Before writing this blog, I wrote a post for Facebook, you can view it here.
Since starting this blog, it has been important to me to write honest accounts of my own lived experiences with mental health issues. You can find a whole slew of articles from the psychiatric world about what bipolar disorder is and how it is said to affect the brain. Of course, medical journals should not be discounted. They are important and serve a function in the larger picture of psychological wellness. However, they are not entirely accurate should not be taken as the final word on any mental health issue.
If I were to ask you to describe the taste of a pear to me, would you be able to do so? You could probably make a good go of it but imagine describing the taste of a pear to an extra terrestrial being. One who has never seen or even hear of a pear. One who has different sensory processes than ours. One with tastebuds in their fingertips and eyes on their tongue.
Sounds pretty complex no? It is much the same when one is asked to talk about mental health issues.
I have read an inordinate amount of information about mental health issues, psychological development, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, medication, therapy etc etc. I figure that knowledge is power. Forewarned is forearmed right? I read a memoir penned by Andy Behrman that was an absolute rollercoaster from start to finish. Does it help? Maybe a little. However, we are all different. We come from different parts of the world. Have different coloured skin, hair, eyes. Tend towards different sexual predilections. Enjoy different recreational activities. Have different family units. Process things in completely unique ways. This applies to everyone, no matter what.
What is it like for me, The Bipolar Kid, to live with bipolar disorder?
Truthfully, I don't actually know. You see, I have Bipolar Disorder. I also have Borderline Personality Disorder, Insomnia, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder... those are just the (diagnosed) psychological issues! There are unresolved psychological issues, addiction issues, physiological issues, moral issues, ethical issues... and so on!
So, what is living with all of that like? Well... It's absolutely fucking soul destroying. It's heartbreaking. It's debilitating. It's glorious. It's magnificent. It's hilarious. It's dangerous. It's thrilling.
It is all of the above and more besides.
Is there a "typical day" that I could describe for you? Actually, no. I don't know what a typical day feels like because I don't know what is "normal". I have never known normal. I couldn't even really describe to you a "good day". Not in a way that you would comprehend.
Every day I have to lie. To myself. To my boyfriend. To my friends. To my employers. To the general public. It's exhausting. I can't let them see my pain. My suffering. It's really not fair on them. They may pity me, offer well meaning advice, become standoffish, afraid, concerned. I don't want to do that to anyone.
I don't lie to hurt people. I lie to protect myself. I know how general society perceives people like me. Heck, I've shared similar notions in the past.
Being honest about my mental health has cost me friends. It has cost me family members. It COULD cost me my career and even my life.
I do me in the best way I know how. Some days I get it wrong. So incredibly wrong. But most days I get it just about right. Enough to convince everyone around me that I have my life together.
There isn't really a "day in the life of an individual with bipolar disorder". There is no "typical" bipolar day. You will find posts on BuzzFeed about "What it's actually like to live with bipolar disorder". You will find lists that proclaim "Absolutely everything you need to know about Bipolar Disorder". HealthLine shares "25 things only someone with Bipolar Disorder would understand". There are even articles that claim there are things that people with Bipolar Disorder don't want you to know!
Instead of trying to understand, just accept. Know that I do the absolute best I can at any given moment. Sometimes that means waking up. Sometimes that means woking 60+ hours a week with a smile on my face. Sometimes that means surviving from one moment to the next. Know that other people do the same too, just in their own unique way.
We can't be fixed - we don't want to be fixed. We don't need to be saved. We aren't a charity case. We are human beings. Just like every other human being on the planet. Our brains are just wired differently. Just like yours!
All you can really do for someone like me is be there.