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Author, advocate, designer, mental health advocate and parent. 

Is there an ‘up’ side to bipolar disorder?

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Is there an ‘up’ side to bipolar disorder?

Apr 2, 2011 | and more, Mental wellness, Op-eds | 0 comments

I know who you are – you’ve just been diagnosed, and you’re thinking that your life is about to end, either metaphorically, or (please don’t do it), literally.

I know who you are, because I’ve been there.  Been there several times.
So, the first thing I want you to do is go grab a soothing cup of *whatever* you love.  You can even have a tiny shot of liqueur in it if it helps, but only a tiny bit.  Don’t drive after, you’ve had bad news anyway, so you shouldn’t be driving.  You’re in shock, and we’re going to fix that.
I’ll wait right here.

You good?  Huggin’ the mug?  I know I was.  For me it was hot, sweet, as strong as I could get it, tea.
Firstly.  Your diagnosis isn’t a death sentence.  It’s not even a commuted death sentence.  Take my word for it when I say that there are some incredibly successful bipolars out there in the world.  Dare I say ‘HI!!!’ now and wave enthusiastically.
Your meds are possibly going to feel like a death sentence for a while – but there is no medical treatment out there that exists that we take that won’t make you feel a bit lousy, at least some of the time.  Unfortunately, the majority of treatments for mental health contain something that makes us dopey.  It might be a receptor inhibitor, it might be a flat-out sedative – whatever it is, go with it for a while.  Be that zombie.  Don’t embrace it because you’ll need to start proactively fighting it soon enough, but it’s perfectly ok to regroup.
Please, remember to drink your comforting drink.  Shock’s a nasty thing.
See, still not dead.
I wanted to tell you something though.  It’s a secret so lean in close.

There is an up side to bipolar disorder – and it’s not the manic phase.  it’s not the fact that we’re treatable and we’re slowly being accepted into society. It’s the fact that….you ready for this….?
This is who YOU are.  Bipolar disorder may not seem like it to many, but it’s possibly part of your personality, and it’s definitively part of the way you see the world – good and bad.  There’s a reason for feeling the way you do, and it’s not that you’re a dick, a douche, or don’t belong. 
More tea ALWAYS makes it better by the way.
Look at it this way – you’ve discovered that you are this *person* living a kind of  lie, trying to remain as ‘normal’ as you can, in a world that doesn’t slow down one iota for people who don’t adjust well.  You could have felt like your world is out of control.  Your world could BE out of control, but it’s not all your fault.  I’m not saying some of it isn’t, but you know, sometimes common sense isn’t what we have when we’re going off the rails.

So – no pity parties – not for long anyway – they have a habit of turning into a national day/week/month of mourning if you’re not careful – and don’t mark today as a negative.  Be kind to yourself, grab another soothing drink – have that cry if you need it, and then – start learning about the ‘new’ you and how to be kind to yourself.
You’ll thank me – and yourself – for it later.

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