Feeling Like a Failure When You Fight Bipolar and Lose
Every day I fight bipolar disorder. I have to because every day my bipolar disorder requires fighting. Every day, bipolar disorder is at the forefront of my mind. Every day, I have to do all the things that are required to improve (or at least maintain) my mental health. Every day, I have to fight the bipolar depression that makes me exhausted and upset. Every day, I have to focus on medication and schedules and sleep. Every day, every day, every day.
And my reward for all of these fighting and fighting and fighting of the bipolar disorder? If I’m lucky, it’s the reward of not being sick. If I’m lucky, my reward is feeling like one of the normals for one day – a way that other people feel without putting any work into it at all.
And if I’m not lucky? My reward is just another day with illness, with me expending hopeless amounts of energy in a seemingly-impossible fight to stay alive.
Fighting Bipolar and Feeling Like a Failure
It’s so often that I use all my coping skills and all my weapons to fight the bipolar disorder only to find that it has done no good at all. I’m still unbelievably depressed. I’m still immovably exhausted. I still can’t work the hours I want. I still have to spend too much time resting. I still can’t get the things done I need to. I just feel like, even though I fight so hard, I get nowhere. It’s like treading water – you never actually get anywhere but if you’re lucky you just don’t drown.
It feels pointless. It feels like failure. And it feels unfair. It feels unfair to put in so much work and effort only to see the reward of getting nowhere. I feel like the laziest person on the planet. I feel like the most futile. I feel like the least successful.
What is Success When Fighting Bipolar Disorder?
The thing is, I know I have to adjust my expectations when it comes to the definition of success with bipolar disorder. I have written about it again and again and I know what success with bipolar looks like. It looks like taking a shower. It looks like grocery shopping. It looks like writing an article for a client. It looks like getting out of bed. I know that’s the deal with bipolar. I know the deal is tiny goals. I know the deal is tiny wins. I know the deal is downsizing expectations to teensy, achievable tasks. It’s just that all of this feels like failure when compared to what I actually want to do.
What I want is to achieve actual things. What I want is good days. What I want is a day where I don’t expend every ounce of energy just writing one article – I want a good day where I write five, or even ten – you know, the number required to make a living. Basically I want the life stolen by the bipolar back and anything less just feels like tedious, monotonous, incremental failure.
Getting Over the Feeling of Failure When Fighting Bipolar
I think the only thing to do, though, is to just get over it. Part of the feeling of failure comes from the bipolar depression itself – I know that – and the only thing you can do with the lies that depression tells you is just to get over them. Ignore them. Fight them with logic. Stand up and shout them down.
Because, as I recently stated, bipolar is a disability like any other and fighting it – and even losing – isn’t a failure, it’s actually success. It’s not giving in to a foe that is so often bigger than you are. It’s fighting something that’s actually trying to kill you, so not dying? That’s a pretty big deal.
But in saying all of that, I am tired. I am tired of what it takes out of me and I’m angry that I have to do it at all. Normal feelings given the course of a lifelong, debilitating illness but still wholly unpleasant, to say the least.
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.