One of the hardest thing I face with Bipolar Disorder is losing who I am.
I believe myself to be a happy, optimistic person. Yet Depression strips that away from me, leaving me wonder who is this person who cannot see joy in the world anymore?
I’d like to think I am a good girlfriend. Yet the way I become so needy in my strife fills me with shame.
And up until very recently I identified as someone who was gentle, and passive. My peers humorously compared me to Ghandi, as I lived by his peaceful philosophies. Does a peaceful person get aggressive impulses, lashing out violently against whatever is closest to them, causing significant damage to their laptop?
Alas, as I write this post on my mother’s laptop, I am afraid I can no longer pride myself on my gentle, patient nature.
During every episode I play the part of a different person. In my Depression my core values of optimism and kindness are disconnected from me. In my Mania I strive to reinvent myself.
Typically I never watch crime dramas as I am a pathetically sensitive soul and cannot stomach the violence, yet with only the mild symptoms of a mixed episode twirling within the potion that is me, I am enjoying Criminal Minds each night and begging my little brother to watch Seven with me.
And the previously Disney-loving version of my soul is singing this…
And I have found this to be true, from the times of stability when logic says I should be myself, through the periods of mild but noticeable symptoms I am experiencing now, to the lonely feelings deep in an episode. I feel like I have lost myself.
Why do I feel this way?
If you look at any resource on how to be happy with your life, it will invariably tell you that in your everyday life you should be working towards your goals in life. Yet in my experience, having Bipolar has torn me further away from them despite what are truly my best efforts.
Truthfully, the last time I felt consistently true to myself was in Primary School.
So maybe it’s time to rewrite my definition of myself?
The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone feeling the same things that I am is this: comparison will be your worst enemy.
When I feel bad about my lot in life I like to envision myself flying, soaring through the air. Not because I dream of freedom, although that is true too. But because I can think about it without feeling bad about myself for lacking wings.
When you see a bird fly, you do not become upset with the mediocrity of your own life. Because you know that you do not have the right body for it. It becomes silly to be so invested in something impossible.
It’s easy to compare yourself with people who do not face these troubles. But your genetics makes wishing for that kind of normalcy as unrealistic as flying.
That may sound disheartening, but to me I find it calming. To know that this is my body, this is my mind, and only I can define what is normal for me. Only I can define who I am.
I may never be able to say quite simply that I am optimistic, or I am patient, as much as I wish I could. But I can say I will always try to be those things.
And you know what Bipolar will never take from me?
I can always say I’m interesting. 🙂