Living with bipolar traits is my normal life. And no, I am not sick or disordered, thank you very much!

One of the hardest things I find myself dealing with on a daily basis, is figuring out why I feel the way I feel.  The answer to this question is important,  because it decides how I will deal with myself and my emotions. 

The problem is:  it is so damn hard to distinguish if I feel as I do because of my brain chemistry,  or because there was a trigger.  In other words: are the chemicals in my brain misfiring and making me feel depressed / manic without any other reason than the fact that is the way my brain is working? 

It is important for me to know the answer as that will cause me to treat myself differently,  depending on the reason why I feel the way I do. 

Say,  if it is my brain chemistry making me feel yucky and depressed,  I will try to ignore the tug to stay in bed,  do nothing and hibernate.  I might not be able to accomplish much,  but I still will try to function to the best of my ability and try to be happy with anything I will be able to accomplish that day.

However,  if something triggered my depression,  then I will have to figure out what exactly  the trigger consists of.  Is it a thought I had that made me sad and pulled me down?  Is it a certain smell that brought bad memories to the surface?  Did somebody say something to me that caused me to start thinking negatively about myself?  Is it because I made an assumption based on a situation, a response, or a lack thereof?  Is it some past trauma that is rearing its ugly head? What is IT?  Sometimes I simply don’t know.  But once I know what the IT is,  I have to deal with IT. 

If there is a good reason to feel low / depressed,  I might give myself a break.  For instance,  right now after returning from my 3,5 week trip to Ukraine I have so many impressions to process.  I am in touch with my key people,  but other than that I keep a low profile and take a lot of rest.  Which means I sleep a lot even during the day.  But that is okay.  For now.  But next week I will pick up my active life,  if I feel like it or not.

Why is it so important to find the answer to the question?  Because if I let  my feelings go,  I might end up in a depressive state that will pull me deeper and deeper,  which might happen slowly or very fast.  Or the opposite might happen,  and I end up being (hypo)manic and maybe even paranoid.  Either state can,  once it is full-blown,  last for months and it will take hard work plus usually additional meds to get out of it.  Neither is to be desired.

That is one big reason of why I am in counseling:  to learn how to deal with all those IT’s that fill my life (un)aware.  IT’s can be so sneaky and creep up on you when you are not looking.  Even when I know what IT is playing it’s part,  I still need to work out how to respond.  Which is different depending on the reason behind IT.

You see,  I refuse to be a victim of this so-called ‘illness’.  I AM NOT!  This is the way I was born,  the way I have been made,  and it is okay.  I want to add a BIG note,  though,  that it has taken me quite a while (years) to come to accept the fact that I am labeled as “suffering from Bipolar Disorder”.  I rebel against being labeled “mentally ill”.  I hate the fact that this label causes me trouble being insured for health and for when I die (because of the chances I might end up in hospital and the higher chances of suicide).

I want to scream from the roof top: I AM ONLY DIFFERENT,  I AM NOT ILL, DISABLED  OR DISORDERED!!! 

Yes,  there will be times when I won’t be able to handle my bipolar traits very well.  So what?  Yes,  I need some close people around me to help me deal with the fall out of my bipolar traits.  So what?  Yes,  there will be times I will talk your head off.  So what?  Yes,  there will be times I will hibernate and be invisible.  So what?  Yes,  my brain functions different from yours and apparently I deal differently with emotions.  So what?

I don’t know any better,  for me it is normal,  it’s just the way I am.  SO WHAT?!?

To be continued!!!

Related post: Are you ‘normal’?

Picture courtesy of: The Franklin Institute

7 Comments

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7 responses to “Living with bipolar traits is my normal life. And no, I am not sick or disordered, thank you very much!

  1. I love how you worded this. I can really relate. Personally I like the term “bipolar disorder” because it means to me that things can be rearranged into some order the more I heal and accept my bipolar.

    I like how you talked about dealing with IT. Most of my mood swings are triggers. They are like tripping over something and figuring out how to get back up, instead of waiting to be trampled all over.

    It has taken me many years to be able to accept that this is who I am and this is how I operate. But I love being different and unique in my own way and it sounds like you do to.

    Isn’t it great to learn how to accept yourself for just who you are? Great post Fenny.

    • Fenny

      Wow, thank you!! It’s great that we can relate!!
      I am so glad you love who you are.
      I like your image of tripping over sth and getting back up. I am pretty visual so this speaks to me!
      I was wondering if I would get responses, and what kind… was thinking it might be challenging for some. I hope it is in the good way.
      I can see why you like the term Disorder and I agree with how you approach it. But ‘outsiders’ look at ‘disorder’ differently, I think?

      • I agree. I’m sure the term “disorder” to the outside world, would not sit very pretty and may paint a picture of chaos and crazy. Though I don’t know any term that relates to any mental illness that would describe accureately enough not to conjeur the imagine of being crazy.

      • Fenny

        Unfortunately, you seem to be right about the ‘outside’ world. That is why I like the expression “Bipolar in Order” that Tom Wootton coined. All the same, as long as we are deemed sick and disordered, people will not look further to who we are, outside of the illness. I think that is why I rebel against the label. I know that I function differently, but different doesn’t equal crazy.

  2. Jeff

    The uninsurability part really gets to me as well. That as well as many other things. There are too many negative stigmas associated with “mental illness” and Bi-Polar. Imagine telling a co-worker or a friend you know who just wont understand that being bipolar while difficult is not what it was thought to be many years ago. Yes, like you there are many days of body aches, difficulty getting out of bed and just being flat out depressed. However, on those days I just chill out even if it means taking the day off of work which I really try not to do. Then there is the other side of the spectrum the lack of sleep, the extreme focus on whatever project I decide to create but hey who do you know that’s 100% put together. I feel as if though sometimes this illness after many yrs of learning how to cope and with the proper meds allows me the ability to help the “normal people” deal with shit they can’t handle because they just don’t have the experience to. I’m Bi-Polar, unfortunately not to many people understand me but finally I understand myself and my regained confidence is f’ing priceless. Cheers, -Jeff

    • Fenny

      Jeff – you totally get it!! I am so glad that you have found your own confidence in how to live with it. It trule IS priceless!! And yes, I do see where you are able to help ‘normal’ people, because our experience goes way beyond what they know. I can so relate to what you write – thank you so much for commenting.

  3. Amanda

    Thanks for sharing this post , I found myself asking these same questions, why am I not normal and why do I feel this way and why am I different and so afraid to be labeled, more afraid to accept how I am , for who I am, it’s a lot to take in but I’m learning and seeking help.

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