A normal life is something I’m not very familiar with. I’ve never really had one. From the time I was a kid with an alcoholic father, to the teenage years I spent depressed, to my adult years dealing with psychiatrists, symptoms and medication side effects, I’ve never really enjoyed anything termed normalcy.
But the question is, does anyone with bipolar enjoy a normal life?
What’s a Normal Life?
Now, people will tell me that there’s no such thing as a normal life. These people are wrong. There is such a thing as normalcy. You might think of it as the “average.” There’s always an average and yes, there is an average life. I would say the average life, a normal life, consists of happiness, sadness, anger, glee, and other emotions all wrapped into one. But these emotions are moderated. They run a reasonable spectrum as do experiences. In a normal life, people are generally well. People do not have to fight every day to stay alive. People don’t have to worry about brain altering medications. People do not concern themselves with psychiatrists. People do not have to track every mood. The normal life is outside of all these things.
Well, that depends on who you ask. I talk to a lot of people with bipolar disorder and I would say that a life with bipolar is a life that is, at least in part, dictated by bipolar. It’s a life where bipolar needs to be taken into account almost every moment in the day. It’s a life where medications and routines and sleep and food and exercise and therapy and doctor’s appointments all must be made the priority. It’s a life that may contain normal elements, but sure the heck also contains abnormal elements. Emotions tend to be extreme. Coping mechanisms must continually be applied. People must use the tools they learn in therapy all the time. It’s a life that cannot be separated from the illness.
Bipolar is Like That
But bipolar is like that. Bipolar is an illness of the brain. Your brain is in every part of your life and so is the bipolar. Persistent, serious, long-standing illnesses creep into every aspect of your life. But this is on purpose. This creeping into your life is what needs to happen if you plan to stay well. You need to control for the bipolar variable all the time, everywhere. So it makes your life really abnormal.
Have I Ever Had a Normal Life?
That being said, for some people, they can get away with just thinking about their bipolar sometimes. They might be able to go days without it seriously entering into the consciousness. When things are going well, this is possible. When medications are working, this can happen. When you’re in remission, bipolar doesn’t have to be at the forefront of every moment.
But as for me, this rarely occurs. Things rarely “go well” for any extended period of time. If I forgot about my bipolar (which I never do) that would just lead to it coming back with a vengeance. If I didn’t use all those fancy coping mechanisms and therapeutic tools and medications and whatnot my bipolar would just come back all the stronger. So I can’t forget about it. It’s a constant battle. Ignore that battle at your own peril.
But that is just me. Do you think your life is like everyone else’s? Do you have a “normal” life? Is it even possible?