In the times when I’ve had prolonged periods of wellness, I don’t particularly think about bipolar disorder and I don’t feel its implications. I just get up, get out of bed, say ‘hi’ to my cats, and go about my day. True, the med-taking is a reminder, but bipolar isn’t necessarily top-of-mind.
This does not mean, however, that I can forget about the bipolar disorder. Forgetting about bipolar disorder is one of the most dangerous things you can do.
I Thought I Was Better
Many people start to think they’re “cured” of bipolar disorder. Sometimes this is because they’re in a natural remission, sometimes it’s due to mania and sometimes it’s because the meds are working properly.
And it’s OK to feel that way. Maybe something has gone right for you and you’ll never experience another bipolar episode.
But you still can’t afford to forget about bipolar disorder.
I Ignored Bipolar Disorder / I Forgot I Had Bipolar Disorder
I can’t tell you the number of people who have said this to me:
. . . it has been those times when I have tried to ignore it, pretend that all is good, when Life falls apart.
[Part of a great comment by Scott. I recommend reading the whole thing.]
Even if life really is good, the forgetting of the illness can make life fall apart.
Diamonds and Bipolar Disorder Are Forever
I know there are people who would disagree with this one, but bipolar disorder is forever. It’s not a “sometimes” illness. There is no antidote. As much as I know we want to forget the unpleasantness, we want to believe it will never happen again, we want to believe we don’t have to worry about it, wanting just doesn’t make it so.
Because we know that the more episodes you have, the more likely you are to have future episodes. Sorry. That’s just the way it is.
Caution – Bipolar Symptom Crossing
And while it is terribly unpleasant, you need to be on the watch for bipolar symptoms. They pop out of nowhere. Or they pop out of somewhere. But they pop out. Even when everything is going well and you’re doing everything right, they pop out.
It doesn’t matter if you’re taking medication or not, in therapy or not, shooting wheat grass or not, it’s critical to see the early warning signs or reoccurring symptoms.
Because bipolar disorder is a slippery slope. You can go from feeling good, to OK, to sad, to suicidal in the blink of an eye; mania is the same. And if you haven’t been there in a while, your coping skills might be a little rusty.
The Good News About Being a Crossing Guard
The good news is if you watch for oncoming symptoms, you can work to avoid them before the soccer-mom-talking-on-a-cell-phone-while-yelling-at-her-kids-driven SUV hits you. It’s easy to avoid a car you see coming down the street, it’s really hard to avoid one that’s five feet away.
Believe me, I understand the temptation to try to forget the pain you didn’t want to remember in the first place, but also believe me when I tell you it’s in your best interest not to do so. Unfortunately, with bipolar disorder, ignorance is not bliss.