Hello, my fellow Bipolaratti (and non-bipolar folks who come by, hee hee)!
Look at us — we have a day! This comes compliments of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders, and related organizations:
The purpose of today is familiar to most of us who have chosen to blog about our disorder — we are doing our best to lift the lid on what it’s like to live with bipolar, and to show that we’re people the same as anyone else. We are doing the best to show that while bipolar has a checklist at the doctor’s office, that each of us suffer differently no matter how many ticks we might make on a list. We are doing our best to show that we are not lazy, or making excuses — we are doing our best to live as full a life as fucking possible with a brain that is doing its best to murder us.
We are doing our best to show that we are not being ‘drama queens’ — our brains are trying to murder us. The fact that the suicide rate is so much higher amongst the bipolar population proves that one. And that suicide and suicide attempts are not a symbol of weakness, but rather, hopelessness, exhaustion; there are very few of us that haven’t attempted or considered attempting suicide at least once, and that is because there was no visible way out. It doesn’t make us bad people for wanting escape, or less, or crazy. I think most of us, if we could put someone else in our shoes, would, just so they could understand what a sparking jungle of bad brain wiring we’re fighting against in addition to fighting against a society that tries to tell us we are less, or not trying hard enough.
Not trying hard enough? HAH. Hah. Hah. I wake up every day right now in severe physical pain and exhaustion. I might get a little bit of empathy because I’m currently pregnant (so thereby possessing a visible ‘legit’ reason), but I’m sure there people lining up to roll their eyes and mock the fact it means that I can’t fight my brain as well right now. That’s pretty shit, yo — I certainly didn’t intentionally try to think of that song that pushes me to severe depression immediately (bonus points — my head tried to convince me it was okay to listen to. Not fucking falling for that one again!), nor did I want to get stuck in an anger loop ruminating about people who have been assholes to me. I’ve busted my ass since I was a kid to be able to defuse these bombs when they drop into my lap, but that requires the resources to spend to deal with the impact of the brain throwing up this sort of crap, as well as the resources to stop them from making things worse. And then there’s the fear that once you get the hang of defusing your brain’s current set of bombs that it will find something even worse and harder to fight. And when the bombs are dropping faster and faster and you can see the countdown timer ticking down, ticking, ticking… whelp. It’s not like a stupid little game on your phone where you get tinny sad music and try again. You only get one life for reals, one shot, but yanno… just not trying hard enough. Obviously.
Now, I’m one of the lucky ones with bipolar. I know I have it, and what kind I have (Bipolar II, rapid cycling). I have meds that work when I’m on them (and deity, can’t wait until this kiddo is out and I can get back on them — only 75 days or so to go!). I have worked really hard to develop coping methods and ways to defuse my brain’s attempts to kill me. I have good friends of varying degrees of mental health and illness who love me, accept me as I am, and support me through the good and bad times (and I do the same for them). I am lucky because I do not care what others think of me, and because stigma and misinformation will not cost me my job or anyone who truly matters to me (I’ve weeded out most of the chaff by now, hee hee). I have my voice, and I use it wherever I can on my behalf, and on the behalf of my friends who cannot speak out due to fear and stigma. I’ve been told before that I love really weird people, and that’s true — us ‘weirdos’ are the ones that need the understanding and love, and I would much rather spend my limited resources on those who are most needing and *gasp* appreciative.
So of course, I use today as another chance to speak up and out, and to try to share a bit of insight into my brain. As ugly as it can be, this is my lot in life, and I am not prone to hyperbole about my suffering and conditions. I do not want attention or pity, or an excuse to be an asshole. I want understanding for myself and others, and understanding that the set of circumstances we are working from are difficult at best. And that one way to make them less difficult for all involved (because yes, you poor dear neurotypical folk, I DO understand we’re hard to deal with) IS to be understanding, and patient, and kind. Fear of judgement and stigma tend to make one react in an overwhelmingly negative way; this is something am still fighting with myself over.
But it doesn’t get better when ‘well-meaning’ lack of understanding minimizes what we’re dealing with. Educate yourselves, if you’re not familiar with the basics of bipolar; there’s lots of great information on wiki, Healthyplace, Psychcentral, and so on. There’s a wealth of personal insight here on The Bipolar Blogger Network, on WordPress, and all over the internet. And while many of us do spend a lot of energy sharing and trying to educate, remember that no one with bipolar has an obligation to teach you anything. By all means, educate yourself and try to support loved ones with bipolar, but it is not their job to hand you a how-to guide. They’re probably spending most of their resources just trying to get through another day, and getting huffy because they’re not able to spare anything for you is… well. Pretty dickish.
Don’t be a dick.
Bipolar is a life-long illness. While some folks are lucky enough that it goes into remission and they can live a normal life, it’s less common than one might think (and some types like Bipolar II have INCREDIBLY non-existent remission rates). On this inaugural World Bipolar Day, I guess it boils down to this for me — I have a life-long condition. I am doing my best to manage it and live as full a life as I can. I am not bad, or crazy, or lazy — I have a broken brain, and much like any other physical illness, I deserve understanding and compassion for the hardship this places in my life. So does anyone else with any sort of mental or physical illness, visible or otherwise. These are qualities that most people claim to consider important and would wish applied towards themselves, so let’s all make a point to remember the Golden Rule — do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s a good way to live anyways!