Who am I? I am not Bipolar disorder.
I can guarantee that at some point in their lives everyone, everywhere, will strive to answer the age-old question of ‘Who am I?’ some will succeed, some will not but those who do will likely be decidedly happier than those who never seek to discover their true self.
As someone correctly surmised this weekend, part of managing Bipolar Disorder is getting to know yourself. Knowing what makes you happy, brings you joy and excites you, lowers your mood or heightens it, lessens anxiety, raises paranoia… etc. Therapy and the management techniques you are taught are mainly one big course on how you tick and it can be both painfully harrowing and massively rewarding.
The difficulty for me has always been knowing what is symptom and what is just my personality, I am not Bipolar disorder and I refuse to identify with the symptoms of this illness as though they were part of my nature as I have in the past. For example; I am not the person the symptom of anxiety makes me; my nature is jovial and bubbly, I like to joke and tease, I like to be silly and I laugh a lot and in vast contradiction to the symptoms bestowed upon me by Bipolar disorder, I love social interaction. I know this because when I am with good friends this side of me blossoms, there is no need for anxiety to rear its ugly head with these people, I am comfortable, I am free; this is the person I am, not the anxious looking one in the corner avoiding your eyes in the hope that you won’t decide to talk to me…
I am confident, though you wouldn’t know it. I am not shy, though it may seem that I am. I didn’t learn how to interact with people as I was growing up – I was full of turmoil, I was keeping my head above the water and punishing myself for things outwith my control, I isolated myself in a vain attempt at self-preservation and practically lived within a cocoon of self loathing until my early twenties when I suffered a massive psychotic break, so when it seems as though I am having problems conversing, I am, but not for the reasons you think.
I don’t really know what I enjoy doing yet because I have spent so long hiding from the world and so I am on a big quest to try everything at least once. I have a long-standing love affair with books and I don’t think that will ever leave me, woe betide anyone who comes between me and a good book! I have found crafts really soothing and I like to swim (though I am painfully slow!) I love live music and walking… These are the discoveries that will save me, these are the things that, inserted into my life, will keep me going and ease the swinging moods that plague me.
I may not be able to make Bipolar Disorder leave me, but I don’t need to let it dominate my life either. I will seize control, I will find my true personality, I will be happy.