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Bipolar Is Unfair

When most of us were young we learned that life isn’t fair. Yes, that boy got a bigger slice of cake than you. Yes, that girl gets better grades than you even though she doesn’t study. Yes, that’s boy’s imaginary friend’s clothes are nicer than yours. Life isn’t fair.

But when I was diagnosed with bipolar at 20, my definition of “unfair” had to be reviewed.

Disease Isn’t Fair

It is true that no disease is fair. No person asks to get a disease and diseases are, by their very nature, random. It’s never fair to get diabetes or cancer or the flu. It’s random and you have to deal with it.

Are Some Things Less Fair Than Others?

In point of fact, lots of nasty things have happened to me. Most of them have been pretty unfair. But I can step forward from these things in my life because they are things, discrete experiences, they don’t have to affect me every day. You get therapy, you burn a scarecrow in effigy, you move on.

But I never move on from bipolar. It isn’t a thing. It’s everything. It’s sleep schedules and med schedules and bipolar symptoms and medication side-effects and moods and therapy and doctors and control every day of my life. There’s never a break. Not for a moment. I’m bipolar now. A minute from now. A day from now. A year from now. Always sick.

scaleIs it Particularly Unfair to be Destroyed at 20?

At 20-years-old I had a pretty normal life. School, relationships, a place to live, an on-track career, bad hair – pretty standard stuff. And then I became bipolar and broke apart. And while I don’t recommend that anyone get sick with anything I especially don’t recommend getting a life-long illness at 20. You have too many years you have to live with it yet to go.

Is Diligently Applying Every Known Therapy and Yet Remaining Broken Unfair?

I have tried every medication, therapy, and bipolar treatment imaginable for this thing. And it doesn’t work, treatment barely makes a dent. I’ve done everything right and I’m still sick. Of course, now I’m fat, ugly, scarred, old and sick. It seems unfair.

Is Still Being Destroyed at 32 Unfair?

Illnesses steal your life. They might still moments, or days, or weeks, or years, but they steal your life. And as my entire life is structured around not getting worse it seems that other people just can’t deal with, or fit into this rigid structure. Bipolar has stolen friendship and love and the possibility of ever having children.

Bipolar IS Unfair

And so while I realize that Life Isn’t Fair and that we all get bad cards to deal with now and again, the level of unfairness brought forth with this disease still strikes me. I shouldn’t have to deal with this. I should get to be happy. I should get to get married. I should get to have someone who loves me. I should get to have the things that I want.

But I can’t. I was born with a bad brain. And it’s not fair.

[As a quick aside to the people who will tell me I have a bad attitude: 1. The fact that bipolar isn’t fair is an actual fact. Admitting it isn’t negative, it’s honest. 2. Just because people don’t admit to thinking this out loud doesn’t mean that a huge number of us aren’t thinking it. Admission and expression are helpful in acceptance of such realities.]

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

This entry was posted in Being Crazy, Bipolar Treatment, Coping, Desire For Remission, Impact of Bipolar, Losing Friends, Understanding Mental Illness and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Bipolar Is Unfair

  1. Corné says:

    Hi,
    I feel like that a lot of times. And Yes, I know there will be people who will maybe say:
    “but you can get married! You can have kids!”
    i’ve heard those remarks and I know Bipolar people who are married and does have kids.
    But me? I know that will not happen with me.
    I don’t think I want to share this horrible life of mine with anyone. I don’t know any other person in the world who would willingly put up with me. I just don’t have someone who loves me enough. And in any case: I have way too many issues. And yes: IT SUCKS! I also want to know what it feels like to know that someone truely cares and got my back. But it ain’t gonna happen.

    And kids?
    I think I got my bipolar from my mom, although she is not diagnosed. I don’t want to do that to my kids. I don’t want them to experience the same screwed up life than me. I don’t want them to have the possibility to inherit this thing. I don’t want to create kids that will always feel different.

    If there are people reading this and you have it all: the hubby, the kids, the happy ending: I am really glad for you. It’s nice to know that it is possible. But I don’t think I will ever be part of that group.

  2. Corné says:

    Hi,
    I feel like that a lot of times. And Yes, I know there will be people who will maybe say:
    “but you can get married! You can have kids!”
    i’ve heard those remarks and I know Bipolar people who are married and does have kids.
    But me? I know that will not happen with me.
    I don’t think I want to share this horrible life of mine with anyone. I don’t know any other person in the world who would willingly put up with me. I just don’t have someone who loves me enough. And in any case: I have way too many issues. And yes: IT SUCKS! I also want to know what it feels like to know that someone truely cares and got my back. But it ain’t gonna happen.

    And kids?
    I think I got my bipolar from my mom, although she is not diagnosed. I don’t want to do that to my kids. I don’t want them to experience the same screwed up life than me. I don’t want them to have the possibility to inherit this thing. I don’t want to create kids that will always feel different.

    If there are people reading this and you have it all: the hubby, the kids, the happy ending: I am really glad for you. It’s nice to know that it is possible. But I don’t think I will ever be part of that group.

  3. Natasha Tracy says:

    Hi Corne,

    Yup, that pretty much sums it up for me too. I wish that someone would prove me wrong, step up, and love me, but so far, I’m painfully right.

    And yeah, while I would never tell someone whether they should or should not have children I, personally, would hate to give this disorder to another person. All I can think of is an innocent young life being marred with this forever, not having done anything wrong, but being sick forever anyway.

    You’re not alone. We, the alone, are out here.

    - Natasha

  4. Cat Wilke says:

    myself suffering from depression and having a husband that suffers from bipolar disorder, i understand the unfairness of life and how it can so totally suck. it is a daily struggle — one that i know will never end and probably get worse as we age (we r in our 40′s). if we didn’t have our faith in Christ Jesus — i don’t know what we would do. i know that churches haven’t been too kind to the mentally ill and have contributed greatly to the stigma that causes alot of unnecessary anguish — but ppl are ppl and we push against the dogma — refusing to be isolated and shoved aside like trash. we are blessed with an awesome church and pastor — they are actually paying for additional counseling (above what my hubby already kinda gets with his pdoc and therapist) to help us with our struggle. we have been married almost 12 yrs now and have 2 kids together (he has 3 from prev marriage – all adult age) and know that we are blessed beyond belief even with our struggles — knowing that Christ has strengthened us and gives us hope. we have been burned by some churches — but we didn’t give up because we knew that Christ loves us and would find us a safe church home. Please know that you are loved, Natasha — by us and by Christ. Not trying to sell u on religion — just reaching out in Love and holding and rocking you in my arms as if i were trying to comfort my own child during their struggles. you are a blessing and a precious gift to many!! don’t forget that.

  5. Natasha Tracy says:

    Cat,

    It sounds like you have found a support system that works for you and that is something we all need. Thank-you for the kind words.

    - Natasha

  6. Amy In WI says:

    I am schizoaffective bipolar type, and boy do I know life isn’t fair. I am married, and have a child. We weren’t supposed to be able to have kids, so she is our miracle baby. But it is so hard to be not only the sick me, but to be the sick wife, the sick mother, the sick daughter, the sick granddaughter, etc.

    My mother is going through cancer treatments and it’s hard to be there for her. My brother helps take care of both me and our Mom. There are some times when I can’t even be at home with my husband and child, and have to go for visits, and try to get myself back into their routine. Medications don’t work all that well, but I am on them. I hate ECT treatments, but I do them. Yet, still no relief. What is a person to do? Try to keep on keepin’ on. That is the best I can come up with (actually, my brother came up with it!).

    I sympathise with all of you and your unique struggles. In my own struggles, I feel like a burden to everyone, and that doesn’t help with the disease. It just makes it hurt even more, but I am working on that.

  7. Natasha Tracy says:

    Hi Amy,

    Well, keep on keepin’ on is all many of us do, you’re not alone on that one. You are lucky to have family even though I understand that must be hard as well.

    Thanks for sharing. Good luck.

    - Natasha

  8. Gena says:

    Dearest Natasha,
    My husband is now 67 years old and has suffered with Bi-polar disorder for 40 years. It is hard, I read him what you all wrote and he wanted to tell you something….Medication is a given. It definaltely makes him more stable. Even though the disease never leaves him. He has been on every med you can imagine. Some help, most do not. It is a wonder that he remained stable enough to pull a 20 year career in the Army. Spending the last 13months in a hospital in Georgia before retiring. He lost two marriages and two of his children have it. One does very well, the other denies that something is wrong and suffers daily. Steve found his Faith in Jesus Christ and it has saved him from suicide on more than one occassion. Then he met me. My name is Gena and I will tell you that the good times are great times and are worth all the times when things aren’t so great. I love him so much, you are a beautiful, young person. There is someone out there that will see all the attributes you have to offer and will be willing to ride the roller coaster with you. Like Cat, I am not trying to sell you on religion, but it has made the both of us whole. As a couple and as individuals. Steve says to hang in there, the best is yet to come. He also says that perhaps bi-polar is the normal adn the rest of us just haven’t caught on yet.lol May God Bless you and watch over you during your trials. Sincerely, Steve and Gena

  9. Natasha Tracy says:

    Hi Gena and Steve,

    It sounds like you both are lucky to have found each other. It’s great that you’ve found ways that work for you.

    Thank-you for the kind words.

    - Natasha

  10. michelle says:

    i can relate to your feelings about mental illness. as fate would have it, i’ve been really down all day today thinking about how i was born with a damaged brain and how mental illness has killed my life. when you described the feeling of being destroyed, from the time of your diagnosis till the present, i just wanted to cry. that’s exactly how i feel inside. i feel destroyed. and the medicines i take, they don’t do much to help. if anything, i feel they’ve contributed even more to the deterioration of my brain.

    and because my brain is so sick, i, too, cant have the things i want. i never had an easy time with friendships. my family are all normal, so none of them can relate to me. and i only had like one real boyfriend my whole life. i wish i could find someone like steve and gena found each other, but my illness is so cruel and merciless, it tries to keep me trapped inside my own lonely world. and therefore, my fear and shame towards myself for being this way just continues to grow. and i retreat even further inside myself so i wont have to feel that pain.

    mental illness is a murderer of the brain, as well as the heart. it is as evil and remorseless as cancer is to the body. it’s a lifelong condition that can only be managed. to me, that just isn’t fair at all. none of this stuff is, but life is life and it doesn’t ask us what can it do to help make things more fair. life sucks really bad for some of us. and i guess we can only accept that and try to do our best. otherwise, we’d only be torturing ourselves by focusing on the negative things all the time.

  11. Amber says:

    I was diagnosed as bipolar when I was 30 a month after my second marriage. It explained why my first marriage was so difficult- not all my fault though. But now I get to put my secong husband and my kids through it all over again. I thought once I was away from my verbally abusive first husband I would snap out of it…nope.

    My poor kids, and my husband…some of the stuff I say is so mean. I lose it and throw stuff, its all I can do to not throw it at them. Its like a monster has taken over my body and I am silently watching it all happen.

    Its not fair, I just want to me be normal…but what is normal anymore?

  12. Natasha Tracy says:

    Hi Michelle and Amber,

    I can see you identify with the sentiment. It always upsets me that people identify like that, but it’s also worth noting that it means we’re not alone. Sometimes it seems like s a really tiny thing, but it is something.

    - Natasha

  13. Pingback: Mental Disorders 101

  14. physical therapist says:

    Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

  15. Natasha Tracy says:

    That’s great. Thanks.

    - Natasha

  16. Lisa says:

    I was diagnosed at 20 as well. I’m 21 now.
    But it wasn’t an end, it was a beginning. Getting the right diagnosis and stable on medications lets me live my life, and pursue my dreams. I’m in college, an astrophysics major. No, it’s not fair that I’m going to be on medication the rest of my life, and always looking over my shoulder for the mood swings to come back. And it’s a little odd that my brain is what allows me to study something I love, and be as damaged as it is at the same time.

    But this year that I’ve had that I’ve been stable? I’ve been happier than I’ve ever been. And I don’t mean manic-happy. I mean genuinely happy.

    I lost my faith with my diagnosis, but I don’t miss it anymore. My life is full without religion.

    Yeah, it’s not fair that I have bipolar disorder. But it’s also not fair that I’m that girl that gets better grades than you even though I don’t study. It doesn’t even out, but… I think I’m ok with that.

  17. Natasha Tracy says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I think the “unfair” concept really varies with the impact of the disease. I hear from some people that are absolutely destroyed by this disease, and I have horrible stories of my own.

    I respect your opinion, and I hope you stay stable, but at 21, with only a year into the disease, you just haven’t seen the disease’s devastation yet. When I was 21 I was sure I was never doing to go through ECT, go on antipsychotics, and certainly not get surgery, but I have. Perspectives change with desperation and pain.

    But like I said, I hope your treatment keeps working, and you remain stable. But you may find there are some unpredictable bumps ahead.

    - Natasha

  18. Nadine says:

    Finally someone who expresses what I’m feeling. I was diagnosed bipolar a year ago…when I was 20. I’ve been reading back on your blogs and it feels a bit better knowing that someone actually understands. It kinda makes me feel less crazy and lonely

  19. Natasha Tracy says:

    Nadine,

    It’s great that you’re finding this helpful. You are absolutely not alone.

    - Natasha

  20. Alexandra says:

    I feel exactly like you all. I´m 37 and I´ve been diagnosed 2 years ago. One of the most painful results of the decease is that my husband unable to cope with my condition, left me a year ago… That makes me thing that no one never would be able to put up with me. I feel so alone and sad. I was punished for having an illness that I was not to blame for it. That´s totally unfair.

  21. Natasha Tracy says:

    Hi Alexandra,

    I’m sorry to hear that. Many of us have had similar experiences. And no, it isn’t remotely fair.

    All I can tell you is that some people really do make it work and you may be in that group some day. Until then, try to take care of yourself. It’s what we can do.

    - Natasha

  22. Ire says:

    I agree. It isn’t fair. It never will be.

    My “it’s unfair” rant doesn’t just include not having Bipolar Disorder, though, it includes never not having.

    This disease began stealing my life when I was just a toddler. By Kindergarten, I was well versed in self-injury (scratching, head banging, slapping, skin picking, etc), getting in trouble for symptoms, being bullied, having others avoid me, and pain. I knew pain.

    I always hated myself.

    By third grade, I was thinking how much better things would be if I wasn’t alive.

    By sixth, I had made my first well-thought out suicide plan.

    I’m in ninth grade now. I’ve been hospitalized. I haven’t been stable for more than a few weeks straight. I’m still in pain.

    I’ve always had Bipolar Disorder. In a way, I don’t regret it – it shaped me; but I’ve never known anything other than pain.

    I also think it’s unfair that I don’t only have Bipolar Disorder.

    ADHD. Can’t concentrate or remember to save my life.

    Math-Processing Disorder.

    I have PTSD and Dissociative disorders (DID, depersonalization). Seven years of sexual abuse. Addicted and abusive father. Mentally ill mother. Watching my mother almost die. Severe bullying. Almost drowned by another kid.

    Asperger’s Sydrome and Sensory Processing Disorder. Would have hard time getting friends with or without the Bipolar. Don’t understand social situations. Don’t when to speak, when not to. Can’t make eye contact. I can’t eat a lot of foods I love because I gag on the texture. Light touch makes me meltdown. Throw myself against walls just to feel stimulation.

    I have or have had nearly every anxiety disorder in the DSM: Seperation, General, Obsessive, Panic, Social.

    I have Borderline Traits. Even when the Bipolar is stable, my moods aren’t. Relationships are hard. Once again, with or without Bipolar, I’d have a hard time.

    Eating Disorders in the past: Overeating, Anorexia, Bulimia.

    Substance Abuse in the past; still get cravings.

    To top it off, I don’t exactly have Bipolar, either. I have Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Type.

    Paranoia and delusion since toddler-hood. Hallucination since Kindergarten. I almost died because of one deranged, elderly one. Thought she was trying to drive me insane and bring me into her world. She got me to hurt myself. I could feel her attacking me. She sent demons, spies, and messengers. She could use any reflective surface, radio (audio only), or person to monitor me. She could control the environment. Sporadic catatonia.

    Then there are the physical ills:

    Hypoglycemia.

    Seizures (not tonic clonic).

    Balance problems.

    Memory problems.

    Some neurological/seizure-related muscle weakness.

    A stutter and slur to my speech.

    Pronunciation deficits.

    Heart problems.

    Migraines.

    Tourettes.

    Low blood pressure.

    Acid reflux.

    IBS.

    I’m fourteen, and this is how my life has always been. It’s not fair. It really isn’t. I want to be able to “just” worry about dating, drama, and friendship, too. I want to get better grades. I want to go to college, get a career in psychology (child psychopathy). I want to; but I’m never sure I can.

    And yet, others have it worse. Things are more unfair to them.

    Fighting for their stability gets me through.

  23. Virginia says:

    Natasha,

    I’m glad I stumbled upon this. You saved my life tonight. Thank-You very much. I’m tired, and not the sleepy kind, the weary and worn out kind. And I’m facing not being able to get my medications anymore. That scares the heck out of me… Hopefully I can resolve that situation before I get psychotic. I have Severe Mania/Severe Depression of the Bipolar kind. I have bookmarked this page. Thanks again… I was diagnosed at 29, now 48 and looking back I’ve had Bipolar all my life, my family even looks back and realizes I had Bipolar from a very young age.

  24. Natasha Tracy says:

    Hi Virginia,

    I so glad I could help. I feel for you and where you are in your life right now. Drop in any time. You are not alone.

    - Natasha

  25. Oooh Djeah says:

    Hello
    I too have been bipolar since my teens.
    My symptoms were mainly recurrent depressions, dysthymia, low stress endurance, social anxiety and of course brief periods of excitement.
    I learned about the end of the manic tunnel when i tried an antidepressant, and after that episode things were pretty clear: I am f***ed up for the rest of my life!
    Well I never got on meds (except for lamictal which I thought was working at first, but after some dosage adjustments I was more like a John Romero-movie character (without the human flesh eating part).
    I have been trying out an insane amount of alternative treatments and a lot of them have given me a great deal of relief.
    Herbal, synthetic, aromatherapy, minerals, amino acids… The list goes on.
    But finally I have found a combination that works wonders.

    My main supplment with the best results is lithium orotate of which I take 5 -10 mg daily.
    Aminoacids have also been tremendously helpful. You can check out taurine, l-theanine and l-tryptophan (you might want to be careful with tryptophan since it can trigger hypomania).

    I have also noticed that turmeric root had some effect on my social anxiety symptoms (this one might interact with medications though).
    And don´t forget the aromatherapy: Sniffing out some ylang ylang-oil is very relaxing.
    I guess what I want to say is that there is hope.
    Is it just my imagination, or are bipolar people more good looking than the average person?

  26. Katie says:

    Wow, everybody on here is saying the exact thing I’ve been thinking. I was diagnosed right out of college, am married, and have a toddler daughter. I am the “bread winner” of the family, but my tolerance and ability to perform well at my job is slowly but surely decreasing. I am afraid of what might happen to my family if I lose all ability to be “working” and “mommy.”

    I’ve always heard it said that you can’t control your circumstances, but you can control your response to them. If only that were true for us with bipolar.

  27. Hi Katie,

    “you can’t control your circumstances, but you can control your response to them. If only that were true for us with bipolar.”

    Yes. I’ve found myself thinking about this many times.

    But the thing we can’t control when we try is our actions. Our “response” as in our mental response may be deluded with illness, but our actions are ours.

    True, sometimes we can’t even fight our actions through the illness, but I feel most of the time this isn’t true. Most of the time we do control our actions. So, if you ask me, that’s our version of that saying.

    I can’t help that I get depressed, that’s the illness (the circumstances) but I can help how I handle that depression – maybe make an appointment with a therapist.

    - Natasha

  28. Brittany says:

    Yeah, Bipolar is unfair.

    Watching a sufferer mutate into a mean, bitter control freak is even worse.

  29. Sarah says:

    Hi Brittany,
    Could I suggest you change the end of your sentence to ‘also unfair’ rather than ‘even worse’? It must be terribly hard for some people to be friends or carers but it is a tough call to say that it is worse than the illness itself, if you have not actually experienced the illness.

    My husband is on dialysis. He is cranky, moody, and incapacitated- every day a new pain. It’s not easy for me, not at all. But I’d never suggest that I was worse off than him. Not ever.

    While you were watching a person turn into a mean and nasty control freak, did you stop to think of the mental hell that person was in? What the illness was doing to them? Do you know what it is like to travel through hell and back?

  30. Hi Sarah,

    Great response. I’m a big advocate of compassion for those that love people with a mental illness, but that doesn’t mean it overrides the person with the illness themselves.

    - Natasha

  31. Samm says:

    It’s so nice to know that there are other people who know what this feels like. I feel like a stranger to society. I was misdiagnosed at age 14 as having unipolar depression. The medications made me crazy suicidal. I finally got the right diagnosis of bipolar at age 20 but I didn’t have health insurance after that. I recently got on County health care and just started taking Lamictal. I haven’t noticed any changes so far. I definitely understand the feelings of fear and hopelessness in regards to marriage and friends and relationships and babies. I’m only 26 but I feel old, tired and weary. I feel like my youth has been stolen from me. I don’t have friends and I haven’t dated in six years. I am unhealthily envious and bitter towards people who have love and friends. I feel like I’m trudging up a narrow mountain path, below me a dark abyss, and I’ll never reach the top. I feel like I’m always about to slip off the edge. That is what life feels like for us. It may be that way till we die. I guess the only thing for us to do is accept our fate and accept that life is not fair.

  32. usedtosing says:

    Natasha: I just read your post in 2010 and some of your responses to others “responding” to you and you have a gift which I hope gives you some sense of purpose and hope. I, as my username indicates, used to be a jazz singer/musician and this illness ended my career – made it impossible for me to be stable enough for long enough to continue. I typed in “Having Bi-polar Disorder has stolen my career” and it brought me to this website and your aforementioned post. I am 59 years old. I will be 60 in November and have been dealing with this for 30 years which is not as early in my life as some of those who have shared in this forum but I have found that comparisons are useless and deceptive so there is no need to go there. It’s enough to say that the only thing that gives me comfort is that I believe in God and sense the presence of Christ with me even when I “feel” awful. I am not sharing this to evangelize. It’s just that I’ve wanted to end my life so many times and yet I can’t because I am absolutely sure that eternity is just around the corner and this time “on earth” so to speak is like a split second by comparison which changes my perspective on everything. I’m also dealing with chronic back pain and can’t go out much which is isolating me, have no visitors except for a few people I can call if I’m absolutely at my wit’s end. Maybe coming here for a little while each day will fill up the loneliness but I can’t sit for very long so I will sign off now.

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