Would I….?

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.

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Content.

 

For a few days now I have been struggling with what I should write about. There is a lot I could say, and a lot that I want to say, indeed I have started writing about several different topics. But now just didn’t seem like the right time to address the issues I chose, and so I abandoned my work, time and time again. In my experience it is never wise to force creativity and so I waited until inspiration came to find me. And then it did.

Today I want to choose a different path. I don’t want to delve into the darkness today. I don’t want to analyse fragmented memories, I don’t want to open up old wounds. Today I want to talk about the alternative, the light, the sunshine.


Happiness. I think everyone believes in it, strives for it, yearns for it. I know I did. But the funny thing was that the more I wanted to be happy, the less happy I became. Perhaps if you yearn for something, you are admitting to yourself you don’t already possess it.

When I fell into the blackness I would look at other people and wish I had some of their sunshine. I considered them so damn lucky. I would think “maybe if I was prettier, if I had more money, if I owned a house……then I would be happy.” But the grass is generally disappointingly brown on the other side. And maybe those people were looking at me too, wishing for the qualities and the attributes that I possessed yet never appreciated. 

Today I realised that for the first time in at least a decade, I am truly happy. I’m not talking about the energetic, consuming, powerful happiness of mania. I’m not even talking about the intoxicating exuberance that accompanies a love affair, or a personal success. I’m talking about contentment.

Contentment is innocent, it doesn’t want bigger or better. Contentment just is, pure and simple. Six months ago my psychologist asked me what kind of life I wanted. I told her I wanted a simple life, that I didn’t want a huge house or expensive cars and holidays. I just wanted a happy life with my family, appreciating the little things. This week I have played with my little boy, taken the time to bake and cook, been for walks with my boy and my dog. I have dusted off my thesis and started data analysis. I have seen friends and been out, but I’ve also stayed in and read. I feel like I’ve finally achieved a balance, a balance between me and him and us and everyone else. I’ve been crazy enough to have fun, but sane enough to take responsibility.

It took this episode and this hospitalisation for me to finally peel away at the layers that were suffocating me. Finally I am able to recognise what is really important in life. Now I can recognise and discard the things that aren’t important. I find I care less and less about what others think. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that life is too short and too precious to waste.

I know in the future there will be days of grey. Maybe even black. Perhaps multicoloured and overwhelming. But I hope I will be able to reach out for a beam of sunshine and eventually find peace once more. Acceptance. Release. Happiness. Contentment.

 

 

This photo always reminds me of being content. Content and happy 🙂