Guest Post: What it’s like to be Bipolar by Sherry

delsherryPlease don’t ever take your mental health for granted.  You have no idea what it is like to have every thought, behavior, and emotion questioned by those around you.  Sherry sure is laughing a lot — she might be manic.  Sherry seems a little down today — she might be depressed.  Sherry is angry at me — she must be sick again.  I can have NO legitimate feelings, because they are all questioned if they are the least bit different.  If I have an argument with a person, my anger is never viewed as legitimate.  Instead, “she’s getting sick again.”  I have a good productive day — “she’s getting manic.”

How wonderful it must be for “normal” people.  To not be second-guessed at every turn.  Can you imagine what it would be like to never be taken seriously?  Because it might be Sherry’s “illness talking.”  If I have a differing opinion — “Sherry’s not thinking straight.”

This can’t be my life.  What in the heck did I ever do to deserve this?  All I want is to be treated like everyone else.  If you have a problem with me, come to ME.  Don’t pull a family member or friend aside and say, ” I wish she hadn’t done that.”  If you are concerned about me, tell ME.  Yes, I am fragile, but  I DO take into consideration what others think.

How wonderful it must be to have a “legitimate” illness — like diabetes, or heart disease — where others don’t look at you and think, “Sherry just needs to get over it.”  “She could get well if she really wanted to.”  When you have a mental illness, it is viewed not as a medical problem, but as a personality flaw.  A character weakness.

The truth?  I AM more fragile than most people.  I DON’T bounce back from emotional pain as well as other people.  I feel hurt much more deeply than most.  It’s all part of my illness, and it stinks.

This  bipolar disorder has robbed me of friends, relationships, children, a career, and a decent self-image.  I hate myself — why shouldn’t everyone else?  I can’t even remember the last time I felt glad that I was even born.  Every time I get better, I am haunted by the thought of “how long will I be okay this time?”  Three years?  Three months?  Imagine the most horrible time in your life, and knowing that it will happen to you again and again and again.

Imagine being held responsible for things you said and did when you were sick that you had absolutely no control over.  Knowing that even though people say, “I know you didn’t mean it” — that they will ALWAYS remember.  And knowing that every time you get well again, you have to apologize to everyone you harmed while sick — EVEN though you weren’t in control.  It’s not my fault that I’m bipolar, but yet I am blamed for every hurtful thing I said and did when I was sick.

Do I sound bitter?  Absofreakinlutely.  I didn’t ask for this.  I don’t deserve this.  This can’t be what my life was supposed to be like.  But everyone has something, and this just happens to be MY cross to bear.  So I will cry into my pillow, begging God to either take this cross, or take my life.  Either way, it’s a win-win.  I have had wonderful happy times in my life, but the good times were NEVER as good as the bad times were bad.

I don’t want pity.  I want understanding.  I want compassion.  I don’t want my emotions, behaviors, or thoughts questioned every time they are somewhat different from the mainstream.  I have been very angry this week for personal reasons, and I had every right to be angry.  But instead of letting me be pissed off, because I have a RIGHT to my emotions, my anger is viewed as “irrational” or “unwarranted”.  I will ALWAYS have people questioning me.  I will ALWAYS have people that see me as “crazy”.  I will ALWAYS have people talk about me behind my back.  But I sure as hell don’t have to like it.  I want to live as normal a life as possible.  I want the RIGHT to FEEL and THINK and ACT, and be taken seriously.

Now you have a glimpse of what it’s like to be bipolar.  I wouldn’t wish one day of that hell on my worst enemy.

About Michelle Clark Bipolar Bandit

I am a strong advocate for the mentally ill and have been since I was first approached by a lawyer in a psychiatric facility as a teenager. He wanted me to help him fight how the mentally ill are mistreated. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 17 after a full blown manic episode. Before that, I suffered from debilitating depression for 4 years. My goals are to help others by sharing my story and providing tips to deal with mania and depression. I often write blogs related to advocating for people like myself. I want to encourage, inspire, and educate those with #bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses and also include inspirational #quotes. I founded the group Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses and the page Mental Health Advocates United and have several social media sites that are related to bipolar disorder and/or advocacy. If you are an advocate or would like to be, I hope you join our FB group: Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses
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4 Responses to Guest Post: What it’s like to be Bipolar by Sherry

  1. missbootoyou says:

    Wow, I could have written this myself! I feel what you’re feeling, I really do! So much.x

  2. Sherry Lovett Tucker says:

    When I wrote this, years ago, I was going through a very rough time, and I had every right to be angry and bitter. It took me almost 25 years to stop being bitter. I used to think of my life as what I did IN SPITE OF my illness. It always seemed like this huge stumbling block. I thought “If only I wasn’t sick, I could do so much more with my life.” Then one day, I had this huge epiphany. I realized that the difference I had made in other people’s lives wasn’t IN SPITE of my illness, but BECAUSE OF my illness. Through all that hell, I had learned exceptional compassion and understanding for others. I had learned to cherish every single moment that I didn’t spend “sick.” I had learned to see goodness and blessings in things that other people take for granted. I can sit in the rain and love it. When the wind blows, I close my eyes and become part of it. I can cry with a stranger. I feel love for people I don’t even know. Who I am, EVERYTHING I am, is because of what I have experienced. I still hate my illness, because it is painful, unacceptable to many, and separates me from people I love. But at least now I am not bitter. Being bipolar, or having bipolar disorder, sucks — and it sucks royally. But it has taught me so much about life and love and people. Lessons that I would have never learned otherwise. And for that, I am grateful. 🙂

  3. Amanda says:

    This was amazing! I have these thoughts all the time–particularly “what did I do to deserve this?” I am generally a good person and I actually thrive on doing things for people and putting others first. Even when I am hypomanic, the “projects” that I start obsessing on typically focus on others (ie, making lists of job ads for my friends who are looking, helping my sister get everything she needed for her pregnancy and baby.) But my demeanor and words through all of this upsets others. I have watched people around me for years who have done some bad things, or are more self-centered, have successes in friendships, relationships, building a career, and creating a family, all because their life isn’t affected with a disorder that makes social interactions and bondings difficult.

    Like you, my “every day” emotions are questioned as sign that I may be relapsing…to the point that i have started to question it myself.

    Thank you so much for your words. I could not have said it better myself!

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