One of the problems with mental illness is that it’s invisible. As I’ve heard many times, “You don’t look sick.”
Well of course I don’t. You’re not looking at an fMRI.
And because we don’t “look” sick, our illness moves into the “not real” category. Bipolar, the unreal illness, the imagined one.
And it’s even worse because others will tell you that mental illness doesn’t exist. Other’s will confirm your worst fears and tell you what the tiny, horrible voice in your head has been saying – you’re just imagining you’re ill. Really, bipolar disorder doesn’t exist at all.
But of course the voice is wrong and so are the ignorant people – bipolar is as real as it painfully, awfully, grippingly gets.
But that doesn’t make it visible. And its invisibility makes it all that much harder to fight.
Fighting the Enemy
People would argue about characterizing bipolar disorder as an enemy, but I say anything that keeps trying to kill me is enemy enough for my lexicon. And make no mistake; bipolar constantly tries to make sure I stop breathing air.
And I know any force that’s trying to take the life from me is an enemy. It is the thing to fight. It’s the monster in the closet or the vampire in the cemetery. I know it’s what I have to stand up to in order to continue my human existence.
Bipolar – The Invisible Enemy
But it’s invisible. And kind of like the superhero keeps punching into nothingness when trying to fight an invisible foe, fighting the invisible mental disorder is equally tough. It’s easy to forget how real it is. It’s easy to stop remembering that it is not you. It’s easy to start thinking that it’s all “in your head.”
I Visualize the Bipolar
So I visualize the bad guy. I put shape and form and colour to the enemy to better see it as outside myself. To better see it as the thing to fight, and not simply a messy part of me. The bipolar is over there. I can see it. Not in here. Over there.
This makes me stronger. This makes me more able to fight that which I know I must. This helps me keep bipolar in its place and outside my Natasha, outside my head.
And it reminds me that I don’t want to kill myself. Bipolar wants to kill me. And that change in perspective makes all the difference in the world to the girl holding the razorblade.