Has anyone ever said that to you? Well, I sure have. And my response?
Yep, and I've got a piece of paper to prove it! Imagine that. I've got a legitimate excuse to behave the way I do. That's right. I went to the doctor and an hour later walked out with bipolar disorder. Talk about a blow to the head. Just freaking great. What in the hell do I do now?
I want to set something straight right away. There's a big difference between 'being' something and 'having' something. Who you are is not what you have. Let me say that again - YOU ARE NOT YOUR DISORDER!
But let's face it, there's a big, yes huge, stigmatism that comes along with this diagnosis. People label things they do not understand or are afraid of. Every time someone in Hollywood does something stupid, the first thing people do to explain, or rationalize, their behavior is to say they must be bipolar. This really pisses me off. It's a load of crap. Get it right people! Everyone does stupid things. Quit blaming your ignorance on my disease!
I, too, did not understand at first. But as is my nature, I sure was going to figure this thing out. I started by educating myself. Learning the facts and not buying into the myths, the first of which was realizing being bipolar has really nothing to do with being crazy at all. Although it's classified as a mental illness, bipolar disorder, which is the exact same thing as manic-depression, is a series of highs and lows. It's an emotional thing. In simple terms, it's a roller coaster of feeling huge amounts of energy, euphoria and happiness (the 'manic'), to the complete opposite, the feeling of extreme physical fatigue and very sad to the point that it's literally debilitating (the 'depression'). Yet it's anything but simple. The hallmark of manic-depression is instability. Gee, unstable. Thanks but no thanks.
Emotions cannot be cured, but they can be managed. That's right. YOU are the manager. YOU are the one in control of the levers, the emotions. It is imperative to your health that you gain this control. And the sooner you start believing and doing this, the better off you will be and the easier your life will become. You will be able to start and stop the roller coaster, keep it from going out of control and tap into it's creativity. And I'm not saying this is just going to magically happen overnight. Believe me, it doesn't. It's an ongoing process. Every single day is a challenge. People may laugh, but it might be something as simple as getting dressed for the day. Most people will never understand what you go through because they don't 'live' it. But I do. And I know it's anything but easy.
But have faith and know there is hope. You can turn your curse into a blessing. When I was first diagnosed 13 years ago, I wanted to crawl into a whole and die. I didn't know what I was going to do. Sometimes I still don't. But what I know now is that I wouldn't trade it or who I am for the world. You see, I have discovered the flip side of my disease - along with the challenges and really bad stuff comes a whole lot of abilities, gifts and great stuff. That's right, amazing things no one else can do. Bet you didn't know that. So smile and embrace your crazy. It belongs only to you.