The Freedom to be Ill

In reply to The WordPress Daily Prompt – Jan.2, 2015

Be the Change:

What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world?


While I certainly don’t think this little blog will change the world, I guess my biggest hope is that it will help myself and other sufferers of bipolar to realize that it’s okay to be honest about our illness, the changes it brings, and the emotions it chokes us with.  I’ve discovered that as soon as I try to be the person that I’ll never be again, or suppress the very real (though chemically imbalanced) emotions that bipolar causes to emerge – it is never something that can be maintained for long, because it isn’t truth.

I will never again be the person I was before bipolar got it’s hands on me.  I mourn for that person.  I mourn for the potential that was stolen by this illness – especially the potential wife, mother, and friend that I once was so well at being.  But wishful thinking will never bring her back again.  If I were to listen to some family members when they tell me: “Thinking that way only makes it worse.  Don’t say that about yourself.  You’ll get back there again, blah blah blah”, I would live in a perpetual state of unreality and disappointment, even greater than I live now.  No – I have been forced to accept the fact that the old me is gone, as this illness continues to grow more and more chronic with each passing year.  While I’m sure mind-trickery and the power of positive thinking may work on a good day, the bad days always come back around to knock that illusion to its knees.

Along with accepting the confusing and painful changes in identity that come with bipolar, we also need to acknowledge the irrationality and brilliance that comes with the territory.  While I’m not condoning mindlessly spewing our vitriolic thoughts on anything that breathes, I know for a fact that if we try to live like those thoughts and emotions somehow don’t exist – shoving them further and further into the mold of sanity that we wish they were – they do not magically become sane.  The only thing those distorted emotions do is multiply, before festering and rotting, until we can contain them no more.  I’ve discovered the importance of having a safe place to share the ever-changing illogical thoughts that are forced on us, as well as our random strokes of genius.

I have grown allergic to the sugar-coated layer that some people feel more comfortable covering this illness with, in the hopes of making it more palatable to look at.  This disorder has made a strange metamorphosis in recent years, to where now – even though the blame is still put on its owner –  it’s become an almost fashionable illness to have. This brings with it the potential of further stigmatizing the actual sufferers, since its sheer popularity has watered down the fact that it is a serious, debilitating brain disease.  I’m here to say that, although I love my mind and the creative and unique and sometimes brilliant ways it thinks, I hate the illness that makes it so intriguing.  I hate the lonely isolation I feel forced to be in, as I try to protect both myself and others from me.  I hate that it has stolen the friends that I once helped through their own unbearable tragedies – help that I now so desperately need myself, but refuse to allow into my life.  I hate the sleepless nights filled with uncontrollable visions of how my loved ones will die a gruesome death, no matter how much my logical reason tries to convince me otherwise.  I hate the constantly evolving fixations that have shamefully caused my family to go into unrecoverable debt.  I hate the jealous envy I see in the eyes of others, over the few talents that make this illness bearable.  I feel blessed to have the mind that I do, and yet it has betrayed me.  The security of my inner sanctum has now become my reason to flee.

My hope is that by looking bipolar in the face, and recording both its distortions and its beauty, I will help others to see it for what it really is – not the romanticized view that some have been fooled by.  By telling my story as honestly as I know how, I hope to give fellow sufferers the freedom to be ill.  Because we have earned that freedom.


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