Bipolar – I Just Want to Be Like Everyone Else
I was sitting in my living room today starting at the wall. I spend a surprisingly large amount of time staring at the wall. It’s not that my walls are even vaguely interesting, it’s just that I spend a lot of time depressed and when depressed, even considering watching TV seems overwhelming.
And I was sitting there, depressed, staring at the wall, and the thought occurred to me: I just want to be like everyone else. I just want to go back to a time when walls were just the things you painted and not sources of non-entertainment. I just want to go back to a time when I couldn’t define bipolar disorder and psych medications were something I would never even have considered. I just want to go back to a time when I was just like everyone else.
Bipolars Aren’t Like Everyone Else
But when was this time? When was this magic time when I was like everyone else? Even before there were doctors and pills and therapists there were symptoms. Even before there were hospitals and clinics and offices there were problems. Even before I figured out why I wasn’t like everyone else I knew that I was.
So was there really a time when I was like everyone else?
I think not. I think that I’m romanticizing the past and my faulty human memory is just making it seem like there was a time when things were shiny and bright. For me, things were quite often terribly dull and dark.
And I think a lot of people with bipolar disorder are in this boat. I think a lot of people with bipolar disorder can think back, even into childhood, and see the warning signs of bipolar disorder nipping at their heels. I think a lot people just weren’t like everyone else ever.
Wanting to Be Like Everyone Else, Be Normal, is Understandable
And this desire to be like everyone else, this desire to be normal, is completely understandable. When I see happy people I want to be like them. When I see joyful couples laughing at the beach with their little toddler in tow, I want to be like them. When I see people who I’m sure have never heard of antipsychotic medication, I want to be like them.
It’s okay to want this. It’s normal, if you will, to want to be like everyone else.
All the Greats Were Not Like Everyone Else
But perhaps it serves us well to remember that all the greats were not just like everyone else because if they were, they would not have stood out and been so great. Many of those greats were different and horribly pained individuals some of which proved as much by taking their own lives. These people were different and that is why we remember them.
Now I’m not saying that I’m great and I’m not saying that you are either, I’m just saying that not being like everyone else is sometimes the thing that set you apart from others and makes you noteworthy.
I’m Not Like Everyone Else, Okay
And even if it doesn’t, even if the only thing it does is make you feel like a freak and make you feel alone, consider this: adolescents are under a huge pressure to conform to a peer group and many of them do not. And when these adolescents come home, crying, because they’re not like everyone else, parents assure them that it’s okay to be themselves. It’s okay to be different. Being different can be a virtue. Being different means being who they are. And one day that will become clear to them. One day their adult mind will recognize that not wearing the right brand of jeans doesn’t matter and doesn’t diminish their self or social worth.
And we must come to the same conclusion. We must realize that our differences – profound they may be at times – do not diminish us and there is no need to be like everyone else. Because if you give in to this notion of being like everyone else all you do is put pressure on yourself and give strength to unhappiness because you will never be like everyone else. Not ever.
So the desire to be like everyone else is seductive. But it’s not me. I like being the girl with electric hair. I like being the one who’s a little inappropriate. I like being the one that people remember when I leave a room. I don’t like the bipolar part, but the difference part I can accept. I wouldn’t be me any other way.
About Natasha Tracy
Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.