Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Comment Response

In response to the last post, Emilia had an interesting comment:
on a deeper level, to what extent am I a person with
bipolar, vs. I am bipolar. When I am depressed, I am depressed. When I am manic,
I turn into someone that is quite someone else. And for those times when I am
neither terribly depressed, or off the wall manic, what am I? I don't know. I
know this: I have had this illness for most of the years I have been alive, and
for most of them not properly medicated. I am not the person I would be if I did
not have this illness. I would have been someone else. I can't tell you who,
just different.
I'm pretty sure this is one of those things that we're all going to have a different answer, and I imagine the nature of our illnesses defines it. For me I think it is the question I've been struggling so hard with over the last 3 or 4 months. For me the answer is yes, I am bipolar. Who I am is in constant tumult with my moods. It is a rare, rare thing that I get a time like the last few weeks when I am not in one bad place or another. Rare as in this has occurred to any degree about 4 times in 8 years and never for more than 2 months. Even right now, feeling good, I am not who I would have been without this disease, which affected me for so long and then took over my life. And the person I am has been totally created by this illness, as much as it has been created by my parents, my mentor, my friends.
The major thing for me though is that I am many things beyond bipolar. I am a Christian. I am a friend. I am a therapist. I am gentle and I care. I am mechanical. I am a gardener. I love animals. I am a non-smoker, non-drinker. I am short and overweight. I am not afraid to be silly in public. I use exaggerated body language no matter what my mood state. I have wild hair that defines me. I almost always wear blue scrub pants and a floral shirt. I am a thinker. I am a worrier. I'm a writer. I am many, many things. One of the major ones though is that I have an illness and the illness is bipolar.
If bipolar didn't set so many limits on my life than I think I would feel differently. As it is, bipolar is the master of this house. It tells me when to go to bed, when to wake up. It often demands more sleep than I care to give it/can give it. It takes away laughter/gives inappropriate laughter. The same for tears. It causes immense rage when rage isn't due. It causes frustration that I have learned to cover with humor unless you know my humor.
Interestingly I don't think I would feel this way about one pole alone. It is the constant banging back and forth (or in my case experiencing them together, which is just not way life is meant to be experienced) that means that this illness defines my life so much. (Note: I am not negating severe depression or anything else, just saying that I feel it is the combination of the entire system of bipolar that makes it such a defining factor in my life).
It's one of those things that every case is so different though. I feel like reaching the point where I feel that I have accepted that this is an integral part of me is very good for me, but it goes with the part where I have had to accept that I just have a rotten variety of this thing, that I'm running out of current treatments, and that it is very likely I am going to have to wait for modern medicine to catch up to me. It goes with the part of my life where it has been time lately to define what my abilities and limits are, and to accept that there are limits directly caused by the illness.
This is one of those things my ideas may change very soon on. But for the moment I'm glad to know who I am for a little while. And I think that's what this is really about. So maybe the answer is that it is all a choice?
I'm not sure.

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