In addition to feeling out of place, I compounded the problem by comparing myself to just about everyone else. It seemed that either I was “crazy” or I just didn’t measure up. I worried that I would never get into college, and, if I did, that my brain-based disorder would preclude me from actually attending.
Bitterness & Feeling Limited by Bipolar
I stayed in this pity party for a long time.
Sitting in the lobby of my psychiatrist’s office, I would dread the inevitable talk about more and more medications. My friends weren’t on mood-stabilizing medication, and they all seemed so happy and successful.
When I was in the hospital, I was resentful of the medical students, too. I wanted to know why they were stable enough to go to medical school, why they didn’t have a serious mental illness that wreaked such havoc on their lives.
But I hated being such a bitter person, and comparing myself to almost everyone I encountered was becoming a burden I couldn’t manage anymore.
Again, Facebook turned into an obsession of comparisons. My daily feed showed my friends going to graduate school, getting married, and having babies. But my main activities were seeing doctors and swallowing handfuls of medication throughout the day.
I wanted what everyone else had, but it seemed like my bipolar disorder was getting in the way of me having a happy, productive life.
Perceptions & Highlight Reels
Until I started to put things into perspective. Just because you see people smiling and looking happy online doesn’t mean that’s representative of their reality. Everyone has problems, whether they are coping with a mental health condition like bipolar disorder or not.
My friends might not have been advertising it, but they were having miscarriages, flunking out of college, and breaking up with their significant others.
Suddenly, bipolar didn’t seem so bad, when you look beneath the surface.
But it still takes a lot of effort to not compare myself to my friends and family. And, sometimes, it seems like almost everyone else is more successful than me. I wonder if they have figured out the secret to life, and I am still putzing around, taking medications, and trying to figure out how big a role my bipolar disorder is going to play in the day-to-day reality of my life.
Bringing Bipolar into Focus
In the end, bipolar is an illness. Sometimes, it seems to color nearly every other aspect of my life. I often wonder if I should have children since I might pass along the “crazy gene.” I don’t want to miss out on being a mother, as I see all the joy my friends are getting out of being parents.
So, I have to adjust my life a little bit. Or maybe a lot.
I’m coping on a day-to-day basis with a brain-based mood disorder that can sometimes distort reality. An illness that has sent me on a roller-coaster ride full of mood swings that get in the way of my success.
But bipolar disorder has enriched my life in a way that many other experiences could not. It has made me an authentic person and enhanced my creativity.
I have a different timeline than most people—and that’s okay.
It took me many years to graduate college, and I was so jealous of my classmates who did it in only four. But to live with bipolar, you have to give up on these “rules” society imposes upon us.
Because of my mood disturbances, school was hard for me. But, I did get through it, and I probably learned a lot more about life than my friends who graduated “on time.”
And, maybe, in the end, there is no timeline at all. I have learned that I can only do my best. There will be others who are better than me in so many ways. They may be better at school, better writers, or whatever. But part of living and growing with bipolar disorder is knowing what is me and what is the illness.
When I compare myself to others, this whole essential process about identity and bipolar gets distorted. Everyone has problems, even those friends of mine who seem so happy on Facebook.
It’s a Process
Bipolar disorder has also shown me that I need to live on a day-by-day basis. This also means not spending so much time on social media comparing myself to my friends and acquaintances.
Bipolar is teaching me life lessons that I couldn’t learn in the classroom or from some of the other experiences my friends are having. You don’t need to go to medical school and become a doctor to learn about the value of hard work, for example.
I just want to be me, however that comes out. I am sure that I will always spend a little extra time on Facebook reading about what everyone is up to, but I’m getting to the point where I can be happy and delighted for all their accomplishments and achievements, their joys and exciting announcements.
And I’m starting to feel more comfortable in my own skin, happy to be me.
Social media sites and apps can provide necessary connections and offer entertainment; they can also enable isolation and masking stability while denying bipolar depression or mania. Social Media Status: Complicated I have a love/hate relationship with social media. On one hand, I’ve found plenty of old acquaintances and reconnected with them—even met for the first...
Hindsight is 20/20. Even so, I showed signs of a mood disorder early in life, and denying them did not help. Bipolar Moods in Childhood & Adolescence Looking back at my childhood and adolescent years, I can see that bipolar was lurking around every corner: There were the withdrawn, depressive moods, and a whole lot...
It starts with identifying our needs and communicating them clearly, so we can keep our mood stable and enjoy the festivities. We can create a holiday plan that serves us for years to come, starting now. Let’s focus on what we need and how we want to feel during every holiday season. It’s possible to...
Offering your adult children with bipolar the choice to meet your needs (or not) is a first step to creating a peaceful home. Understanding the “Hijacked House” & Bipolar Disorder My post called “The ‘Hijacked House’: Tips for Parents of Adult Children with Bipolar Disorder Living at Home” addresses questions about how to handle an adult...