THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH HER. I SWEAR SHE’S BIPOLAR”
I cannot tell you how often I have heard this, how often people use the words bipolar and manic as though they were describing the weather. It has become a quick easy way to belittle someone; a means of standing in judgment of another and feeling superior. It usually gets more than just a few laughs.
A woman stressed out from trying too hard to manage marriage, work, and home comes into the office irritated and is short tempered with those around her. The next day after a good night sleep and some self-care she handles work as though she doesn’t have a care in the world. Such a change in attitude…she must be bipolar.
If only it was that simple. If being bipolar meant that on some days you were extremely happy and engaging and on other days you were a little irritated. If only……but it’s not.
Bipolar depression sets in like a heavy fog that robs your vision. All you are left with is what you can see within yourself; the vision of pain and sadness. It is not rational. It does not care who you are, where you live, or what you do for a living. Its only purpose is to trap you in a mind space of defeat leaving you powerless to move through the fog and into the sunlight. It is unlike ordinary sadness, it does not want to help you express loss, fear, or disappointment so that you can move into a new space of acceptance. It never wants to release you.
Bipolar mania picks you up like a tornado and throws you into the wind. It pretends to be your friend cajoling you to come along for the ride. It has no boundaries, no pause, and no reason. It keeps you moving so you don’t notice what a destructive force it is. Like the tornado, when it’s done with you it leaves you to repair the wreckage of your heart and soul. Mania is not the occasional exuberance you may feel on a beautiful day when everything is going great. It is the lie that tells you that you can do anything.
If people truly knew the pain of bipolar depression and bipolar mania maybe they would not be so inclined to use those terms to describe a person’s natural emotions and expression of self.