For those that try to deny the influence of bipolar disorder in their lives, they curse the day they learned they had it, which I now find funny because being told you have a disorder does not magically give you the disorder at that moment. However, I somewhat felt the same way about my first psychotic episode until I decided to stop running from my bipolar disorder and face it head on.
When I was diagnosed in 1999, I was so happy to learn I could come out of a psychotic episode and be “normal” again. However, I felt like all I needed was medicine to keep those demons at bay and I was determined not to let them interfere with me graduating from college. I even taught for three years without too many problems, but now I realize that all through my life I never took the time to define my disorder so it did rule and dictate many of my actions and decisions for years. Bipolar disorder is a contributing factor, but I cannot blame it for any of those actions or decisions I made in my life.
Nowadays, I like to try to separate myself from my disorder, not ignore its existence. I visualize it to be like another person, a dual persona if you will. Dual may like to think she’s in charge at times, but I always have some type of control. However, when I am suffering from extreme psychotic mania, the lines become blurred, but that’s another story.
Dual is always present. Sometimes she’s the friend I rely on to give me a backbone. Other times, she’s the party pooper telling me to give up. She influences my moods and energy levels, but I still gauge and allow how much pull she has on my reigns. So, can I blame Dual (bipolar disorder) on my actions? No, I need to take responsibility for myself. Being diagnosed, accepting treatment, and becoming aware of bipolar disorder is so important in having a less difficult life.
Here’s a life scenario of someone I know who has bipolar disorder.
Imagine a little girl about seven years old who watches as her parents go through a very nasty divorce with violence and police at every turn. Her mother is with a strange man, who scares your older sister, but you are too young to understand why yet, but you learn quickly. Your father, at first fights for custody, but after your mother is awarded custody, you never see him. Alcohol, violence, and your mother’s mood swings continue in your new house or apartment or wherever you happen to be living at the time.
You grow up angry and you constantly disobey anyone with authority. You no longer trust anyone. You learn from your mother and siblings how to manipulate to get what you want. You’re told and shown that books are not the means to get ahead in life, besides you never really learned how to read or write well anyway. School was a joke, you were always moved around even in school, and your anger kept you from settling down to even try to concentrate.
At twelve, your parents are now fighting for who wants you not wanting to be the one this time. You lack love and attention from parents and siblings because they have their own problems. Drugs become present from multiple sources. The drugs allow you to lose the anger enough to relax and not care. They even help keep your demons at bay.
At thirteen, sex helps alleviate the pain of being alone for short brief periods because the guys love you right? Still during all this time, you are tossed between mother and father.
At fifteen, your mother and you are diagnosed as bipolar. Now your behavior disorder at school has a name and the medicine allows you to pick up a book, but why bother now? You’re still in the behavioral disruptive courses that never go anywhere.
At eighteen, you’re homeless and your mother passes away because of liver failure. You refuse to go to your father because you know he and his girlfriend don’t want you. You can’t afford medicine and you don’t care because they never seemed to work well when you were on them.
Then someone you think is your knight and shining armor gets you off the streets, but after a while he starts to beat you when you’re pregnant. You love him, but his drinking makes him that way and he’s your baby’s father. He’s not working because of the economy, and you can’t work because you have no education or practical skills. You’ve never had a job because your mother taught you to live in the parameters of the welfare system as you were growing up. You again have no choice to rely on the system because no one will help you and you’re soon to have two babies to depend on you.
If this really was your life, who or what would you blame? However, that is the problem. There is so much blame in her life and inability to trust those that do help that she is still left with an abusive boyfriend and two little children. I wish I could help her more than I have already tried to these many years, but she bites the hand that feeds. I wish she can get better help because she and her children will just start the vicious cycle all over again.