Bipolar disorder is part of my body, and it is also part of my life. So, like paying for an unexpectedly expensive lunch, I have to live with it.
Have you ever been to a restaurant and been shocked by the bill when it arrives? Just the other day, my nephew and I went to a ‘healthy fast food’ Mexican restaurant for some take out food and the bill for the two of us was $27. That is sticker shock.
I get a similar feeling when I think about my bipolar disorder
I have bipolar disorder?
There must be some mistake in the universe’s bill of sale!
I didn’t sign up for this!
This shocked feeling has diminished over the years, but it still shows up regularly. Bipolar disorder is a genetic illness. It’s in my brain. It’s not a virus or a product of my childhood. It’s not a mistaken diagnosis or anything I can change through positive thinking or denying the reality of the illness. It is here no matter what I do. It lives in my brain. It is part of my body. It is part of my life. I had my first symptoms at 16. I am now in my mid 50s. I was finally diagnosed at age 31.
The bill for that food was $27 and I paid it. I have bipolar and I
have to live with it.
Prices are what they are. My life is what it is. What I do with the information is up to me. I can refuse to go back to that restaurant. I can cook at home or I can make more money and afford that bill. What I can’t do is change the price they charge. That is not up to me.
Although this might seem like an odd comparison, I have found that acceptance of high prices is no different than acceptance of my bipolar. I live in a city that is exploding in popularity and the prices are out of control. I live here. Moving is not an option at this time. I have to DEAL with my situation. I spent years complaining about it. A sandwich that used to be $9.95 is now $16.95! In less than six years! This is crazy! This is not fair!
Agreed. It’s crazy and not fair, but it’s reality. I can pull my
hair out over it or accept it. My behavior is not going to change the
I despise bipolar disorder. There is nothing positive about this illness in my opinion. How I manage it can lead to some positives changes in other areas of my life, but the illness itself is a monster. That is just how it is. It’s a freaking $27 dollar fast food meal.
What is your current opinion of this nasty illness?
I am open and honest with myself and others that living with
bipolar is a challenge. I don’t get full relief from medications and I use the
ideas in my books every day. I have absolutely made the most of a bad
situation. Pretending that everything is rosy doesn’t work, but neither does
getting upset and railing against my fate. It is what it is. I have
Julie A. Fast is the author of "Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder," "Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder," "Get it Done When You’re Depressed" and "The Health Cards Treatment System for Bipolar Disorder." She is a columnist and blogger for BP Magazine and won the Mental Health America journalism award for the best mental health column in the US. Julie was also the recipient of the Eli Lily Reintegration award for her work in bipolar disorder advocacy. Julie is a bipolar disorder expert for the Dr.Oz and Oprah created site ShareCare. Julie is CEU certified and regularly trains health care professionals including psychiatric residents, social workers, therapists and general practitioners on bipolar disorder management skills. She was the original consultant for Claire Danes for the show Homeland and is on the mental health expert registry for People Magazine. She works as a coach for parents and partners of people with bipolar disorder. Julie is currently writing a book for children called "Hortensia and the Magical Brain: Poems for Kids with Bipolar, Anxiety, Psychosis and Depression." You can find more about her work at JulieFast.com and BipolarHappens.com.
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