Sometimes I wonder, if I could, would I take away my bipolar disorder.
Would it be easier, would I be happier without that roller coaster ride, that inevitable and uncontrollable swing from elation to depression and back again.
Would I want that?
I suspect life would be more stable. I wouldn’t need to be on the cocktail of medications I am currently depending on. Some things would be easier, I’m sure.
But would I miss out?
While I would never glorify the illness, I do feel I have learned a great deal from my experiences. Aside from the crash course in clinical psychiatry and psychopathology, but I have also learned about human emotions and vulnerabilities. Becoming hospitalised allowed me to witness other people at their lowest, or highest points. To be on their side. A normal kind of crazy.
I believe there is still great stigma attached to mental disorders. While I will go into my feelings about this another time, All I can say that I feel very strongly that mental illness should be treated as equal to physical illness.
I feel I understand the mental pain of another, and empathize. If I hadn’t have experienced those highs and lows would I be able to truly understand someone at their most vulnerable state? I feel my experiences have supplied me with an empathy I may not otherwise have.
Would I be the same person without bipolar?
Would I experience the same drive and creativity without this experience. My best work, musical, artistic and written has generally been during mania or depression. Is this due to the disorder, or due to my inherent personality? Or both?
There is a documented link between bipolar disorder and creativity. Nina Simone, Stephen Fry, Ernest Hemmingway, Virginia Woolf, Mel Gibson, Frank Sinatra, Catherine Zeta Jones, Kurt Cobain and Winston Churchill. All of these people have bipolar disorder.
I’m not sure I can answer the question, as bipolar is such a strong part of me. My highs and lows and yes, even my psychoses have become an everyday part of life. It’s something I deal with, and something I can’t easily separate from.
But after all these years of self hatred I can say one thing. I am happy with the person I am. And bipolar or not, that’s the way I want to be.