Why. I’ll bet I ask myself that question a dozen times or more a week. Why is it so hard to get through a day? Why does the littlest thing get me so upset? Why can’t I be more tolerant of others? Why can’t I control my emotions any better than I do?
Why am I bipolar?
One question really leads to the next. The root cause of most of my questions comes with the last one. Why am I bipolar? What did I do to deserve this? It’s not anything I can blame on my upbringing, or environment. It’s not because my parents smoked or abused alcohol or drugs. OK, maybe it’s genetic, but why did my ancestors have to have this disease? What went wrong?
It’s just not fair.
Living with bipolar disorder does make life hard. We do struggle each and every day. It doesn’t take but one critical email, or a harsh word, or even a disparaging look to devastate us. The anger can be overwhelming to the point of self harm or a homicidal rage. The depressions can rob us of our very souls. We do not suffer fools lightly. Why should anyone have to endure such agony?
Is it karma? Is there a cosmic need to balance out the normality of life? Much like earlier comments about appreciating nice days; are we here just so the non-inflicted can appreciate what they are? Or appreciate what they are not? (See Mood Du Jour, posted 8/6/12)
Is it a punishment? Even though the disease is believed to be genetic, the genetics are only a predisposition. Not everyone who comes from a bipolar family will suffer the same fate. Are we being punished for our own sins, or as a punishment for the sins of others? Or do we have this illness as a punishment of things to come? Maybe what we are really predisposed for is sins of the future, and we are knocked down to keep us from greater sin.
Do the other aspects of this illness bring knowledge and creativity to the world? Along with the agony and suffering of bipolar often brings heightened intelligence and creativity. When you look at the list of famous people purported to be bipolar; Vincent Van Gogh, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe and many more, they all left a positive mark on the entire world. But are these the exceptions? How many of us can expect to have such an impact on so many?
Maybe it’s just totally random: The luck of the draw; the throw of the dice. Maybe it is just something that happens for no rhyme or reason. Just being ‘lucky’ enough to be born into a family that passes on the genes or whatever it is that causes this illness. Why does lightening strike one person and miss the other? Why is one sibling sick and the other one not? What makes us different from everyone else?
Are we guinea pigs? Each generation has seen the development of new drugs finding better ways to treat this illness. As those before us helped create the medications that improve our lives, maybe as science learns from us we can help the development of the next round. Or perhaps other knowledge gained through this research can create breakthroughs for others. Who knows; ultimately we may be part of a greater cure for bipolar or even cancer or any one of the debilitating illnesses.
Maybe we’re here as an inspiration to others. From some small victory over ourselves to a random act of kindness not even related to our disease, to acts of outright heroism; maybe we have a greater purpose. Sufferers of other afflictions may draw strength from how we deal with our own. Even ‘normal’ people can be motivated by our triumphs, however large or small.
I think it’s a combination of all of the above. There is randomness in the grand plan that has caused each of us to have to deal with everything that comes from this disease. Some of us will be great leaders. Others will be inspirations. Others will suffer in quiet dignity never knowing whose lives they have touched. Even our failures may touch others in a positive way or serve as a warning and prevent even greater failures.
Regardless of what you believe, whatever the reasons behind it, I think that we all have a purpose, and have the inner strength for as much as we’re supposed to endure. According to First Corinthians, 10:13 “No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” (New American Bible). It frequently doesn’t feel that way, and many days its difficult to find any comfort at all. And then there are the times when the misery becomes too great and the struggle too difficult to bear. But I believe that good or bad, easy or hard, obvious or obscure; everything happens for a reason. Everyone has a purpose.
And someday, I’ll know why.