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Being Bipolar and Alone Isn't Poetic or Romantic

Go to the ocean. The ocean may have been calling or I might have simply been talking to myself. But somewhere in my head a voice said, “go to the ocean.”

I went because I thought the warm sun might feel good on exposed skin. Skin that hadn’t felt a breath in weeks.

The beaches here aren’t like the postcard-perfect vistas of Hawaii, they don’t have imported, pea-size gravel, like those of Monaco, and they don’t have the azure water and latte froth sands of Venezuela; but I like them just fine.

Rocky West Coast Beach
Beautiful West Coast beach photo provided by Chris Lawes.

Here we have navy and teal water butted up against fist-sized rocks, sun-bleached and strengthened driftwood, framed by often slimy kelp. Every surface is difficult to walk on and inevitably I fall. Someone’s wet dog always seems to find me irresistible.

But I like it just fine. It’s a West Coast beach. It’s where I come from. It’s who I am.

A Life With Bipolar Disorder Is Lonely

I am the only person here alone. I am always the only person alone. People have brought friends, lovers, children, and dogs, but I, as ever, have no one to bring. I sit with stones digging into me and kelp’s slime drying onto my sleeve, to watch the people. The people with lives. I don’t have a life. I can only watch life pass by. Observe it. Like a specimen in a lab.

I try to read a book or think of the over-romanticized notion that this loneliness is simply fodder for the writer in me. But I’m not 21 any more. I’m past the point where it’s poetic to be alone, knowing that I have all the time in the world to create a web of relationships. Being alone isn’t romantic or just a convenient pretense for ennui. It’s just lonely. And increasingly pathetic.

I have spent depressed years crying on this beach and no one has ever walked up and sat down next to me. No one has ever asked why I am crying, sometimes wailing, at the sea. I’m sure it’s because they are there, on the beach, with Someone. I’m sure it’s because with Someone to focus on, my pain is easily ignored, dismissed. If I had Someone, maybe I could ignore it too.

No, of course this isn’t true. I know a convenient lie when I write one.

Once Bipolar, Always Bipolar

It’s too easy to pick what you don’t have and assume that its acquisition would fix everything; would fix a life broken by tears, knives, sickness, and sorrow. But it won’t. Having obtained it, there would simply be another brass ring to hopelessly reach for. Broken would still be broken. Sick would still be sick. Nothing gets you better except getting better. Being better.

In bipolar disorder, this is being “in remission”. You never get to be not bipolar. You get remission from illness. For a while you’re “better”. You remit. Until you don’t.

And I don’t.

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

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

36 thoughts on “Being Bipolar and Alone Isn't Poetic or Romantic”

  1. I think it’s great that you at least have writing as an outlet. I was playing guitar and singing at open mics for a couple of years and made friends that way, I made really crappy art, Took free classes online at Khan academy, I’m learning German even though I really suck at it, BUT I really do have my dark moments of despair from time to time. One thing that helped was to spend time volunteering with veterans and it really helped me put things in to perspective. I’m not always going to be okay, but that’s the way bipolar is. It’s exhausting, and has really been a nightmare, and coming back from that lowest point is kind of hard, although it did give me some interesting stories and rather dark material for stand up comedy. Basically, I’m alone a LOT. that’s just the way it is for me even though it doesn’t have to be. I don’t really socialize very much these days because I’m focusing on other things, but when I did I met all kinds of really cool people. I really hope it works out.

  2. the suffering will end one day
    the moon will lift from your heart
    the judges will all be silenced

    firefly flicker in the night
    firefly flicker in the night
    firefly flicker in the night

  3. Really not cool to see people bashing this BJK, who made some excellent, spot-on points.

    This blog poster is obviously a highly intelligent person, but I really feel she’s missing the boat. And although I understand her feeling of hopelessness (maybe not personally in the exact same way, but I do get it) and acknowledge its validity, there is a point at which we as human beings struggling with mental illness have to step up to the plate.

    I have OCD so severe I’ve been on the brink of suicide. I’m an innately joyful, energetic person, but it destroys my life functionality and leaves me in a constant state of terror of messing up my organizational schemes and losing control. It comes with tons of stigma and misunderstanding, with people either seeing it as a joke or downright thinking I’m nuts. I’ve been judged, fired, and cast aside for having it. I’ve tried SSRI’s and ERP (CBT) therapy and get nowhere. Even had therapists tell me they “gave up on me.”

    I also have Borderline Personality Disorder. But I’m working on myself, appreciating its good sides and admitting/trying to change the bad. Nonetheless, with that label I face an often immediate judgment from people. We live in a world where supposedly these things are accepted and understood, yet we’re encouraged not to disclose them to employers, new friends, or romantic prospects. Certainly BPD has caused me to treat people wrongly and act very dysfunctional. But people seem to have no problem equating it to sociopathy, calling me such slurs as “toxic,” “manipulative,” “sick,” “broken,” etc. There is not much empathy for the people who have BPD, but those who have had to deal with them get coddled like the poor victims of the evil BPD women.

    I have lost years of my life to OCD/ADHD, and dear relationships (for now) due to my BPD and their Bipolar. I have had damage done to my self-esteem through bullying, exclusion, and alienation because I suspect myself of being somewhat autistic/Aspberger’s. No matter how hard I try to be normal, I always stick out like a sore thumb.

    Trust me. I get what it’s like to feel like a victim. I spend time in self-pity and desolation. I have reservoirs of anger and resentment. I ask, why me? What did I do to deserve this?

    But at the same time, for myself and for the betterment of the world around me, I have to be the one to empower myself with the gift of free will and autonomy. A person is defined not by what life hands them, but by what they do with it. Do we have varying degrees of ability to fix our own problems? Ok, yes, we do. Some are just always going to have an easier time of it than others. But ultimately, you do still have a choice. A self-defeating attitude is like the bed you want to crawl into. Stay there for a while, but you have to get up and go outside eventually. Do not willingly believe the negativity your brain is feeding you about yourself. And make that decision to start healing the wounded parts of yourself. From the one who never fit in… You may not know what’s going on in the heads of those people on the beach. Their apparent perfection may be a surface illusion. But reach out to find solace in others, and find that we are only as lonely as we choose to be.

  4. I’m a poet, and I do think the unusual loneliness of bipolar has informed my writing. That doesn’t mean it’s poetic/romantic to be lonely, just that writing is a way for me to process and deal.

  5. what really hurts is when you make a friend, she asks you through a stupid game,”truth or dare”, if you have a mental illness and you answer yes. We both had made it clear that we can’t stand a liar, so I couldn’t lie. Since then, she seems to be slowly drifting away from me. So what is best? Honesty or losing a great friend?

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