Bipolar as Unexpected Gift
I’ll begin, here, with a caveat: bipolar disorder is hard, makes life harder, and really sucks a lot of the time — but sometimes that makes the ways in which it’s a gift all the more startling and meaningful (at least, it does for me).
As such, take all of this with however many grains of salt your own experience requires at this time. Just because I feel like I’ve discovered a secret bonus doesn’t mean that’s everyone’s experience, or that everyone needs to feel the same way. To borrow an aphorism from the kink community, “Your Bipolar Is Not My Bipolar, And That’s Okay.”
It has become somewhat de rigeur to talk about bipolar disorder as, perhaps appropriately, both a curse and a blessing.
With it come harrowing depressions and dizzying (sometimes terrifying) manias, instability that can wreck careers and lives, a powerful predisposition to addiction, the very real possibility of significant cognitive decline, and a staggeringly high rate of suicide and attempted suicide.
With it come also blindingly brilliant creativity, periods of super-human productivity, and minds that work rather different from the norm, which in turn sometimes bear stunning and unexpected insight.
It has become the done thing to acknowledge that latter set of realities, though too often only to dismiss them: Yes, you have these gifts, but holy cow, look at these costs. What are we gonna do about these costs? This isn’t to say that defraying the costs (metaphorical costs, here, not the actual costs in actual money) of bipolar disorder isn’t immensely important — it is.
Yet, too often, it’s done without any consideration for the losses incurred; the surrender of the holy fire in exchange for a more-stable life.
Too often, those of us with bipolar are expected only to embrace damage-control, and never to mourn the loss of the gifts of sacred fire.
That, however, is a post for another time (albeit an important one).
I’m not writing about those gifts today.
Instead, I’m writing about the unforeseen gift of mental illness itself.
I grew up in a family that was both very privileged and very gifted. My sister and I were both subject to high expectations — very high expectations. We both attended selective prep schools; we were both ear-marked early on as future alumni of elite colleges or universities. We were, it appeared, destined for “success.”
We were the kind of kids who would most likely have been subject to enormous pressures related to the pursuit of that narrow definition of success — except, in both our cases, everything went off the rails, fast.
For my part, I struggled from early grade school with hyperactivity, executive function deficits (if you think I’m bad at planning now…), serious social difficulties, and what were probably the symptoms of early-onset bipolar disorder (labile moods, fits of intense and uncontrollable rage that came and passed like summer squalls, and the same bouts of wild creativity that characterize my life today, among others). Nonetheless, I was early identified as a kid with a very high IQ and strong academic and creative aptitudes, and until the beginning of high-school, I was on the Ivory Tower track.
And then, in ninth grade, everything shattered.
My first hospitalization happened less than one month into my ninth grade year. Following that, I spent a total of more than six months over the next three years as an in-patient at three different psychiatric institutions. The rest of those three years, I spent in intensive day treatment.
Freshman and sophomore years were the hardest: those were the two years during which I was in and out of the hospital (where, perhaps a bit ironically, I enjoyed an almost-normal social life for the first and probably the last time). Those were the two years during which things were at their worst for me.
As a junior, I was able to attend a public arts magnet in the afternoons; I graduated from that magnet program as a regular senior (albeit one with no social life, no friends at school, and probably much vaguer ambitions than 99% of my peers) — but by then the Success Train had already jumped its track.
This isn’t to say that the arts magnet program wasn’t rigorous. It was: extremely so. It was selective, rigorous, and demanded an enormous time commitment. However, I was able to handle it mentally because I’d completed most of my high school course work in very low-pressure schools(1). I was able to handle it because, in a very real sense, the pressure was off: there was no chance of ticking off boxes on a list of prerequisites for some arbitrary definition of success.
There was only surviving and following my passions.
I spent the first three years of high school at very small, selective private schools — private schools whose selection criteria were based not upon academic performance, but upon severe mental illness. Private schools which focused not so much on grades or on preparing their students for ivy-league futures, but on, you know, preparing their students to have some kind of future at all. Any kind of future.
The first two schools were basically full-on survival-mode schools attached to psychiatric hospitals: academically, I would have been falling behind my age-mates if I hadn’t spent most of my education up to that point in a selective prep school with an academically advanced curriculum. Academics weren’t the foremost concern at that point: the foremost concern was surviving, not starving myself to death, not committing suicide, becoming stable enough to stop winding up back in the hospital.
None of the schools where I spent my first three years of high school were focused on trying to get kids into top-notch universities. In fact, they really weren’t all that concerned with universities at all — they were focused on helping kids survive and not wind up in the hospital, rehab, or prison.
Just getting through the day without losing “points” — that was success. Being able to go on the end-of-week outing to the bowling alley — that was success. Eventually making it back to a mainstream high school or on to a community college — that was a gigantic win; a true cause for celebration.
If a student felt confident and stable enough to apply to colleges, that was an achievement — that would make the teachers and administrators at these schools immensely proud, but it wasn’t a major focus of any of these programs. Likewise, there was a real recognition that one’s worth had nothing to do with such markers of material success — so there was no pressure about it at all.
And so, with the pressure off, I learned a couple of things.
First, I learned that “success” was a pretty flexible idea.
Second, I learned that failing to tick the check-boxes on the road-map to a more typical kind of “success” doesn’t mean you can’t get there. There is, after all, usually more than one route to a given destination.
I applied to six or eight small, highly-selective colleges (including Amherst, Bennington, and Marlboro) when I was graduating from high school. I figured I didn’t have much to lose, so I wrote very frank, honest admissions essays about my experiences as a queer kid who had been through the psychiatric wringer.
I was accepted with scholarship offers to every single school I approached, and I suspect that my frankness about the path I’d trod to reach the point of application had a great deal to do with that.
Ultimately, I chose not to go, just then: I knew I wasn’t ready, which represents an entirely different kind of success, one that might feel very alien to most people from my particular background.
It’s weird how sometimes our weaknesses become our strengths.
Bipolar disorder derailed my life. It also afforded me the opportunity to discover that going off the rails isn’t the end of the world; that, in fact, as so many people wiser than I have pointed out, the greatest adventures take place when you wander off the map.
Bipolar taught me that you can, in fact, choose a new path; that you can redefine success; that you can always start over.
I learned that it is possible to make a comeback — and also possible to decide what “making a comeback” really means. I learned that success can be defined in many ways, and that sometimes you change your mind mid-stride about what “success” means.
Sometimes, when I’m frustrated about being “behind” my peers (who are, by now, completing graduate school or out making their way in the world) in terms of worldly success, it helps to remind myself of this fact.
Part of me still vaguely regrets the fact that I didn’t go to either Amherst, Bennington, or Marlboro. I think any of those experiences could have been awesome. They also might have been more conducive to a more typical path to a more normal kind of success. Then again, they might not have. I chose not to move on to higher education at the time because I knew there was a high likelihood I’d crack and flunk out, after all — and then I’d probably be right where I am now, anyway.
If you’d told thirteen-year-old me that I would wind up at a branch campus of a public university in the Midwest and that I’d be happy with that outcome, I probably would have looked at you as if you’d grown another head. I didn’t really have a coherent long-term vision at that time, but that sure as heck wouldn’t have matched any shred of a vision I did have. For that matter, I had only the vaguest sense of what and where the Midwest really was (at the time, I was all about Vermont).
So, basically, what I’m saying — here’s the TLDR version — is that one of the greatest gifts bipolar has given me is the gift of derailing my life.
That gift has allowed me to redefine success, to pursue my own definition of happiness, and (not insignificantly) to meet and marry the love of my life.
Yes, bipolar has made my life harder than it could have been. It continues, at times, to make my life hard. If I had the chance to wake up tomorrow without bipolar disorder, I might take it (if it didn’t come with side-effects and didn’t mean sacrificing the creativity that drives so much of my life).
And yet, at the same time, while bipolar has made my life harder, in a way it has also simply made my life.
And that is an unexpected gift.
So there you have it.
The next time I’m haranguing myself over how I have no right to even consider becoming some kind of psychotherapeutic professional, I will try to come back here and read this: because, I suspect, this is the gift that I have been given that I am meant to pass on to the world — the gift of understanding that a crashing derailleur can become the beginning of a beautiful journey, and that maybe the best thing that can happen is to simply lose the map.
Posted on 2015/01/27, in life and tagged bipolar, bipolar as a gift, here be dragons, off the map. Bookmark the permalink. 247 Comments.
Good piece!!! I know the disorder isnt a “dream” if you read my blog let freedom ring….i just have the outlook that i cant change the cards so play with them. If that makes sense!!!!! Truly an “unexpected gift”
Thank you for sharing your bipolar disorder. I think the more people discuss this the better understanding people will have. This had to be hard to blog about even if it is from your own experience.
You’re most welcome! For me, the hard part is figuring out how to couch things in words that won’t sound, I don’t know, bombastic or melodramatic or something.
Getting started was also hard: I wasn’t actually sure I really wanted to be “out” as a person with bipolar. Now, in all honety, shutting up once in a while is the hard part!
You’re very welcome! I know reading about others’ experiences has really helped me, so I hope to pay that forward a little. At this point, the hardest part for me is knowing when to shut up 😀
Thank you. Thank you for saying all this. Thank you for being honest about bipolar.
I can relate to the “shutting up once in a while is the hard part!” I recently was locked up for almost a year and when people ask me where I’ve been I tell them the truth: that I was addicted to heroin and subsequently I spent a lot of time locked up due to related charges. BUT I also let them know that this is the best thing that could have happened, for now I truly appreciate the good in life even what can seem very trivial. I think it’s awesome you’ve chosen to look on your issues in a positive light.
Reblogged this on dottoaliko.
I think your post is very powerful and encouraging for people who have bi-polar, and that it also gives those who don’t understand it, something solid to look at. I also was diagnosed with bi polar growing up. Now, I’m 44, and view it at whole different angle. God delivered my from bi-polar/manic depression, so, I no longer suffer with it. But, I recall he struggles all too well. I commend your veracity. If by chance you ever want to talk about/explore the spiritual side of it, let me know 🙂
I’m working on a project centered to bipolar.. I’d love to get the perspective of people like yourself, first hand-
Sure — if you have specific questions, just pop them into a comment, or let me know if you’d rather converse via email. My one caveat is that I have a large-ish school project going on, so I might be a little slow!
Via email would suffice… just drop your email here and I’ll shoot you a few questions as soon as possible.. And don’t worry about any delays in response on your end.. I have no stipulated due date for the project! Take your time and thanks a bunch:-)
Sure! Here it is in relatively bot-unfriendly form:
I’ll keep an eye out! ^-^
“Just Do It” can be such a harmful phrase. I also have bipolar disorder and it’s a huge trigger for me as my high school English teacher told me to “Just do it”.
I love this. Great job. You really captured some stuff that is generally overlooked but important. Thank you.
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Really appreciated you sharing this, thankyou. Would you return the favour by checking out my latest blog:)
I always love hearing about other peoples’ experiences, it’s sometimes hard to believe that others are in the same boat as you are… Maybe I should start seeing the positives, the intelligence and creativity (through productivity) has most definitely opened a huge door for my future!
Thanks for this 🙂
You are most welcome! It’s something I struggle with, too, often. The creativity part *is* awesome! ^_^
very glad to see someone point out the good,not just the bad and to make lemonade out of lemons 🙂
Thank you very much. I’ve been amazed at the response this post has received, and I’m so glad that people understand what I’m saying.
yes I understand exactly what you are saying and it has given me insight and helped me also
I have been labeled bipolar by an actual doctor since my 17th birthday but Ive been diagnosed by every person in my life since I was around 8. I am now 38 and 2 years without a uterus and I swear on all that I love that my life started the day of my hysterectomy.
It makes perfect sense that, for some of us at least, sex hormones are a huge part of the problem. I think thats an that needs further research from a neuroscience perspective, both for women and for men, at many different life stages.
If the doctors and drug companies were as intelligent and educated on the topic than many lives that are in ruins could be successful, fullfilling, and happy.
Reblogged this on Life Culture Express.
Thank you for this article. It makes me persevere and love and understand my spouse more who is diagnosed as bipolar.
You’re very welcome! 🙂 Glad to help!
That’s amazing and a very refreshing and inspiring perspective. I think we can all learn something from your attitude. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you! I admit, I’m not always quite this philosophical about it ^_^
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Reblogged this on A Different Travel Blog and commented:
This has inspired me to honestly address my bipolar disorder and how it effects my life. I will share those thoughts soon but in the meantime this is beautifully written.
Wow, thank you very much! Good luck on your journey!
Nhạc sĩ Trần Quốc Dũng
Vinh danh văn nghệ sĩ tôi yêu
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Nhạc sĩ Trần Quốc Dũng
Vinh danh văn nghệ sĩ tôi yêu
Reblogged this on Kelley Thorpe Baker, Mental Health and Wellness Consultant and commented:
Beautiful post; a bipolar blessing. With love, Kelley.
Reblogged this on marcojmossi.
Thank you for sharing your story. My daughter stuggles with bipolar and I am going to share your story with her. She was recently diagnosed and has been through so much over the past year. We are taking one day at a time, but she is in her senior year of high school and needs direction. I think she will find your story very inspiring as I have.
Thanks! Reading about others who are living with bipolar has definitely been a big help to me. Good luck to both of you!
Thanks for sharing apart of yourself, you could of kept private;)
I´ve always embraced my bipolarism and alot of the issues that comes along with it. Glad to hear it´s not all bad for you either.
I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one ^-^
Hi, my wife is bipolar and when we first met I didn’t know what in the world that was. A year into the relationship we moved in together and that’s when I was able to realize the moods. I’m not sure what kept me there through all the ups and downs of the disorder but one thing I do know was Ioved her and was not just going to walk away. I think that with my strength to not give up and understand that her yelling at me and slamming doors over the simplest discussion was not what she really wanted to do. I was able to embrace her and show her that the love is so strong that I was willing to walk it with her. To tell your the truth I don’t know how I managed as some would of ran away. Guess I looked passed it. Good luck to you.
I don’t know how my better half does it, either! You sound like a strong, good person, and I hope your wife appreciates you!
Here is a Huzzah to all the S.O.s and family members who put up with the craziness of dealing with BPD loved ones!
Yes she does and I do to. Not sure where I would be without her.
Thank you for this article. I have a bipolar desorder too, and I wouldn’t change that, even if I could. (And I was considering those thoughts akward, but maybe not that much 🙂 )
It does feel odd to say it. I think the word “disorder” is part of the challenge!
“So, basically, what I’m saying — here’s the TLDR version — is that one of the greatest gifts bipolar has given me is the gift of derailing my life.
That gift has allowed me to redefine success, to pursue my own definition of happiness, and (not insignificantly) to meet and marry the love of my life.”
Honest and inspiring. Thank you.
Perfect TL;D version! Thanks! ^-^
I’m such a dinosaur, I had to Google “TL;DR!” I read/loved the entire post, but those two lines were my favorite 🙂
Thanks for putting face to this baffling medical condition. You have embraced life’s deck of cards fully, despite being dealt a joker. Congrats on your blog being Freshly Pressed by WordPress,. Let’s hope your writing inspires others. Good job.
Thanks so very much! I like your analogy. Bipolar is definitely a joker!
(Also, Funny, I didn’t even know I’d been Freshly Pressed! :D)
You were, and it is a well-deserved honor.
Really enjoyed your post. As a fellow bi-polar person, i really appreciate posts like this that explain, de-stigmatize, and try to gain some basic empathy from those people who dismiss or deride the effects of bi-polar on those that suffer with it. 40% of people diagnosed with bi-polar end up not being able to maintain full-time jobs. It is a difficult thing not knowing how one’s emotions are going to play out any given day or going days or even weeks in rushing manias or crippling depression. We need to have more articles like this so “normal” people can gain a glimpse of what we go through. We really need to redefine “normal” and as you mentioned, redefine “success”, if we hope to have fewer of us kill ourselves because we don’t live up to societal or family expectations and instead just try to embrace our “illness” and the life course it inevitably forces us to chart. Thanks.
Thank you! I’m so glad to hear that this post is working in that way. I agree with you — I know I’ve struggled with the impact of my bipolar disorder in work and school, and I hope that by sharing my struggled I can help people understand. You’re very welcome!
Reblogged this on radicalresponse.org
I liked reading your post. You are effective at conveying your personality in writing, and I am so in agreeance with the moral of your story.
I don’t deal with bipolar, but I totally relate to this theme. I grew up in a loving home, but sheltered (only realized this looking back), home-schooled (fond memories), and I totally had this thought about what my future “should” hold for me. I was very judgmental of others, but I thought I was a pretty great person.
I think God has a sense of humor, because after high school and through my 20s, I have been put face to face with my own imperfections and faults. I believe that, because I had such a pious outlook growing up, that I needed to metaphorically get kicked in the nuts several times over the years so that I could see just how vulnerable and how human I am. I am not a great person, I have a plenitude of flaws… and I am comfortable with that now. I know what I am (creative, silly, human) and what I’m not (anywhere remotely near perfect).
Life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would.™ And, just like you found out… it’s more about being grateful for the things life HAS turned out to be for you. Big ups to you! #glasshalffull
I hear you about needing to learn humility via a swift kick in the pants! I’m still learning that lesson from time to time. Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comment. You sound like a brave person, and like you’re on your way!
You basically described my life except for the home schooling bit. I feel your confusion and pain!
You are insightful, humble, and true. What a great way to be! Kudos to you…you actually ARE a great person.
Thank you for sharing. We went through quite a few years (with much frustration and errors on all our parts) before our son was correctly diagnosed. He’s been dealing with this on his own, but right now he’s realized that his high is making everybody else low. But he has a gift of creating with his hands and that gets him through each day. Thanks for sharing.
Reaching diagnosis can be a huge hurdle — I’m glad your family has made it through. It sounds like you have excellent insight into your son’s strengths and weaknesses, and that will help you all going forward.
“One Day at a Time” is a solid strategy. Between the racing thoughts and the nadir of despair there is seldom a level playing field. Once you are aware of your condition and become knowledgeable of the ramifications of BPD you are better able to deal with Activities of Daily Living. My BPD was genetically transmitted at birth. Many family members are similarly afflicted. I was not diagnosed until I was 52 years old. It took six years of knowing something was terribly wrong until I was diagnosed. I felt like I was born under a bad star. When I was diagnosed I found out my sister had been diagnosed two years prior. In fact at least 4 of the 6 members in my immediate family were BPD, my baby brother died very young so we don’t know in his case. It took a couple of years to get up to speed knowledge-wise. And a couple more years to develop an effective means of dealing with the problem. What ever the cause of the disorder; It doesn’t have to be genetic, knowing that your brain chemistry is the problem has helped me immensely. When the depression hits I can rationalize that it is a biochemical thing and not ME. Suicidal despair dropped out of the equation. Hurrah! I take things one day at a time until one way or another the chemical imbalance recedes. I don’t get much done in this state but at least I know tomorrow is another day. Sun Tsu said over 2500 years ago to overcome the enemy you must first know the enemy.
Reblogged this on pojapotirdana.
waxan ahay maxamed jama
I loved reading this entry! I’m 32 and was diagnosed bipolar this year. I’m trying to embrace it like u have learned and find out how to use it positively. In a productive way. I started my own blog for the first time today. Thank you for the candid read. Keep it up! You have a great way of making others feel enlightened!
Thanks, and congrats on starting a blog! I’ve found that it’s really useful for me — like, I don’t really journal, but I can pick back over old blog entries and get a sense of my mood patterns. It sounds like you’re starting out on the right foot!
I started my first blog today too! When I’m manic I make plans and lists. I get as much done as possible and when the inevitable drop off fails I use my lists and plans to at least make a little forward progress on most days. Find out as much as you can about BPD, as quickly as you can. With enough knowledge you can avoid some of the train wrecks. Look for and smell the roses. There are always a few.
Mental illness is how you define it. Also, attitude helps. I try not to feel pity at myself, because it does no good. Instead, I keep on walking. And writing, MY passion.
Excellent point! You’re right, attitude makes a world of difference, as do finding those actions and passions that keep you going.
I agree with everything you are saying but for your initial premise. At root the disease is biochemical in your brain. I can model a situation and define the boundary conditions of the situation in the most convincing manner; but the illness effects the brain and colors its definition. I recommend you read Norman Spinrad’s Short Story: “Carcinoma Angels”. Everything else you have said is to the point; especially the part about being passionate.
One thing I learned about Bi-Polar is that the patient needs to have a Free T3 blood test.
Here’s to your Health!
Evelyn what does a T3 blood test measure? How often should this indicator be tested?
T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone. People who are depressed and people who are thought to be bi-polar should be checked. People with memory problems might also benefit.
You might find more in my blog Here’s To Your Health! evelynmmaxwell.com
This is a reply to emmx below. Thank you I’ll make sure I get T3 panels added to my standing blood work levels. My Psychiatrist and I work together to keep an eye on my drug regimen. I have a lot of health issues. If it wasn’t for real bad health I wouldn’t have any health at all, but to the point I see my pshrink twice a year rgarding BPD. You should see yours at least once a year.
My memory is not what I would hope it could be. The Blood tests may tell. I sing all the time and constantly relearn songs. I think this is a good way to exercise those memory muscles. May you have a healthy year to Doc.
Reblogged this on Samuel Cavazos and commented:
Thank you for writing this.
You’re most welcome! Thank you for reading it ^-^
Reblogged this on coughlins'homespunyarns and commented:
I will reblog this as well. There is a lot of good information here.
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Reblogged this on yorkbassman and commented:
Success redefined – a great blog.
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Everyone is some kinda crazy, “Some of us are just better at hiding it”. I’m dealing with several mental illnesses of my own.
I know I’m hard on myself, comparing me to my peers. I’ve built character, resiliency and now going through treatments to figure it all out. In addition I measure up after all, I was just using the wrong ruler. 😄
Thank you for your honesty. And you write very well 😃
Your post is so inspiring that’s there’s a light somewhere in this madness. Can’t wait to read your post that you talked about on the more creative side and the blessings of this.
Thankyou for such an honest and beautiful post!!… I do not suffer from bipolarism but I can totally relate to the post…I had goosebumps reading it!!…Respect for your courage and perseverence, it has given me hope and belief that eveything does not end with failure… People usually write off others on failure but reading your post makes me believe things will get better for me also … Thanks for sharing your personal story and internal conflicts with us…Some of us who are not good at sharing such feelings feel that they are not alone!!
I was moved by your story, particularly because I myself had a psychiatric problem during my early puberty. It was a severe depression coming from bullying. I know I did display above average mental abilities but it was still too early on. I don’t know if my illness diminished my intelligence in any way, though I recovered, but I really am a person of inner conflicts. My parents put a huge pressure on me from a very early age and now I see academic achievement as a fundamental need and priority. And I define my social value on this basis. I could relate to you even more, because I don’t identify with the gender I was assigbed at birth. I’m bigender. Or maybe just frustrated with my social roles. All I know is that I feel home this way.
Reblogged this on inastrangersmind.
Asher, I just wanted to say that this piece was very honest and truthful. I don’t suffer with Bipolar, but know people who do, who feel the exact way you do. I do suffer with anxiety, which has affected me (on a smaller scale) in similar kinds of ways that you describe. Particularly, the way that it offers me a unique perspective about my life direction and how I define success. I would define my anxiety as an unexpected gift at times as well.
Would you mind if I reblog? 🙂
I wouldn’t mind in the least. Reblog away! 🙂
Reblogged this on appia2015's Blog.
Hi again, thought you might be interested in reading this 🙂 https://accordingtovicki.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/anxiety-as-an-unexpected-gift/
I’m curious. The first attack seems to come suddenly, what triggered it? And thank you for sharing! Mental illnesses are still very much a taboo topic, even in Singapore! (where I’m staying)
You’re most welcome! I hope I can answeradequately ^—^
The thing to remember with bipolar disorder is that, while life stressors can trigger episodes (and may be implicated in whether o not someone with the genetic tendency for bipolar develops symptoms, and if so, how severely), it’s very much a genetically-inherited neurological condition — so, in my case, the precursors were already in place.
I had some seriously traumatic experiences in the year preceding my first hospitalization, but those experiences didn’t cause my bipolar disorder; they just pushed my brain chemistry way further out of balance than it has been before or since (I’ve had some bad episodes since then, but not as bad). Likewise, the development of full-blown bipolar disorder often seems to coincide with periods of rapid brain changes — usually late adolescence or young adulthood. Though I was not yet in adolescence proper, I would guess that some of the changes in the brain that precede it were probably already happening.
I hope this helps! I think as our understanding of mental illness evolves away from older psychodynamic models and towards biological models, stigna will begin to fade — or, at least, I certainly hope so!
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You have much to say to teens and their parents who are trying to cope now. I take your honesty and hold it near my heart as my children face the same difficulties as you describe. I have hope that they will find their road even after or because of derailment. Happy Valentines Day. This was a message of love to yourself and tomany others.
Wow, thank you! I take that as a pretty high compliment! I wish you and your children success in finding paths that fit. It is definitely a challenge, but having a conscious, caring parent on their side should count for a lot. Happy Valentine’s Day to you as well, and thank you for sending much-needed love out into the world.
Hardest part of bipolar is trying to explain the experience on the way up to mania. There is a component of clarity in all the chaos that surrounds the journey. I would liken it to trying to explain the feeling of being in zero gravity to someone who’s never been there.
That is so true. Definitely a challenge for me, as well.
yep…it’s no use trying to explain myself…if that’s needed get the fuck out of my car…hope your day is going well
I have to admit, when I first saw the title of this article I thought I would be both offended and vehemently disagree with you.
You see – I have been married almost 13 years to my wife who suffers from bi-polar disorder (which has wreaked havoc on our marriage), has tried to commit suicide and to top it off is a recovering from alcoholism and an eating disorder. I would never in a million years call her bi-polar disorder a gift, either to her or our marriage.
I started my blog as a way to tell my story, gain insight into what my wife is going through and educate myself about her mental health issues. Part of educating yourself means that you have to be open to other perspectives. So once I was done reading your post all I have to say is bravo. Bravo for not letting your mental health issues define and limit you. Bravo for dealing with the “bad” and maximizing the “good.” Most importantly, bravo for having the courage to tell your story so that other, like me, can continue to gain more knowledge about bi-polar disorder.
Thank you! That may be the best thing anyone could possibly say to me about this post! I have a feeling that my initial response to a post by sometime wise with this title would be much like yours. All too often, posts with titles like mine are written from a kind of “this worked to fix me, so it should fix you, too” perspective, or one that overlooks the very real struggle of living with mental illness, or tries to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. I’m glad mine doesn’t come off that way!
Reblogged this on No more Secrets and commented:
Thank you for sharing – you are an inspiration.
Wow I am glad bipolar has been a gift of sorts to you. That has not been my experience. Maybe because I have fought the lessons it is supposedly teaching me?? I don’t know lol. Anyway I am happy for you and hopefully I will reach that point of peace with mine.
Admittedly, this is something that has evolved over a long period, and also something I don’t feel all the time. Sometimes I just hate bipolar and want to kick it in the teeth!
aaaamen, I am all for the kicking, AFTER your leg gets better lol
Bravo. Life seems bipolar. All shines around us, a heartless world bring depression… Ikiru!!
my bipolar isn’t your bipolar…I remain mostly “up” but many of my friends are down so far that survival is a miracle…thanks for posting
Reblogged this on inglorious Resurrection and commented:
I found this a dope read… Vaguely touches on topics I’ve spoken about in my own blog… A testament that being a Deviant is never bad… It’s simply a misunderstood truth and a gift few can handle… And none have been taught to handle..
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Reblogged this on notsodeepthoughtsbyshareenmansfield and commented:
My mum has bi-polar and it has definitely taught me to screw what society thinks is the norm. Restarting your life over is no mean feat, but it is a great lesson to watch it happen over and over again. There is always hope.
I admire your truthfulness and being able to see the good in an otherwise devastating situation. Thank you for sharing your heart 🙂
Yep, I’m with you on that asher.
I don’t hold with externalising certain aspects of myself and calling them afflictions or diseases I have. Bipolar is a big part of what I am – much more so than career or physical appearance. And I’m happy with what I am so I’m happy with my bipolar.
I think you put your finger on a big part of the problem people, neurotypical or otherwise, have with themselves. The idea there is a life track they need to comply with in order to be ‘successful’ or ‘fulfilled’. None of us really control our own lives and being bipolar drives that lesson home repeatedly. It’s not just the magic to be found when you go off the beaten track that makes life so interesting, it’s the magic of realising you don’t need tracks.
I don’t drive my life, I ride it. In fact I surf it. It would be pretty damned dull without the crests and troughs.
Life is ups and downs and bipolar is just life. Turned up to 11. Or 111.
Hi, Asher, provocative title. Thank you for describing your life of hospitalizations and attending high schools for students with SED. Without doubt, your life – like the lives of many of us living with bipolar disorder – was derailed by bipolar disorder. Thank you for sharing what you learned from your experience: that “success” is a flexible idea, to pursue one’s own idea of happiness, and to love. Yes, your life has been difficult, but it is your life, the life you have led. You, like many of us living with bipolar disorder, are brave and have made the best of it. Good for you.
Awesome insight on this issue. Thanks for sharing your story, and good luck in your new found journey 🙂
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I really enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing your experiences, and a bit of your journey. All the best to you. I understand exactly what you mean.
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I really enjoyed reading this. I look at it as a gift as well 🙂
I have often referred to Bipolar disorder as a sweet bouquet of roses with a wicked crop of thorns. Believe me, I’m hearing you. Be sure to thank the ones who have helped you through the scholastic meat grinder, as well as the rest of your life.
Have you read anything by Kay Redfield Jamison? If not, let me say it’s well worth it. No instructions, no judgements, just lots of keen, well articulated insight. May we all prosper on the journey.
Great analogy! I’ve been meaning to check out Jamison’s writings for a while. Thanks for the reminder!
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I reacted differently to this post than most of the other bloggers (mainly to the title of your post, to be honest) and I felt compelled to write a blog post about the concept of bipolar disorder as a gift. It got a great, lively discussion going on in my blog.
After I shared the link to your post, 5 of my amazing followers read & commented here: Just Plain ‘Ol Vic, Kitt O’Malley, Nicole Lyons, Cabrogal, kbaliley374.
Below is the link to my blog post in case anyone wants to read different takes.
I know that no matter what we all think of bipolar disorder as a gift in our lives or not, everyone wants the best for you, Asher, so please don’t take any of this the wrong way!
Take care and congratulations on inspiring a lot of people. That is what matters more than anything at the end of the day.
Thanks both for reading my post and for sharing a dissenting opinion! That takes guts! I actually completely agree that bipolaf is unequivocally not a gift for children of parents with bipolar — which is a primary factor in our decision not to raise kids. I wouldn’t want to be raised by me. I also feel that it’s not a gift to the people who care for those of us with bipolar. Denis seems to think that the way I’m wired adds something to his life, but in terms of our relationship, I think it basically just complicates things.
Likewise, I don’t by any means think that bipolar is a gift for everyone who has it, or a remotely unequivocal gift even for me (in fact, what I’m really talking about, I think, isn’t bipolar itself being a gift, but rather the way some of the effects it has had in my life have proven serendipitous in the long run — I should probably write more about that at some point.)
I do have a concern that this post, which I wrote to remind myself that bipolar hasn’t objectively ruined my life and has led to some outcomes I might have missed without it, could be read by some as a statement that bipolar isn’t the profoundly difficult neurological illness that it is (at least, it could if it’s not read closely) or taken as permission to choose not to manage the condition wisely (which seems all too common, unfortunately).
I feel like I should probably adress those issues in further posts, and I’m very glad to have your thoughts and the thoughts of your readers as touchstones.
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Hits the nail on the head and is definitely worth a read.
A definite worthwhile read thanks for your honesty in this post.
Good luck to you
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What an inspiring story! Thank you for sharing.
Bipolar is tough for sure but it can be productive, that is indeed title of my blog. I always say to fellow bipolarians; as i like to call us; that embrace bipolar as a part of yourself and it will get better as now you will be prepared for the sudden onslaught of that super creative phase of mania or that dead drop depressive cycle. Lets be happy and lets be productive with our bipolars, thanks for this nice read mate.
Thats so dumb
Hey, there. I totally welcome dissenting views 🙂 . Any further thoughts on what’s dumb about it?
Yes your face ヾ(＠⌒ー⌒＠)ノ
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You’re a beautiful soul. Therapeutic benefits of vulnerability are becoming popular. This article shows us why. Many people in helping professions self-identify. In helping others, we help ourselves. You have been given a beacon to raise to illuminate other’s darkness.
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I’m a new blogger, started up a blog about 10 minutes ago, so I feel like a real amateur. But I thoroughly enjoyed your post.
I reblogged it at HopefullSouls.wordpress.com
I think people should definitely read what your writing, hopefully your reaching out to them.
I endorse this Whole Heartedly asher. It is too easy for some folks who think BPD is some sort of designer disease. “When Life gives you Lemons…. make a Daquiri. just don’t assume that means it’s good for you.
“I do have a concern that this post, which I wrote to remind myself that bipolar hasn’t objectively ruined my life and has led to some outcomes I might have missed without it, could be read by some as a statement that bipolar isn’t the profoundly difficult neurological illness that it is (at least, it could if it’s not read closely) or taken as permission to choose not to manage the condition wisely (which seems all too common, unfortunately).”
This has to be one of the most motivational writing I have ever read.
Hey Asher, came across your post from other blogs I follow… my, my, within the bipolar community you have certainly put the cat among the pigeons! I’ve been bipolar since my early 20’s. My life has been a roller coaster ride, my children’s lives have been a roller coaster ride and my poor long suffering husband has had more than his fair share of ups and downs with me. I can’t agree that my bipolar or any aspect of it is a gift. I can’t agree that there is anything in me that I would not gladly do without if it meant the bipolar was gone. I would gladly cut off my left arm myself if I could get rid of my bipolar. It hasn’t made me unique in any way, shape or form and while I read your article and can to a degree have some idea of where you came from, I cannot ever view this illness as a gift. Its not. Its debilitating, destructive, vicious, cruel and malicious at its worst. At its best, it is the absence of the worst parts. If you choose to embrace your bipolarity (!!), and look at the ‘bright side’ then I applaud you, but for the most part, most sufferers of manic depression don’t view it in this positive way at all. But – in the end – we are all entitled to our own views. Me telling you you are wrong would be the wrong thing to do, so I think we shall just have to agree to disagree. Well written though!!
Hi, I just found your blog through “Freshly Pressed.” I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for reading your story. It was brave of you to decide to wait to go to college until you were completely ready. I wish I had your courage when I was eighteen. 🙂
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You’re as successful as anyone, is success making an aptitude from a hindrance? X
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Success – perhaps best defined as creating an aptitude from a hindrance? Does success really come from underlying potential, or does it come from an underlying desire to OVERCOME a setback!? I dunno..
Damn thanks for sharing.
Love this. Thank you.
Reblogged this on createthinklive and commented:
Amazing post! Inspirational!
Some of my best ideas have come in my manic episodes, so I can’t hate my little demon as much as I’d want. Great read.
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This is, without doubt, exceptional and inspiring.
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I couldn’t relate to your perspective more. Coming from a traditional and stoic Asian family, the pressures of success have only bogged me down. It took bipolar derailing my life to realize that those weren’t my own definitions of success. I don’t allow time to give me anxiety and I simply focus on enjoying small things. I feel happier now than I ever did before, though I’m bipolar 2. I’m also pursuing a career in mental health (PsyD). You’re so insightful and a great writer. Look forward to more of your posts.
Great post and very moving a, I didn’t know I was diagnosed with uni bipolar and I couldn’t imagine the upper side because of my drugs I have them hear and there when over dosed of it and it was terrible to feel so out of control but cudos to the post. Please check out some of my work if you could!
Reblogged this on chronicathlete and commented:
If you want to know what bipolar disorder is like for someone living with it then check this page out. It’s very well written and gives a sharp insight from a first hand account. More people than we know are living with this condition and it needs to be taken seriously.
Thank you for sharing your personal story, I think this is a gift to many people 🙂
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I really enjoyed your open discussion about success. I’ve had bipolar disorder for more than half of my life (all of my adult life) and my definition of success is one that works for me. I enjoyed your blog very much and invite you to come check out mine too.
Stay positive Asher! It’s great you can see the silver lining. My life too is nothing how I imagined but, actually, I rather like it & I’m a better person I think I would have been 😉
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The irony of this article is I’m sitting in an intake for bipolar depression. Great read. Thanks
You’re welcome. I hope they will treat you with kindness and compassion!
Incredibly well said! Many in my family suffer from Bi-Polarism, but very few have had the insight or the ability to see the silver lining in that particular cloud.
hink sometimes people are driven to much and too much is expected of them.
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You are magnificent. As the product of a bipolar mother and possibly a little that way inclined myself (read: I am confident I am but have avoided diagnosis), this spoke volumes to me. Thank you.
You’re welcome. I’m still really surprised, amazed, and touched by the response this post has received!
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Thanks so much for sharing your journey. The people who travel a straight line are boring and when their line becomes crooked, they’re unable to cope.
Beautiful insight. I’ve also believed that those of us with highly creative minds and high intelligence are often given those gifts as a two sided coin, the flip side of which is some sort of mental instability or illness. I suffer from OCD and some level of ADHD and dyscalculia. I spent most of my life not realizing that other people’s brains work differently. Not everybody thinks like “us”. Mental illness has such a stigma and it’s only through honest, personal, and beautifully written posts like yours that we can begin to humanize ourselves to others. I try to do that when I blog about my OCD and the struggle of having a brain that is running 100 mph focusing on a dozen things all at once and obsessing about every single facet of those things.
Thanks very much. I love your last sentence, there — it gives me a clear view into a little slice of what it’s like to live in your brain, and I think those little views are so important to helping people understand us.
One more thing — my old roommate had dyscalculia. That’s another thing I hope you’ll get a chance to write about, because (as I’m sure you know) so few people know about it. I think you could really help improve understanding about it.
If you’d like a clearer picture of what OCD is like for me (just like you said, your bi-polar is different from other people’s, so goes my OCD) then check out my first post on the matter.
Reblogged this on Chronicle of a Wayward Son and commented:
This is a wonderfully written piece by a young woman struggle with mental illness. I don’t often write about my struggles with OCD these days but I keep my fight going quietly. When I read something like this I think of two things:
1 – I need to write about my challenges with OCD more. It was the biggest part of why I started writing his blog to begin with. If even one person out there can relate to and find solidarity with my struggle then surely I must write!
2 – Bi-polar makes my OCD seem like a cakewalk.
Thanks 🙂 I definitely find writing about it helpful, and I have often been comforted and inspired by the writings of others going through similar struggles, so I definitely encourage you to write about yours.
Aaaaand I wake up this morning to find several typos in my comment. That’s what I get for blogging from my phone in bed at midnight. I’ll be fixing those shortly
I have done that soooooooo many times! The tyranny of technology.
Great post. I have been living with this illness for a long time as well. Your post struck me because I had just written a post about the same thing! I was thinking about how bitter-sweet it is. We gain depth of perspective through our episodes, but wisdom comes at a price. I wouldn’t change a thing though. You don’t have to check it out, but if you want to it is called “My Bitter-sweet Bipolar http://bipolarscorpio.com/2015/02/28/my-bittersweet-bipolar/
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Thanks for sharing. Really insightful and powerful for people either living life with it or around it. Very gutsy to speak out like that
I too suffer from being Bipolar. I also have severe complex ptsd and borderline personality disorder.
All my illnesses are from the environment I grew up with. It is my sincere desire to write and publish a book about my experiences in a manner that helps others….
I’ve tried so many times over the years to write it, but the content is so mind boggling that I struggle to write.
I think it can be hardest to write about the things we’re closest to. For what it’s worth, if you feel comfortable writing about your experiences publicly, blogging might be a good way to begin writing about the material.
With a blog, you can work on small chunks at a time; later, you can organize those chunks into a book. Authors have done this in one form or another for centuries (many autobiographies begin as diaries).
Thank you asher. Its hard because i had to move to a different state to be safe. I have been sitting on a blog with a pix of me, thinking maybe change my name first to be safe. Not paranoid but real life here.
I understand. Yeah, in that sort of situation, using a pen name makes perfect sense — and that’s another thing authors have been doing for centuries, so there’s plenty of precedent ^-^
Thank you! I am just getting familiar with WordPress and was looking for you for awhile on my computer earlier today. I still have alot to learn …just to find you its ridiculous. But here you are on my mobile app. Well tomorrow is another day. Thank you again. 👓
An interesting article in the Guardian by a writer with bipolar.
Thanks! Looks like a snow day tomorrow, so I should have a chance to relax and read this.
Reblogged this on ShereeKrider.
Thank you for a very encouraging and insightful look into your life. I have lived with Depression (high anxiety, major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder) all of my life although not “officially diagnosed” until age 25. I missed more days of school than I went even though learning and reading were my favorite things to do. I did manage to graduate high school with a business curriculum and worked in that field until age 33 when I had so much going on physically as well as mentally that I left my job – – which was a good paying job for someone “like me”. In my later years when my two children were of age I thought to myself what can “I” do? What do I know the most about and what do I like doing that I do not have to leave the house very often(?) The answer: Since I was/am/always will be an advocate of Cannabis and I grew up in a very politically conversed household I ended up blogging for “Cannabis” you might say and then progressed on to the U.S. Marijuana Party which I now own. It does not pay the bills….In fact it only has only cost me money since I first started in 2005. But it is my work, my passion, my belief. I am an anti-prohibitionist, pro civil rights person and am not afraid to write about it! It doesn’t matter if I make any money at it or not – (I have learned to survive on disability) – and do not care for money very much anyway as it is just a “necessary evil” to me. And I am not a fan of leaving the house as all of my family and friends will tell you…..Some things are just hard to do for me and will never get better. But learning to live and use what God has given you is a more important mission in life than going to “Walmart”….
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Well written thanks for sharing
I can relate to the derailing life several times piece. Having four DX’s including Bipolar one, my life has taken dip several times where I have had to start over in career pursuings often. Where my peers are successful in their careers due to the longevity of working, mine has never really taken off due to mental illness in general. I have yet to determine if my DX’s are more curse or gift for many reasons.
The career-disruption factor can be one of the hardest things to cope with, especially in a culture that so thoroughly equates career with identity (so much so that the first thing we tend to ask a new acquaintance is, “What do you do?”). That is one thing I do worry about over the long run, and one of the reasons I feel very fortunate to be in a position to find and pursue a career that is less likely to be derailed by my bipolar disorder. It has led me to reflect quite a bit on the disservice or culture does to those who have mental illnesses and to itself by failing to offer appropriate support services.
In short, with appropriate supports, people with mental illness can be productive (and our experiences offer us useful insights into the human condition) , but as a culture, we still regard mental illness as moral shortcoming. As such, access to help and support services is difficult to get and the help and support available is often overtaxed and inadequate.
I feel the same way for preventative services for physical disabilities: right now, there’s a big cultural gap between being “able enough to succeed” and being “disabled enough to deserve help,” and the result is that people who could live pretty successful lives with a little support slip through the cracks and often wind up permanently disabled. So they lose their quality of life, and society at large loses their unique contributions to the working world — everyone loses. It’s very frustrating.
As for the blessing-vs-curse dichotomy: I find it helps not to think of mine as being more one or the other.
There are definitely times — sometimes for long stretches — that bipolar, in particular, makes my life worse.
There aren’t, meanwhile, times that it makes my life objectively better (my manic episodes, in particular, are often dysphoric). Still, it has led me in directions that I wouldn’t necessarily have gone, and some of those diversions have led in turn to outcomes that I would have otherwise missed. Likewise, in my case, it has helped me learn to be more compassionate about other people’s difficulties than I probably would have been, given my nature and upbringing.
I try to avoid assigning credit for my creativity to my mental illness, but I do think that my experiences living with it inform my creative work in meaningful ways.
This is all stuff I should probably write about. Sometimes it seems like we’re constantly being asked to decide whether to regard our challenges as gifts or curses, but I don’t think reality works that way. We don’t have to decide. They can be both in ways that makes it impossible to draw a distinction.
Edited for typos, d’oh!
Thank you for your thoughtful feedback. Very cool. I know it gets old that much of what you hear about being bipolar is the negatives and doomsday. There really are plus’s but society is just hell bent on the negative. All I really wanted was to keep up with my peers when it concerns schooling and careers. Crushed me that I did not in the career field. I do have my big share of successes though but not without the struggles of mental illness.
Thank you, I really needed to read this article today. 🙂
Thank you. I keep telling my friend about how she has an unexpected gift. Your post is inspiring…
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Thank you for this. I feel ‘off the rails’ at the moment. I’ve been trying to find a way back on, but your article made me consider that maybe it’s okay to be here. Maybe being on the rails and having a job is more for other people than for me. Wishing you the best of luck with life and everything.
Thank you. That’s a tough place to be, especially in a culture that doesn’t understand — but, yes, I think it’s a valid part of life for us, and sometimes a necessary one. I wish you healing and understanding on your journey, on or off the rails.
Your comments about redefining your vision of happiness are very important. People who have never gone off the rails never see the need to do this. I wonder how many people really examine their lives, if they are not forced by circumstance to do so.
What an excellent insight! I think that may be one of the most useful lessons I’ve gained through this process, but I’ve never thought to put it into words. Just as I feel very differently about my body and its relationship to the world as a result of having been all over the weight spectrum, I feel very different about what “happiness” means than I probably would have if I wasn’t living with bipolar disorder.
Socrates pointed out that “The unexamined life is not worth living,” and yet we still haven’t really gained the nack for examining our lives unless we’re pressed to do so.
Thanks very much for this thought.
This is such an inspiring post that gives hope for both my middle aged self and for my new to college age kids. Thank you for sharing.
Well written, thank you!
Wow! I related strongly to this, and find your words inspiring and beautiful. I am in the midst of a tough decision myself… I was thinking about going back to school for a Psy.D., but anticipate that my depression and anxiety would make me “crack and flunk out” (to borrow your words) like I did in my first round of higher education. I’m leaning now more toward pursuing self-education, so I can work on things when I can, and not when I can’t, and still absorb the information I need to in order to help people (in what context, I don’t yet know — I may never be licensed, but there are other paths). The path I’ve gone down has also led me to the love of my life, and other pleasant surprises. It’s true, sometimes painful circumstances have a silver lining, and sometimes the ‘un-beaten path’ has more rewards than one might initially think. Thank you for sharing! =)
I think self-education is fantastic and deeply under-rated — and I like the fact that we’re starting to evolve methods (online certifications and so forth) by which people can be recognized for the knowledge and wisdom they gain that way.
Speaking of wisdom, taking the time to weigh what you really need in a decision like that reflects a lot of wisdom. It’s hard in our achievement-oriented culture to step back and say, “Maybe this isn’t where I need to go just now,” and the ability to do so demonstrates keen insight.
You know, I hadn’t even considered that — online certifications, and being tested on what I’ve learned on my own. But maybe there are (or will be) more options for me in this area than I thought. I will explore this. Thank you for bringing it up!
You’re right that there is value in being able to tune out the cultural noise and look at what’s really the best solution for individual circumstances. Individual needs and ways of learning vary vastly. I remember reading in Susan Cain’s “Quiet” that the individual is often the one best suited to identify their strong and weak points and where they need to challenge themselves, so a self-designed course of study, in some cases, can be much more productive than accredited institutional or group work.
Thanks for the validation and good food for thought.
You’re most welcome! I always say “I love living in the future” because of stuff like that 😀
I’ll have to check out “Quiet.” That sounds like a good book.
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I was once diagnosed as bipolar….perhaps there was something to the label – I certainly passed through a phase that fit the description. I have long since felt I “outgrew” that label and yet every now and then I find myself having spurts of like you say “superhuman” productivity – that are perhaps a lingering blessing of not really being “normal” 🙂 who is?
That’s a really interesting thing. It does seem that there are some people for whom, once the neurological firestorm of adolescence (and young adulthood, since the brain doesn’t really “settle out” until at least around age 24) is over, things really calm down. That would be an interesting phenomenon to study!
You make a great observation, here — “normal” is one of those concepts that recedes towards meaninglessness the closer we look! I think this is one of the things I like about the much-maligned DSM-V — it recognizes that almost all psychiatric disorders exist on a continuum, and most of them reflect extreme exacerbations of normal brain function.
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Hello Asher! I must say I know how you feel, I am bipolar. I am thankful to have found your blog.
Thanks! I hope it proves helpful 🙂 Others’ blogs have definitely proven to be a great support on my own journey into the great unknown that Bipolar so often seems. Welcome!
Brilliant read, thank you for sharing.
Great story, thanks for sharing. Check my site out please:
The questions seems whether it is possible for most to live with the symptoms of bipolar med free or is bound to a lifetime of pills. I believe you can be med free with the right support system. Now to find it!
I think it really varies by individual (oops; hit “post” too soon, here) — for some of us, meds are worth it and make life a whole lot better. For others, they don’t. I’m one of the ones for whom they don’t, so my goal is to avoid them (or, at least, the ones that mess me up the worst) as long as possible.
I hope that, eventually, standard psychiatric and therapeutic practice will catch up with the notion that meds really don’t work for some of us, and work on finding some scalable solutions for those of us for whom meds aren’t a good solution.
Just coming to terms (do we ever?) with this diagnosis. Your words aee helpful and hopeful. Thank you for your honesty and courage x
Thanks! And, that’s a good question (do we ever, that is).
For me, it’s up and down. Right now, I’m coping pretty well, but there are times that it still really leaves me feeling hopeless. It’s hardest at those times, whereas right now, when I’m feeling pretty close to euthymic, I can be philosophical about it.
Finally having a good support network and being on a path that involves doing something that I both live and find therapeutic are also huge, huge helps, but not ones that are necessarily easy to come by for those of us with bipolar … So I’m not going to do what do many self-help articles written for us do and say, “Build a strong support network and find a calling in life that you love!”
Instead, I’ll say, “I hope you’ll find both those things, if you haven’t already, and that it helps you as much as it helps me.”
Thank you for sharing that. I have been blessed with many wonderful friends, and I have always felt passionately that those who struggle with mental issues should not suffer in shame- but I have to say I am finding the process of developing a helpful support network quite nerve-racking! No matter to what extent these conditions become more openly discussed by celebrities and prominent psychiatrists,etc., it still feels that people respond unexpectedly to even a hint at BP. At least it is awkward rather than condemning for the most part. But I am learning it’s a little like travel sickness: people who have not experienced the effects simply cannot fathom the extent of its symtoms! So, for now, tip-toeing around the subject whilst trying to diseminate a handful of information and explanation here and there are the order if the day for me. This, and trying to be brave enough to trust in Love.
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