Bipolar Disorder Is NOT an Emotional Illness
Bipolar disorder is not an emotional illness. Our mood swings are the result of chemicals in our brains––not because of the way we are.
When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 31, a friend of mine said, “Wow, now maybe you can deal with your problems!” I remember being very shocked by what she said. I didn’t see myself as someone with problems. Instead, I was often confused and couldn’t figure out why I was fine and felt like myself on some days and then became someone I truly didn’t know on other days. The diagnosis gave me answers to why I had been up and down since age 16, often with nothing happening in my life to justify such terrible depression, irritation, and elation.
Knowing that what I experienced was bipolar disorder helped me see that the “emotional” reactions I had in response to every day events were not from a personal shortcoming. The emotions were not a sign that I had trouble in life. They were a sign I was ill. This is why I can easily say . . .
I don’t believe that bipolar is emotional.
Our symptoms look emotional, but they are actually chemical. There is no reality to my mania. I am not a goddess. Just as there is no reality to my thoughts that I think I should be dead. In my opinion, this is an illness. It has nothing to do with the real me. It has nothing to do with how I was raised or what I have experienced in life. I was born with it just as a person is born with diabetes. Being miserable and having energy at the same time when you have bipolar is simply dysphoric mania. Yet another mood swing.
No mood swing is about who we are.
Mood swings are chemical.
We can trigger these mood swings––that is for sure––but for the majority of us, they simply show up one day and we can’t figure out why. Our job, in my opinion, is to manage our lives so that bipolar has minimum impact.
I am not this illness. It is not me.