I want to share with you something that I posted to Facebook a month or so ago;
I have Bipolar disorder. You may have some preconceived notion of what that means (I know I did) but it probably isn’t what you think. It means that I’m probably going to yabber on about how I feel more than the average person – emotions are like the physical symptoms of an average illness, to me. I’ll probably say something illogical once in a while, or I won’t say it (which is worse) I mean it at the time but I’m aware it’s not true, paranoia is like a friend you just can’t get rid of. I’m going to fuck a lot of things up, but I’m working really hard not to; I always thought it was because I was a bad person and I’m still working on not believing that. I can’t always cope with the mundane stresses of life and sometimes when there is just too much ironing in the basket or that bitch in the school playground is giving me the wrong look it overwhelms me and I sleep to recover (or to hide) It can make me look lazy (its hard to even convince myself otherwise) but essentially I am just sleeping off my illness as you might sleep off the flu or a virus. When anxiety pays me a visit; as it often does, it can be hard to even leave the house or answer the phone. My therapist and I have discovered that I have had this illness for 22 years of my 27 years on this planet, you can imagine how that might have stilted my development and so when I seem a little socially awkward it’s really only because I was sick the day they taught social interaction. I spend a little recklessly sometimes (yes, that’s a symptom too) I eat far too much cake (amongst other things) and when I seem at my ‘happiest’ I’m just as ill as ever. I know it’s a lot to swallow and hard to believe some of these things are related; sometimes I wonder if it isn’t just a good excuse to be a mess but I have no control (though I’m learning to have more) and I don’t want to be this way… I have lived with this illness for such a long time (some times have been worse than others) that it is difficult to know what makes up my personality, my character and nature and what is this plague called Bipolar disorder. I suppose the most important thing to understand is that even I don’t understand it. I have a mental illness and though I can’t say I’m proud I can say I am not ashamed. Maybe it is necessary to share this via the medium of social networking amongst many people who I have not seen in over 10 years and some I count as my nearest and dearest or maybe it isn’t, but there is some kind of freedom in owning my illness and declaring my plight and if this declaration can make my struggle (or anyone else’s) just a little easier then my mini soapbox stand has been worth it.
I felt it was important to share that here initially, mainly because it so accurately describes my ‘condition’ (though it has to be said, it does not describe my personality). I also shared this here because I am so incredibly proud that I wrote it and laid myself bare for all to see, it took a lot of courage and I felt rather sick for a long time afterwards!!
What an introduction it is though, what a way to enter a room! If only life imitated the computer screen… I can be what I want here and I want to be the woman who entered the room with a bang!
I received such an incredible out-pouring of love and support from my friends and family for that post, both those that I was certain would comment with things to make your heart go gooey and those I had no idea even registered my existence. I revelled in their love for weeks, I got greedy with their attentions, addicted to their support but nothing lasts forever. You see, unfortunately you only get to do that once, I can’t post that declaration every day and receive the same support, that would be attention seeking, not to mention a little odd – but my disease has not gone away despite the interest dying down, I am still learning about this wonderfully hellish plague called Bipolar disorder and though I need to talk (and whine) about it almost constantly people (quite rightly) do not want to hear about it day in, day out for the rest of their lives. And so, it is here that Dear brain… becomes my saviour! I can ramble to myself about the idiosyncrasies of Bipolar disorder (among other things) and my loved ones get to maintain their sanity; though, dear readers, I fear you do not!