What is it like? I was asked…
The snicker doodle in me wanted to say “what are you talking about?” but I knew what they meant. It was THAT question.
Out of love, and probably some curiosity, I have been asked numerous times what it’s like to have Bipolar. Frankly, people just don’t get it (at times I question if I even know what it’s like, due to it’s ever changing nature). How it is portrayed on the big screen and novels, only perpetuates the stigma (a stigma that I believe depicts the extremes of the disorder).
So how do I explain it? What IS it like to go through a manic phase? Most people know what depression is, or they think they do, but they really only know the surface, and like I mentioned above the stigma that has been created due to the entertainment industry applies to depression as well.
As with a number of other things, Bipolar looks different for each person, in my opinion. Much like people are different heights, sizes, and have different eye color, they all have some things in common (like eyes and a nose, for the most part) but there are numerous differences.
I have gotten over the reason why people are asking. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I have ever asked why they wanted to know. Probably a mix between I don’t want to know and I really don’t care. I know that when I explain it they still aren’t going to understand it anyway.
As I am going through a rapid cycle currently, what it feels like is very fresh in my mind. The feelings, the thoughts, the physical changes to my body, it’s all there right at the surface. I find myself to be a pretty articulate person, so I think I do a pretty good job explaining the disorder, but it always seems like after sharing, the person has that blank look on their face.
When asked, I start off by saying that it is not understandable in my opinion. And I usually get that “huh” face. I continue to say that it is very hard to explain and even more challenging to understand. I express that I am not insulting that person’s intelligence, but I am just sharing what I have found and feel in my own life.
So, I go through mania and depression. It seems like mania appears to be the one of the most interest. Buckets of energy, productivity, sign me up they say. No one seems to want the depression side, except for the people who really like to sleep. I keep it simple. No sense in going into deep details because I’d lose my audience’s attention.
It sucks, that’s how I end it. Never ceasing to amaze me comes to mind as it seems to be forever changing. Gotta keep me on my toes I suppose.
Most days, like 90% of the time, I can keep any and all emotion out of the conversation. I usually don’t share that I am scared, that it is overwhelming to know that this is part of my life. That there are symptoms that I have that I only selectively talk about. That there were days when things appeared to be more simple, less filled with fear and anxiety. I miss those days.
A thing I do share is that this is part of me. I point out my paintings and share that they are a byproduct of this disorder. Those three tear cakes that were not only beautiful but delicious, mania ladies and gents.
I talk about Bipolar because I don’t want it to be taboo. I don’t talk about all of it, but I will answer questions and I will be honest. If we ever pass on the street and my “I’m Bipolar” light that hovers over my head is lit, feel free to ask me what it’s like. Keep in mind that the conversation will be brief, but painstakingly honest.