Every day is bipolar day for me. But according to social media today is "World Bipolar Day 2015" so it seems fitting to dedicate a post all about being bipolar.
I'm a relative latecomer to this, only being diagnosed retrospectively following a brush with psychosis. My official diagnosis is something along the lines of "Bipolar affective disorder current episode severe depression with psychotic symptoms". So, at its worst, bipolar robbed me of my sanity and left me psychotic. Treatment took many weeks (months) and some very powerful psychotropic drugs. Getting through that took its toll on everyone around me, but we got there. Now, I live with a milder form of bipolar, the type which brings me periods of moderate to severe depression, followed by periods of slight mania (doctors like to call these "hypomanic episodes"). Most days, you would never know anything was wrong. Social services haven't come to remove my child, and while I'm not economically active at the moment I'm pretty sure if I wanted to hold down a job I could.
Being bipolar has given me a new identity, and placed me in a tribe to which I feel a deep sense of belonging. It has helped me reconcile some of my past behaviour. While I would never use it as an excuse for my recklessness, it certainly helps to explain much of my teens and twenties!
It might just have helped me be that straight-A student (top of my year upon leaving high school and graduating university). I never found studying difficult, and I always had something clever-sounding to say in lessons (and debates, and public speaking events...). I cared a little too passionately for my friends, and always went that extra mile to help them out and to make them smile. Occasionally this landed me in deep trouble! And I hate to think of all the times I could have been caught doing something seriously naughty due to teenage love / friendship.
Now, well into my thirties and a wife and mother, I think my manic periods manifest in different ways. I take on a lot of different responsibilities, always volunteering for this or that, and bake a ridiculous amount of complicated cakes. I play with my son with gleeful abandon and have developed a healthy attitude towards regarding other people's opinions of me. None of this is likely to land me in trouble as such, but I do wonder what would be different without the bipolar.
So, I choose the crippling depression and the long, dark, days. I choose the tears and the anguish. I choose the nothingness and the blank stare. I choose the excruciating trips to the GP. I choose the concerned phonecalls from family. I choose it all - just as long as I get an equal share of joyful, energetic and happy days. An equal share of loving without limits and living without boundaries.