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Accepting Limitations Placed On You By Bipolar Disorder

I met a beautiful young creature. I then flirted with said creature, as is my habit. Eventually, she asked me a question about local politics. A perfection reasonable question, one assumes. There was just one problem, I don’t know anything about local politics. This is because I refuse to watch the news as I find it depressing and I told her so. She said she understood.

Then we planned to go out to a movie. She asked me to pick the film. I picked one of the action-suspense genre as then there was no chance of me becoming emotionally activated by a stupid movie. Nope, no romantic movies on a date with me.

And then we discussed the showing to see. I have to see the early show because I turn into a pumpkin at 9:00 PM. And really, I prefer to see matinees because they disrupt my sleep cycle less which disrupts my bipolar less.

Poor girl, she had no idea what her flirtation had waded her into.

Bipolar Limitations

Yes, it’s true, my life is built around my mental health. My life is built around my stability. If something is going to destabilize me, I just don’t do it. I apologize to the cute boys and girls of the world, but that’s just the way it is. I don’t expect others to lick a toad and get sick just to be around me and I think others shouldn’t expect me to do things that would make me sick to be around them either.

Accepting These Limitations

And while sometimes I get frustrated as I bump up against the things I just can’t do for the betterment of my mental health, I have to accept that these are the choices I have to make if I want to be well. And I do. I really, really do. And altering the time of a date is a small price to pay for not wanting to kill yourself. And yes, it’s really that simple.

And while this girl doesn’t know me today, if one day she does, I would like to think that she would respect my desire to be well. My desire to take care of myself. My desire to be true to myself. Because people who care about us care about our self-love too and don’t judge us for what we can’t do, but instead celebrate us for what we can.

And believe me when I tell you, in spite of my own limitations, there are still lots of fun ways to spend a date. Trust me.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus 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.

28 thoughts on “Accepting Limitations Placed On You By Bipolar Disorder”

  1. This comment is for trish g. Hi trish, I think I was where you were about three months ago. I was recovered and stable but terrified of being myself again in case it led to Mania.
    My psychologist’s advice was to not be afraid to let my personality shine again. After all, now I have supports in place such as medication, and early warning signs for myself and family to notice. So I tried her advice and it worked! It wasn’t long before I was feeling better about myself again. I quickly learned to tell the difference between a good mood and a manic one.

    So my advice to you is: go wild! have a good time! Be spontaneous! Just make sure you are in bed by 10:30pm. Alcohol is not necessary to have fun 🙂

  2. Hi Natasha,

    Do you think it would be possible for you to list some of the other limitations you put in place to keep yourself safe? I’m still learning to control my bipolar so it would be useful to see if any of the things I’m doing without thinking are actually having a detrimental effect on my health.

    I understand if perhaps that’s a little too personal but maybe you could list some more general ones if it is?

    Thanks for another fantastic and well written piece.


  3. I am working towards being stable and calm and balanced, and sometimes I hate it. My natural personality type is to be creative and random and spontaneous. That is how I experience vitality and feeling alive and whole. Sometimes, when I am following routine it feels like I am limiting myself, and that I no longer have a life. I feel ripped off and like I am punishing myself.

    However, I am going with the winners. If people with credible recovery, (given the diagnosis), have learned to maximize their stability by living with a routine,then that is something I will also work towards being able to do, and to do it peacefully. When I am raging and crazy, or I can’t get off the couch, I am not living a quality life. I guess I am embracing my inner Buddha, and allowing acceptance to become the way I live my life. I have learned that my life with biploar is suffering, and am calmly letting go of the struggle so I can have peace.

  4. I admire how strongly you stick to it.

    I have to maintain a balanced schedule or things just turn bad. I become angry, agitated, irritable, unfocused, snap on people, and if it continues, huddled in a corner crying for no real reason.

    This trick, as you have discovered, is not “limiting” your life, as one comment suggests is happening, but balancing it and making the most of it.

    I am home most nights by 10 pm. I have scheduled breaks that allow me to step away from work and relax/clear my brain. I wake up at the same times, and sleep at the same times. My weekends are scheduled pretty similar each week.
    I find comfort and peace in my schedule.

    Some people might find it limiting, but I find it balancing and instilling happiness. People run around non-stop (even non-bipolar people) and never get anywhere. They do not enjoy their life jam packed with things every waking moment, so why do it?

    I think it is a great gift to know one’s limits, and respect those limits. Yay for you!

  5. I agree with this post, because everytime I’ve tried to “tough it out” it just never worked.

    For example, I took a job that I knew would make me worse because it was a 2 hour drive and they made me feel anxious about asking for accommodations due to my disorder. It didn’t end up working out, and I made myself even worse.

    Now I know to trust my judgement and refuse to sacrifice my health & peace of mind.

  6. I do agree with Steffie in that Bipolar disorder doesn’t have to limit you, but I agree with Natasha that one has to be sensible about day-to-day choices, and even bigger life choices. You can do anything you want but you can’t do everything you want every day.

    In regards to stigma, I believe that mean and insecure people create stigma about all sorts of things, so it can’t really be eradicated. Education about mental illness can reduce stigma but there are some people who just don’t want to be educated.

    In regards to gaining control over bipolar disorder, it is not always something we have a choice about. The ability to function with bipolar disorder depends on a number of factors including age of onset, education, family and social support, access to services, and many more. Your mindset is only one factor here.

    In regards to finding love and other of life’s adventures, we bipolars are well-equipped. I found love when I was fat and crazy, but not when I was skinny and high-achieving. It can happen anywhere, any time, to anyone. I hope the cute girl calls you back – and if she doesn’t, she doesn’t deserve you.

  7. Hi Natasha

    I agree with your approach. I wish I had your discipline to do it, too! For example, I know I ought to have regular sleep times but I don’t; I am always tempted to stay up late after a tiring day with my kids around, so I can have some space for myself.

    But with regard to Steffie’s point, I was reading a book about surviving Bipolar written by a guy who is a psychiatrist AND Bipolar (I forget his name) and something he said rings true for me, and that is this: Bipolar lets us think we’re in control and, like a mean sleeping dog, every now and then it will wake up to bite us, just to remind us who is really in charge. We do, or should do, what we can to encourage the Bipolar to stay asleep! I’d say what you are doing is keeping it from waking up. But you know how it is: There are those BP “break thoughs” that occur every now and then. How we manage our lives may determine the extent of the damage the BP does when it wakes up for a stretch and how soon it goes back to sleep. I’d guess you’re pretty good at that! Me, I’m not …

  8. Hi Steffie,

    Certainly it is your prerogative not to take your bipolar into consideration in an situation, but that is not a reasonable state of affairs for many. Many of us have to watch out diet, sleep, exercise and many other things to stay well. If you do not need those things for your wellness, that is good for you but it certainly isn’t reasonable to chastise others for making good decisions about their own health. Taking care of oneself due to an illness isn’t stigma-creating it’s just good medical sense. People with diabetes can’t run around eating sugar and that’s exactly the same thing.

    – Natasha Tracy

  9. Allowing yourself to be limited by Bipolar is disabling yourself. Putting my illness first would have me not doing the things I love, even on the days I want to jump of the roof I suck it up and go to work or school, yes there are days where it’s harder to do, days where I just want to hide away or days I wish it would all end but I won’t let those days disable me, stop me from enjoying the small things in life. If anyone asked me if Bipolar limits my life then the answer is no, I won’t let my mental illness rule my life, I do, I’m in control, not my sickness. I don’t like that people allow their mental health disable them because it doesn’t the truth is you control your life and just because you illness makes you feel depressed today, tomorrow you’re going to be happy again (or a few weeks down the line but you get the picture) I’ve been diagnosed bipolar 2 years now and not once have I let it dictate the decisions I make, I wake up feeling like crap but remind myself that if I carry on as normal that crap feeling will go away eventually and I’ll feel like myself again soon. It’s people who allow their illness to be in control who don’t help people like me drop the stigma that comes with mental health, it’s why people like me hide it away and don’t disclose it to employers and friends because they’ll judge me on garbage they see on tv and read online.

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