Recognizing the Real, Bipolar You and Not the Idealized You

Recognizing the Real, Bipolar You and Not the Idealized You

I realize I need to recognize the real me who has bipolar disorder and not the idealized me that, theoretically, does not. What I need to recognize, to deal with, is the me of today and not the me before bipolar disorder or the me of five years ago. Things change. I have changed dramatically and what I’m capable of has changed too. I need to recognize this in everyday life. I need to work with the current, real, bipolar me and not the me I wish I were.

What Is the Idealized Version of Me?

We all have an idealized person of ourselves. My idealized me works eight hours a day, exercises three times a week, eats healthy food and doesn’t have bipolar episodes. You probably realize this isn’t reasonable. Our idealized selves often aren’t even reasonable on a consistent basis for those without bipolar disorder, let alone for someone with. But we all have this idealized version of ourselves in our minds anyway.

What Is the Real, Bipolar Me?

The real, bipolar me is the me that exists today and not the me that I wish existed. It’s the me that has way too many bipolar episodes. It’s the me who despises exercise. It’s the me that eats too much ice cream. It’s the me that can’t work eight hours a day. It is the wildly imperfect me that I really have to deal with.

Recognizing the Real, Bipolar Me

This means that I need to accept the limitations of the real me with bipolar disorder, living the life I live today. I can’t pretend I’m a normal, average person. I can’t pretend I’m the person I was 10 years ago. I can’t pretend that just because I want something, I can have it.

I used to be the kind of person that would never shy away from a challenge. Whatever you put in front of me, I would conquer. (Well, except, say, exercising. I never did that.) I was a person who believed in going with the flow and just taking advantages as they came along – no real planning needed.

But I can’t do that anymore. I can’t just take an opportunity because it presents itself. I have to consider whether the opportunity truly fits into my life and whether I can truly do it thanks to my current experience of bipolar disorder. While my reflex action is just to take more and more and more on, I can’t do that if I want any degree of wellness.

Recognizing the Real, Bipolar Me in the Workplace

This video talks about how I had to recognize my own limitations thanks to bipolar disorder and turn down a recent opportunity.

So no matter what is in front of me, I need to break it into pieces I can actually eat and pass over the things that I just can’t. This is extremely hard for me. I hate it. I want to be the person I used to be. I want to be stronger. I want to be more resilient.

But I’m not.

I have to admit it to myself before I can engage in a lifestyle that actually encourages my wellness. And I have to not judge myself for it. I’m not like everyone else. And that’s something I must recognize and must take into account every day.

(Thanks to brilliant writer Julie Fast for starting a conversation about something similar.)


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.

Natasha’s New Book

Find more of Natasha’s work in her new book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. Media inquiries can be emailed here.


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