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But You Don’t Look Like You Have Bipolar!!!

And You Don’t Act Like It Either!!!

What?!? Really?!?

So I ‘m visiting with my step-sisters after not seeing them for a couple years and it came up that I have ADHD and Bipolar Disorder (I don’t announce it). My 25 year old step-nephew’s head turned and his eyes got big and he said, “But you don’t look like you have bipolar and you don’t act like you have bipolar!” He said it many times during our visit. I’ve heard a lot of things about bipolar, but this was a new one.

Brandon said it many times. I asked “How does a person who has bipolar act? And how are we supposed to look?” He didn’t know. But not like me. I looked and acted “normal.” I did my usual, saying it could be managed with the right medication (for me). A different cocktail for each of us that takes a while to get right, but definitely worth the work. Blah, blah, blah.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has heard this. What are we supposed to look like? How are we supposed to act? We don’t look like we feel. We are pretty good at hiding what’s going on with us. We look pretty much like everyone else.

Now acting like we have bipolar might be a little different. Depends on the day (month or day or week or hour). But it’s not something that another person could label as bipolar. I don’t think. Most days we’re fine. Some days we’re depressed and want to disappear or not get out of bed. Some days it might be going on a really fun shopping spree, or cleaning cleaning and cleaning some more, or getting very agitated or using drugs or alcohol to make us feel normal. But most of the time, we’re fine. We can manage it with sleep, good-for-you food and exercise. And we probably add medication. So we’re fine most of time. And not only that, a lot of people without bipolar act the same way. But “YOU DON”T ACT LIKE YOU HAVE BIPOLAR”!!! Really??? Give me a break!

Yes. I do have bipolar 1 with psychosis. And my aunt next door watched as I went through the part where I would see people that weren’t there. All this took place while we (doctor and I) were trying to get my medication straightened out. And my son had died a few years earlier which triggered my big manic and depressive episodes. My aunt, next door, has never let go of the fact that I am mentally ill and not “normal” like everybody else. It’s very frustrating. I can be mentally healthy by managing it. I can do anything anybody else does. I just have to be vigilant. I have to pay attention to my moods. I know what to do. I know what to look for. As does my support team. Friends, who agreed to help me through any manic or depressive episodes that I may have. My episodes now are manageable because I take my medication. I will take it the rest of my life because I don’t ever want to have a life like I had before I found out I had bipolar disorder. I don’t want to “act” like I have bipolar if I can help it. Ha-ha. However that is. So no one can tell I have bipolar. Either way, my 87 year old aunt thinks I will never be OK again. Very frustrating. I was 55 when I was diagnosed with bipolar. It’s true that I had some pretty bizarre manic episodes during my lifetime. And some deep depression. But I also had a lot of business success my whole life. In two different careers. I wish people would remember that. Instead of the mistakes I’ve made. I made amends for the times I hurt people. So I’m okay there. Yes, I have a mental illness. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a “normal” life. And I do.

Here’s another good one. My daughter also has bipolar. And when my daughter visited from another state, my aunt (same one) later said, “She doesn’t act like there’s anything wrong with her. She doesn’t seem like she has bipolar. She seems fine”. What’s up with that? She IS fine. So am I. So are many, if not most, of our tribe. In fact, most of humanity is just fine.