Weíre All Different
It was brought to my attention a few weeks ago that someone had responded to one of my other articles in which he called me a phony, fake, and a few assorted other terms that I refuse to honor him by printing. All of this was because of his reaction to the fact I am and have been pursuing higher education and receiving disability. According to this reader, apparently all those who have this monstrous disorder arenít capable of sustaining a halfway ďnormalĒ daily life.
There are many degrees of this disorder besides just I and II. There can be coexisting co-morbidity disorders or other somatic illnesses to add to the mix. In my case, Bipolar Disorder and recently diagnosed COPD are the only things I battle. And notice, I said battle. Just because I am able (generally on most days) to accomplish studying and learning, work part-time at a no-brainer job, does not in any way shape or form imply that I too, have not had and DO not have my struggles just like everyone else with this disorder.
I happen to have been born with an extremely strong will. Iíve chosen to take responsibility for my illnesses instead of allowing them to take control of my life. It has not been easy, it is not easy, it will never be easy. I live my life one day or hour at a time just as everyone else. Iíve lost jobs because of my illness or my behavior due to my illness. One job I lost simply because I HAVE an illness. We simply cannot fall prey to the illness and allow it to be our excuse for all the wrongs and ills in our lives. Sure, the disorder is the cause of many issues, but not all of them. We know when we arenít feeling right. Instead of whining about it, get on the phone to your psychiatrist and talk to them . . . perhaps a med adjustment is in order. Or maybe youíve been playing doctor without a degree and self-medicating and adjusting your meds on your own . . . never a wise decision.
Being more manic than depressive, does not mean that I have not experienced ten months or more of the constant deep depression throughout my life. It does not mean that there have not been days, months, weeks where I could not force myself out of bed or off the sofa or even out the door. Or to attend to personal hygiene or even eat. But I reached down and willed myself to take steps to help my brain get out of that pit. Too many use their disabilities as an excuse. Fine, if thatís the way you want to be then you should just hush and be miserable. I for one prefer to be high functioning and as difficult as it can be at times, I literally force myself to get out there and put on that mask of normalcy. Obviously, I will never be able to hand a high stressor full-time job as a nuclear physicist or rocket scientist but that does not mean I have to submit completely and just ďbe.Ē
Actually, three days seem to be my maximum allotment of being ďnormal.Ē By the third day Iím all but smacking myself in the head and mouth to keep from flying off in some sort of manic tornado or worse, dive into a deep depression. But in my defense, right now Iím going through other issues besides my own illnesses. Iím watching my dear mother dying very slowly from a terminal disease. I have to contend with my emotions on that without completely going off the deep end. Then I learn that Iím more than likely to suffer the same fate as she is suffering as we speak. That in and of itself is enough to send anyone triggering to God only knows what or where. Iíve lost loved ones recently, and Iíve had plenty of traumatic occurrences in my life during the past year. But I refuse to give in to that voice that arises and whispers to me in the night to just end it and get the hell out of life to escape the pain. Having Bipolar Disorder does NOT mean you are any less intelligent than anyone else. It does mean however you have to work harder to do things that comes easily for those ďnormals.Ē And I use normal as a relative term, we all know there is no such thing.
I do understand and comprehend there are many out there in worse shape than I and if I had in my power, I would cure you all. But the bottom line is, we are not all alike. We still share similar symptoms. How you live and where you live will affect how you deal with your illness. If youíre struggling financially, that is enough to make you want just run away forever. Life is not easy, money or not. The more money you have, the more stress you have. The sicker you are, the more stress you have. And we all know that we Bipolars do not deal with stress very well.
What helps and works for me probably wouldnít work for anyone else. We all have to find our own path to gaining control. And yes, I still lose control from time to time and it irritates the hell out of me. But it doesnít stick around as long as it used to because mentally, I simply wonít allow it. There are days when I get semi-agoraphobic and donít want to go outside or think I cannot. But I only allow myself that for one day. No matter how hard it is, I force myself to go out. Even if it is to just walk the dog, or drive around the block. There are days when Iím so full of anger that I want to shoot everyone I see, or at the very least, shoot at them with my verbal sharp Yankee tongue. But I donít. I will take myself out of the situation and go of and talk myself . . . yes you heard me right, I will talk to myself until I have regained my control.
Then there are those unexpected events that will trigger a plethora of rapid cycling and mixed episodes and well, hell. A coworker brought in a small kitten one day, eyes not even opened, its mother had abandoned it. Being the animal nut that I am, I took it upon myself to tend to it. I decided to have everyone leave it alone and snuggled it up in its box and went to do some work. Within 30 minutes, I was called up front . . . the kitten had died. And my strong, good-natured composure died right along with it. I completely fell apart. And I was a wreck mentally for at least two weeks afterwards. I even brought it home to bury. Until that kittenís death, I had been on a very controlled ďgood streakĒ for about four weeks. Since then, itís been a hit or miss kind of life. Just like my mom, I have good days and bad days.
Yes there are times when I either think about ďoffingĒ myself, or checking into the local psych ward . . . but I donít. Silly as it may seem, my lifesavers are my three pets. What would happen to them if I died? When you get so low in that black pit that you can no longer see any glimpses of light, you have to reach out and grab hold of something or someone and pull yourself back up. I donít care if itís your favorite chair . . . just something that you are passionate about. In my case, itís my creatures . . . for some itís their children or other family members. If I were to kill myself while in one of those black holes from hell, just imagine what it would do to my terminally ill mother. We get selfish when we get depressed, we fall into our safe pity traps and expect the world to owe us.
The world owes us nothing. The time to be selfish is when youíre trying to gain control over the damn disorder Ė not when giving into it. Sure, I know what youíre thinking, ďwell itís not that easy.Ē Who in the hell said it would ever be easy??? I certainly never did. And it seems to be getting easier and harder for me each year. My good days last longer, but my bad moments hit harder. And yes, sometimes it seems as though all I do is struggle, struggle, struggle to keep it together. Other times, it seems almost too easy to do.
What Iím trying to say to that particular reader and any others who share his close-minded perception of someone he doesnít even know . . . just because the wrapping paper doesnít have any noticeable tears on it, doesnít mean the contents inside the package arenít torn and scarred.
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