Well, here I am. Back where I started. That’s not to say I haven’t made some progress, but there are mistakes I can’t seem to stop making and behaviors I’ve been unable to control. I really don’t think I ask for much, just a simple life where I get to do the things I enjoy and be with people who are important to me. I just want a life that has purpose and meaning.
You wouldn’t think it would be so hard.
I’m a good man. I deeply care about others and give myself freely. Profound insight allows me to be understanding and sensitive. I know myself all too well, but that makes it that much easier to know others. Honesty and openness gives me patience and empathy. I will listen to what is said, I will consider other points of view and whether I agree or not, I’ll accept other feelings and opinions as valid. I am respectful and kind. My sympathy and support can always be counted on. I will forgive and forget. I have value and am worthy of friendship and love.
But I am bipolar.
I know, I shouldn’t let my illness define who I am. But the truth of the matter is, it does. All of the good qualities that I have can be destroyed in an instant. Because of who I am I can become very needy and emotionally dependent. The feelings I have can be too intense and even the most tolerant can be completely overwhelmed. My intelligence is unquestionably above average; yet I have the uncanny ability to do incredibly stupid things. I have caused much pain and repeatedly hurt the ones I love most. My thinking is twisted, and perceptions aren’t always based on reality. Just a glimpse into my tortured mind is frightening, and drives away even the most understanding people. Depression leaves me isolated and alone; pushing those who care away. Mania can be terrifying.
It’s who I really am.
But I’m functional. It could easily be different, but the nature of my illness allows me to carry on some semblance of a normal life. To outsiders looking in, it doesn’t look that bad. I go to work every day. I interact with coworkers and perform my job with skill and success. I get through each day and carry on to the next. Although I don’t have many friends, those that I do are real and true. I do bring happiness to others and enrich their lives.
It could be so much worse.
But it is worse. There is a façade that I hide behind that keeps the deepest secretes locked away. I think only my therapist has been the one who has any idea what’s inside. I do try to open up to her the best I can in the hopes that it will get better. There really isn’t much she doesn’t know, and she probably knows more than I realize. But aside from her, no one else really understands.
I am a sick man.
Yet, I continue on. For the most part I remain optimistic and positive. I go about my day normally, taking care of myself and enjoying what I can. I don’t dwell on being bipolar and most of the time I don’t even think about it. It’s only when I allow myself to reflect and examine my behaviors and conditions am I even aware of it. When I’m in therapy is one of those times. I’ll think about it after something happens and I try to understand the how and why.
And when I write.
I usually do my writing first thing in the morning. As I start my day, it gives me a way to check my current state of mind and a focus on what I have to overcome at the moment. It’s a release of sorts and gives me a chance to let go for a little while. My life is shaped by my disease, but it’s not consumed by it. I do my job the best I can. I put the effort into my relationships; either giving my all to the one I’m in, being okay with the time alone, or searching out new connections. I enjoy the simple pleasures and cherish the time with friends and family. I’m constantly looking for positives and even when I am mindful of my behaviors and actions, it’s because I’m trying to be a better person, not that I’m thinking about being bipolar.
I am not depressed. Nor do I feel like I’m going into a depression. Mania isn’t a problem for me at the moment. It’s times when I’m most stable and lucid that I can honestly and fairly evaluate myself. I can look reality straight in the eye and accept who I am. It’s not pretty, I don’t ever expect to change the underlying factors involved and I know this is something I’ll be dealing with the rest of my life. Recent events have pointed out again that my illness is bigger than my efforts to control it. It’s times like this that I really realize just how sick I am. My only hope is that the longer I fight, the better I’ll be at keeping it maintained. What choice do I have? It’s the only life I have. I just need to make the most of it.
This week I’ve had some setbacks and losses. I’ve been overwhelmed and made bad decisions as a result. I’ve over indulged in bad behaviors and excesses. I’m back where I started.
I’m at the beginning again. Maybe this time I’ll do better.