It’s very easy to feel sorry for myself. Why have I been cursed with such a horrible disease? Why do I feel bad so much of the time? Why is there so much pain and suffering? My illness not only affects myself, but those around me. How is that fair? Why me…
In my history I’ve only had a little time where I’ve been stable. I’m either lost in a depression or over the top in a manic episode. In fact, about the only time I’m not dealing with one aspect or another of my illness is just in between going up or going down. There’s just very little relief.
Depressions are bad. As you descend into the darkness you know what’s coming. I’ve always heard that most suicides occur as a depression begins, not in when you’re in the bottom of the pit. It’s the anticipation of the misery that brings the hopelessness; you just can’t go through this again. I understand that. It’s bad enough that depression brings despair and destroys hope, but knowing that it’s caused by an incurable disease just makes it worse. You know that even if you make it through this episode, there will be another. Why shouldn’t I feel bad for myself; it’s never going to end.
Mania brings a different kind of suffering. My manic episodes are not the euphoric, fun highs. I get angry. The energy I have is overwhelming; I physically feel like I’m going to explode. The rage is all consuming. Nobody understands how smart I am, I’m unappreciated at work, and I’m surrounded by idiots that just get in my way. Several years ago I got really sick during a particularly bad mania. It got so bad I ended up in the hospital in the Cardiac Care Unit as my heart was just about to stop. I was originally diagnosed as having had a heat stroke, but what made me so sick was an overdose of adrenalin brought on by my mania. All that rage and energy produced more adrenalin than my body could handle and it just started to shut down. My symptoms became physical. And then there’s the aftermath of an episode. Jobs are lost, finances can be in ruin, relationships are destroyed and people are hurt. There can even be legal ramifications that can take years to resolve. For me the suffering I experience in my mania is just as bad as a depression, only I don’t realize that I’m being irrational until after it’s over.
And then the depression starts again in a never ending cycle. It’s just not fair.
I believe that Bipolar disorder is the worst kind of mental illness there is. Sure, there are illnesses like schizophrenia that are clinically worse. But with the more severe illnesses there is a lack of awareness and break with reality that can keep take away the realization that there’s anything wrong. Being bipolar you know that you’re sick, it’s beyond your control and it’s never going to end. Why do I have to deal with this?
Why shouldn’t I feel sorry for myself?
But the fact is, I don’t. I understand that it’s an illness and not a weakness or anything that’s been deliberately done to me. It may seem unfair, but it’s just the cards I’ve been dealt. The pain of depression is as real as any physical disease. The effects of mania are tangible and agonizing. But my energy is needed to fight for survival and cannot be squandered feeling that life is so unfair. In life there is nothing we have to face that exceeds our ability to cope. Don’t feel sorry for me. Give me your support. Give me your compassion. Even if you can’t understand what I’m going through, understand that I’m going through it. I need empathy, not pity. I refuse to feel sorry for myself and refuse to accept that from of others.
I am not a victim, I am a survivor.