My goal with my writing on bipolar disorder is to be informative and brutally honest. I firmly believe that the more information is out in the public, the easier it will be for people to live with mental illness. That bit about the honesty, though, sometimes I am not good at the brutal part. I tend to hide behind the facts. A good journal citation covers a lot of insecurity and emotion, but sometimes that’s just not healthy.
I’ve been having a hard time lately. I started seeing a new psychiatrist who shifted my diagnosis from bipolar II to bipolar I and gave me a new medication regimen. So, I’m also adjusting to new meds. Add to that a gastric disorder that comes and goes without warning and likes to stick around for several months at a time. It makes me feel like the day after a horrible stomach flu when you have zero energy, lots of nausea and some occasional pain that I would compare to labor pains except that I’ve never had labor pains and I’m not an idiot.
I take all of this and try to maintain a normal life. I work full time in addition to writing. I’m part of a roller derby league (though on leave for medical reasons, which does not help my mental state). I’ve got a great husband, a family and dog that I do my best to maintain relationships with and support. I absolutely admit that I am not always good at this. Occasionally I have to give in and let something drop. I hit that point today. I had just given up on writing for the night. The content was too much for the zombie that is currently my brain. Poetic, right? So I wandered over to Twitter.
There I found a tweet from Wil Wheaton. Not only am I a fan from a nerd point of view, I admire his openness about his struggle with depression. He’s inspired me more than once. His tweet led me to his latest blog post. Now, it is rife with nerd-speak, but even if you don’t follow that part, the context is absolutely relatable. You need to read it.
I know. I cried too.
Reading his words reminded me that information does not have to be exclusively cerebral. Emotional intelligence is crucial, especially when dealing with bipolar disorder. We’re vulnerable. We’re easily tripped and there are times when we cannot keep up with the normals.
It takes a great deal to accept that. I haven’t fully done so yet. I’m working on it.
Hearing (or reading) someone else say the things that you feel has a kind of bizarre power. When you’re ensconced in depression or dysphoria, one thing you absolutely feel is isolated. That isolation is a big factor in what keeps me down. I want to hide myself from everyone because they don’t deserve to have to put up with the mess that is me. I need to wait it out until I can act like a real person again.
But I am a real person. So is Wil. So is everyone that puts up with the blasted roller coaster that is mental illness. We are a community. Only 1-2% of us may have bipolar disorder, but there are 7 billion people in this world. That’s 140,000,000 people that feel the same things we do. To put that into perspective, that’s five times the population of Texas and more than half the population of the U.S.
It’s easier to be strong when you’re not alone. You can accept yourself as you are. When you just let yourself be, it’s easier to deal with all of the rest of it.
So thanks to Wil for helping me remember that. You just really, really made me feel better about myself.
You can find me on Twitter @LaRaeRLaBouff