.
I received a text.
“I’ve done some reading, is it okay to talk about this more?”
I was taken aback, shocked that they cared enough to ask, blown away by the idea they felt it important to learn something, anything, and try to understand.
We talked it through, and there was one area that stood out in the depressive section of the symptoms that worried them the most. The ‘S’ Word that I most of the time can’t ever bring myself to say, but is always looming, always hiding around the corner of your mind. That little thought, that tiny, insignificant nothing, that something that you know could be there, at a moments notice, waiting to prey on your vulnerability.
“Will it ever happen?”
I could tell they were upset. I guess anyone is when that word is mentioned. Perhaps I’m too used to it after so many years with it being banded about without any mindfulness to how menacing it can be.
Thats the thing I guess after dealing with Bipolar for so long, I was pretty much used to it. All of it. I was used to the stigma, the expectant glance waiting for me to dance down the street naked bellowing show tunes during a ‘phase’ (a genuine question by a friend, I kid you not). But this, I wasn’t used to. I sat and read through the side affects, the symptoms, tried to take it all in, with a fresh set of eyes.
I had to admit, it all seemed pretty scary.
I was used to the mood swings, the insomnia, the irritable disposition and emotional hangover, but for someone new to it all, it seemed pretty overwhelming.
I felt guilty, and for the first time in a long time, a little ashamed. With my blasé ‘can-do’ attitude, I had started to forget a large part of me that made me…well, ‘me’.
I try not to be defined by my Bipolar, though as so many people can agree, there is a fine line indeed in knowing. A seemingly spontaneous surprise is laced with uncertainty, constantly cautious of your inner rationality reeling at your decisions, whether you’re fully in control or its just another ‘incident’ you will look back on with disdain.
Despite this, however, I realised something else. Amidst these feelings, was one of hope.
When it comes to ‘other people’ I feel, for the most part, constantly in battle. A discrimination war zone, with stereotypes flying in all directions, dodging stray shrapnel of ill informed idiocies.
But for a moment, it seemed the dust had began to settle. A Social Ceasefire.
There are people out there that understand, and if they don’t, are willing to learn – should the information be available to them. There are those that speak out, and try to change things, little by little. It might only be a little ripple in an exceedingly big pond, but we keep on trying. That is inspiring.
What really warms my heart? Is that there are those out there too that are ever listening, ever learning, ever helping.
So although today is about openness and honesty, let us not forget those that are in the wake of the storm, that hold our hands through our darkest of days, and whom we wouldnt be here without.
Together, we are all making a difference.
One day at a time.