I suppose you could consider me one of the lucky ones. I developed the disorder at an early age and eventually developed ways to better cope with symptoms. I can even hide my condition from people that aren’t around me much—although it’s likely easier for me than others because I also have anthrophobia (pathological fear of human company and social situations) and thus avoid gatherings.
What jumped out at me while reading Kristin Ohlson’s Unravelling man is this: “I had wanted to reach through the phone and shake the people at the many treatment centres who told me they were releasing him because he wasn’t a danger to himself. Wasn’t the wreck he’d made of his life dangerous enough?”
On the face of it, yes. Because no matter how well you believe you are coping, you sometimes are not. Your brain is permanently hard-wired for extreme mood shifts. Your ability to function on any given day, a crap shoot. Ultimately, however, the answer to Kristin’s question has to be “no.” If those of us who are bipolar cannot live “normally” all of the time, would you deny us the right to live at all?
I’ve been bipolar roughly 54 years. I’m the happiest person on the planet. And the most utterly, impossibly sad. But I see the world in colors and sighs you would never understand, and they inspire me. So Kristin, you do what you can for the people you care about. What you safely, sanely can. Then accept that not all of us will have a happy ending.
(illustration by jo in hyuk)