If You Can Live Well With Bipolar, You Must Not Have Bipolar?
I have someone peppering me with comments and emails right now claiming that if I’m living well, then I must not really have bipolar disorder. Moreover, this person claims that bipolar II isn’t actually real and that bipolar I is the only “real manic depression.” Naturally, I am not conversing with this person in spite of his threats to disparage me in an upcoming film. I do feel it’s important to say this though: it is entirely possible to have bipolar and disorder and live a full and successful life.
What is Living Well?
“Living well,” or “living a full and successful life,” is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. I’m not about to tell you what it means for you. It might be being in a loving relationship, having a family, having friends, keeping a job, living in a nice house or being fulfilled in other ways. Living well is something that all humans strive for and, let’s face it, many people have trouble achieving it at all times. We’re not really any different, in that respect.
Living Well with Bipolar
Again, this is a definition that is personal but if I had to give one, I would say that living well with bipolar disorder means having a full and fulfilling life with minimal bipolar symptoms. (No symptoms would be nice, but that’s not really a necessary condition for fulfillment and happiness for many.)
Can You Have Bipolar and Live Well?
Of course you can. People do it all the time. You neighbour might be bipolar and you don’t know because he’s living the same life you are. He’s living in the same kind of house, with the same kind of wife and the same kind of kids. Really. It happens all the time.
And really, he still has bipolar disorder.
Treatments in modern day to allow for this. With the combination of medication and therapy, many people learn how to live a life where bipolar disorder has minimal or a manageable impact. It doesn’t mean these people don’t have a mental illness, it just means that treatment is effective. The idea that people with bipolar disorder have to have a certain kind of life is just stigma talking. People with bipolar disorder have many kinds of lives. We’re all different and bipolar affects us differently. That is normal. That’s not a confirmation of a lack of illness, it’s confirmation of brain complexity and humanity.
In short, the individual who is running around telling me (and I’m sure many others) that I am a victim of a psychiatric conspiracy, that I don’t really have a mental illness and that I’m spreading lies about bipolar is, well, judgemental and delusional. If I were a different kind of person he might make me feel bad about who I am and what I do. But I know these guys. I know the people who would attack others and make sweeping judgements. I know the guys who would spread the stigma of what mental illness is “supposed” to be.
And I know these guys are not to be listened to.
So if you run into this person, or a person like him, try to shrug it off. Judgements about your manifestation of bipolar disorder and your life with bipolar disorder are unfair, unfounded and false. You live your best life. And tell this guy to stick it. You know who you are. No justification needed.
Tracy, N. (2014, November 18). If You Can Live Well With Bipolar, You Must Not Have Bipolar?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2014/11/if-you-can-live-well-with-bipolar-you-must-not-have-bipolar
Author: Natasha Tracy
I'm pretty open about my disorder. It's something all of my friends know about me. They love me. I trust them. I want them to have an eye on my if they notice in not okay before I do. In that openness is turns out I knew five, FIVE, people with BPD (including Bipolar I). All people I respect, admired, and who I wanted to immulate. ALL very successful people. Masters degrees, great parents, happily married, doing very
well in there careers, etc. One of those people (whom I'd know for eight years and had no idea he was BP) is a doctor.
I would consider myself "living well" with BPD these last few years since I was diagnosed. But the stigma is real. And that is why I am open about it. I was relieved to know I wasn't alone, it was more common than I realized, and it wasn't a death sentence. I had my own stigmas. I'm so glad I was wrong.
Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder has nothing to do with how successful you are or aren’t. It has everything to do with the ups and downs we experience. The fact that there are so many functional people with the illness means that treatment works. That’s like saying you can’t have a good life if you have diabetes. Diabetes is a horrible illness, but there are ways to control it. There are also ways to control bipolar disorder.
I would describe living well as being happy and functional because when you are happy and functional you can feel more personally fulfilled and contribute more to society.
And the most important part of that is that it applies to EVERYONE, bipolar or not.
The struggle to live well is taking each day one day at a time..
Surely BP is present from birth? My family seems to have the DNA for this disease. Lithium and weekly psychotherapy (25 years) certainly help, but I just have to look after myself. I live alone as I feel unable to share my chaotic life. I am intelligent and creative and usually sociable. Christianity has helped me too. I try to count my blessings, and Natasha is one of them! Before I discovered Healthy Place, I'd not "met" co-sufferers outside my family. Who can judge if I live "WELL"? Natasha's critic seems materialistic and lacking in empathy. Maybe he is jealous of her drive and her talent. Ignoramus!
These kind of attitudes about bipolar spring from both organised groups and from individuals on their journey to acceptance. It's not easy to accept bipolar, and some people look for, or create elaborate alternatives. The difficult ones are the ones who 'project' onto others.
It's easy to get caught in the trap of bipolar denialism. Even though I've been dealing with it for years now I went to a therapist who was a denialist herself. She encouraged me to come down off my medication and I landed in hospital.
Since trying a handful of medications and hopefully settled on one now, with ongoing therapy my life is slowly becoming and functional behind the scene as I manage to make it look out in the open.
I usually manage to get out of the house twice a week dress with make up to go to my part time job, the other 5 days... not so good. These are the days I hide and this is why people find it hard to believe that I have something "wrong" with me at all, many of my family think perhaps I am being a show off. They can't see the self loathing in your head, they can't hear the repetitive nature of your thoughts, they don't see you on day 3, showerless, still in your pyjamas or signing up to goodness knows which volunteer group, online course and relentlessly googling every single little twinge in your body... people that don't believe in mental health conditions are lucky enough not to be affected by one!
Thank you for your letter about Living Well with Bipolar. Some days living well means I did not act up on the thought to commit suicide, some days living well means I spend a good day with my family, some days it means I worked in my yard, some days it means I dream of the days when I was an actively employed Social Worker and wish I could return to the work force.
Yeah, folks, it's kinda like THAT.
Thank you again. Sandy