Just like everybody else

I have bipolar disorder.  There’s not a single day that passes that is not influenced in some form or fashion by this illness.  My moods change, my energy levels fluctuate, and my behaviors are affected.  Yet in spite of how invasive this condition is, there is so much more.  My life is touched by but not driven by this disease.  It is part of who I am, not all I am.  It would be easy to blame everything that happens on being bipolar, but that’s not the case.  If anything, because I’ve had to adapt so much to be able to maintain my illness that I have better awareness, am better equipped and have more skills to deal with the day to day challenges we all face.  Yes, I am bipolar.  But the truth is I am just a man, a man like any other.

I bring valuable skills to the workplace.  I not only can do a job, I can do that job exceedingly well.  I have succeeded in my career beyond my wildest expectations based solely on my abilities and experience.  True, there are times my illness gets in the way of my job.  But the vast majority of the time I excel at whatever task I’m asked to do.

I am a good friend.  I will be there through thick and thin, through good times and bad.  I will celebrate life events with you and I’ll sit beside you when you’re hurting.  I will come to your parties, and I will bail you out of jail.  I will listen to your problems and offer whatever help I can, even if that help is just being there.  You can count on me.

I am sympathetic and kind.  Whether family, friend, or total strangers I try to always see both sides of everything and accept others regardless of what I might think or believe.  I will hold the door for you, I will pick up something you’ve dropped, and I will get out of your way when you’re in a hurry.  Sometimes in the depths of depression or on a manic high these traits are overridden, but that doesn’t change who I am.

I am capable of having healthy relationships.  My track record hasn’t been the best, but all my failed relationships in the past were before I had the knowledge and understanding of my illness.  I’ve made poor choices and done unhealthy things.  But that doesn’t change the fact that I am a deeply caring, sensitive and supportive person.  The more I learn about this illness the more I understand just how healthy a relationship can and should be.  And the better I’m able to manage my disease the better my ability to be healthy and happy with another.

I am not perfect.  I make mistakes and I do dumb things.  And I am no different from anybody else.  I don’t blame any of the things I’ve done on anything other than being human.  It’s a fact of life; we are all going to screw up eventually.  It’s what you do after the mistakes have been made that matter.  I’ve always tried to take responsibility for my actions and accept the consequences they may bring.  I also try to learn from my mistakes and keep from repeating them.  I don’t always succeed, and I won’t succeed every time.  But I’ll never stop trying.

I have a horrific, life altering disease.  It does impact not only myself but all others around me.   I have created havoc and pain for others, and suffered in my own misery.  But just because I have a brain disorder doesn’t mean I’m a bad person or incapable of good things.  I am a good person, and through it all that remains the same.  Being bipolar doesn’t mean I’m always wrong, or always will do bad things.  I accept responsibility for my actions, but not everything is my fault. I will give others my love and respect and I am worthy of the same.  Everyone makes mistakes, does bad things, causes pain and is just stupid sometimes.  It’s called being human.  I may be a person with bipolar disorder, but through it all, I am just a person.

Just like everybody else.

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