I Can’t Accept Bipolar Is Making Me Sick
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 17 years ago and, yet, I still can’t accept the fact that bipolar makes me sick on a daily basis. When the bipolar symptoms come, my natural inclination is to deny them, or at least deny that they are caused by a brain illness. I want to think to myself that I’m just having a bad day or I didn’t sleep well last night or I’m coming down with something. I want to think that something normal and transient is causing my symptoms. I don’t want to think it’s something out of my control and long-lasting. Even with all my experience, my mind still doesn’t want to accept that my bipolar is the thing making me sick.
Sick with Bipolar on a Daily Basis
Look, I’ll level with you, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t suffer with bipolar symptoms. Sometimes they are okay, sometimes they are grave and sometimes they are somewhere in the middle but every day some symptom or another (or many) are there. I am never free of bipolar. Ever.
And I know, from the core of my being, what is bipolar and what isn’t (and what’s a medication side effect). I know that the depression, the sadness, the crying, the beating myself up, the self-hatred, the guilt and so much more is bipolar depression. I know it. But, then, why can’t I accept being sick because of bipolar.
Why I Can’t Accept Bipolar Making Me Sick
I know why. There are two reasons: time and control.
The first is time. I have been sick with bipolar for so long I don’t care to think about it and I will be sick with bipolar until the day I die. That’s just the way it’s going to be for me unless some unprecedented remission were to sit on my lap and start to wiggle. And that is a very difficult thing to accept. It’s tough enough to know that you’re going to be sick with the flu for four weeks in the wintertime when you get the latest bug and it’ll knock you down all the time but thinking that you’re going to be beat up by an illness for your lifetime? That’s nearly impossible to fathom. And if I admit that I’m sick because of bipolar then I have to admit that I likely will be for many decades to come. I do not like this idea.
And secondly there is the idea of control. While none of us have control over illnesses, whether it be the flu, cancer or anything else, one likes to think that one can control one’s brain. It’s part of being a sentient being, isn’t it?
Well, no, as it turns out it isn’t. Controlling our minds is one thing but controlling the infinitely complex, physical organ of the brain is as impossible as controlling how your liver filter toxins from your body. I would never expect to be able to control that and yet I feel the need to control my brain. And if I admit that I’m sick with bipolar then I also must admit that I cannot control my very own brain. I do not like this idea either.
Acceptance of the Sickness of Bipolar Is a Process
I’ve said before that acceptance of bipolar is a process and I meant it. You can know you have bipolar disorder long before you accept it and I can know that bipolar disorder is making me sick long before I can accept that fully too. My logic faculties are working fine, there is just some sliver of my mind that really, really doesn’t want to believe it. I want to believe I’m like everyone else. I do not want to believe I’m disabled. I don’t want to believe that so much of me is incapacitated by misfiring circuits. I don’t want to believe that I have been struck by the wrath of mental illness. I don’t want to believe that I’m sick from bipolar disorder.
But I really have to. I really have to at least admit to this reality even if I’m in the process of accepting it because without admitting it, I can’t fight the bipolar that’s interrupting my everything. And let’s face it, the more we fight the more control we can exert over bipolar disorder in the forms of treatment and coping skills. So no matter how much I don’t want to admit to sickness, I must. In order to make it less powerful. In order to make me more powerful. In order to facilitate wellness.
Image by thediamondintherough.
Header image by James Palinsad.
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.