Bipolar – I’ve Forgotten What It Is to Be Normal
I was having a very annoyed/angry day. This was annoying me and then that was pissing me off. And I realized this was a thread through my day and thought to myself, “Yup, I have days like that. It’s a bipolar thing.” And then I wondered, “Do normal people have days where they’re mad at everything?”
And then I realized I had no idea. I have no idea if normal people have irrationally angry days. I’ve forgotten what it is to be normal.
[And before someone has a hissy fit because I’m saying that people with bipolar disorder aren’t normal, please read the linked article.]
Remembering What It is to Be Normal
I haven’t been mental illness symptom-free in, like, forever. The last span of time when I was in an actual, longstanding remission was around age 19 – so, 17 years ago. (I’ve had shorter mostly euthymic periods since then though.) I only vaguely remember what that normalcy was like. I only kind of remember what it is to be normal.
And there’s a problem with that. The problem is, I work very hard at appearing normal to everyone else and that’s hard to do when I’m not sure what normal actually is. Am I allowed to actually be angry for tiny, not-really-good reasons? Or is that, yet another, bipolar thing I have to suppress?
Now, I fall into the category of believing in dismissing anger. I don’t really believe in anger, in general. Anger is always hiding another feeling and you’re much better off to figure out what that feeling is than freaking out in anger.
That being said, sometimes anger is driven by bipolar disorder almost exclusively. While anger is not a diagnostic symptom of bipolar, people with bipolar are angrier and more aggressive than the average person. (Sorry, research bears this out.) So, sometimes underlying the anger is just plain, ol’ bipolar disorder. Not much you can do about that.
Nevertheless, acting out in anger illogically, is not going to be useful to you or those around you.
Bipolar and Normal
But, I suppose, I’ve digressed. As I was saying, I spend a lot of time appearing normal and that’s hard when my memories of normal (pre-bipolar) are so long lost. I feel like I have to do a study on normal people to figure out how I should present to the rest of the world to give me some guidance on the matter.
Does Appearing Normal Matter?
I say, yes, it does matter. It matters because if we want to have healthy interactions with people, we can’t let the bipolar control how those interactions go. If we don’t want to be social pariahs, we need to learn how to get along with people and bipolar acting out doesn’t foster this getting along.
I realize, of course, that acting normal while not feeling normal is not exactly being honest. I get this and sometimes I feel really bad about it. But what I know is that if I don’t apply my logical mind to my illogical bipolar urges, I can’t function day-to-day.
Still, I have to say, approximating normal is tough when you forget what it actually is to be normal. And I’m sad that I can’t remember the pre-bipolar me anymore. I guess she’s been lost to the sands of time. Now, when in a bipolar episode, all I can really do is do my best to approximate who I think she was and is.
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.