Over the years dealing with being bipolar I’ve often felt isolated an alone. I’ve felt like it’s impossible for others to truly understand what it’s like to live with such a devastating disease. Even others who are also bipolar are unique in their own illness. No two people have exactly the same feelings and symptoms, and the skills and treatment plans all have different levels of success and work differently for each individual.
It is understandable why it’s so difficult for others to ‘get it’. This illness can be absolutely impossible to comprehend. How can you possibly explain what’s going on in your head during a manic episode when you can’t even explain it to yourself. Who can truly feel what it’s like in your own depressions. Sure, many people experience some level or another of depression or extreme sadness over the course of a lifetime, but no one feels exactly how you do.
Nobody can possibly understand.
But does it matter? I’ve found great comfort just in knowing that there others who just want to help. They might not appreciate what your life is like, but they can recognize that your life is hard. They can accept the fact that your behaviors and feelings are driven by a physical disease even if they don’t know how it feels. They can be sympathetic that you struggle even if they cannot empathize. This support may not come from friends or even family. You may feel like the doctors and therapists are just doing a job and not invested in your well being. It can be very frustrating that it seems like it’s impossible to explain how you feel. But In every case I’ve ever known, there’s always been someone, somewhere, that can be counted on. It may be from those closest to you, or just some random individual. But there’s always someone.
I’ve also found that others who also deal with being bipolar can offer a great deal of support. They may not have your own levels of feelings or know how you react to your given situation, but they have dealt with similar issues. They may not feel the same depressions or their mania may come with different features, but they can understand how this disease impacts every aspect of your life. There are many shared experiences even if there are different outcomes. I’ve found a lot of compassion when attending bipolar support groups. I’ve been able to share my feelings and gain insight from interacting with others online. I’ve had wonderful therapists and doctors. And I’ve felt like my own insight and experiences have been able to help others who are going through the same issues.
It’s not always evident that there are people out there who can help deal with our illness. When you are firmly in the grip of an extreme high or low it might seem like you are completely isolated. You can feel like there’s no one who can possibly understand. Now that I’m having some success in my own treatment I can see that I’ve never really been alone. Sure, nobody understands the illness as I have it, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be there for me. The trick is seeing past what appears as a lack of understanding, and embracing the compassion and acceptance that is there for what it is.
Because there will always be someone who understands after all.