Bipolar isn’t a gift, but maybe, just maybe it can be an enabler

I read a blogpost where a ‘blissfully married, ballet-and-bicycle-obsessed gay intersexed boy’ expresses  his gratitude for his bipolar disorder. I found his blogpost on a really good friend of mine’s blog (The lovely Dyan Harwood), where she voiced her frustration towards the idea of it being a gift and the fact that WordPress endorsed this boy’s opinion.

One can only speak from experience, and maybe his attitude towards what he experienced was a good one- or it’s the way he expresses his life story, but I could never agree that Bipolar disorder is a gift. Never.

Firstly too many suffer, and I don’t mean suffer in the theatrical sense, I mean in the, not-being-able-to-perform-daily-functions-kind-of-suffer. Where one cannot function. You lay awake with trains of nonsensical numbers fly through your mind, you have no control- no control of your body. Anxiety eats you alive. You can’t leave our house. You can’t feed yourself. You can’t take your medication. You can’t shower. You can’t remember the names of your friends.

You can’t.

You can’t.

And then suddenly you can.

You can a lot. You can see behind the hues of every colour, words fly into your mind’s eye and you’re awakened from the death that is the dark.

You breathe in the secret to life.

Sounds glorious, doesn’t it? Yes, the dark days sound bad, but what do these ups and downs, can’s and cannot’s mean in real terms?

In my manic state I could start several business, run two student organisations, co-manage an organisation which held numerous events, be a single parent (not a very good one in my opinion), have numerous boyfriends. You can be very popular.

But you can attempt to kill yourself, more than once. You see your death happen before your eyes all the time, just so that you can stop to constant spinning in your head. Over and over, thoughts and ideas and emotions and words whirl around. You’re sick.

Bipolar disorder enables the creative genius inside to flash its teeth ever so often in different ways- from writing to poetry to starting a business to caring for people to leading. But it can  also take away all the gifts it bestowed upon you. It can take away your “Student of the Year” award your received at the University of Cape Town, it can take away your academic career, leaving you longing for some sort of qualification. It can even take away your friends- you don’t want to speak to anyone, you don’t want to be a burden, because you’re a burden to yourself.

Bipolar disorder can take away the light. And sometimes it can take away your light.

So maybe we can argue that Bipolar is a gift because of all those awards you received and that stroke of genius, everyone loves the taste of.

But of all that crumbles when you couldn’t manage all six business, your studies, your fame. Then, you’re left with voices in your head and no more than a burnt academic record and broken relationships as you couldn’t keep a promise… It’s just you and the illness.

It can quickly take away the very magic that made you, you.

Bipolar disorder is not a gift, it’s an illness- with very real consequences.

Thanks Dyane for the prompt.


9 thoughts on “Bipolar isn’t a gift, but maybe, just maybe it can be an enabler

  1. dyane says:

    Ooooooh, ooooh, I just got up to see you wrote this post and couldn’t resist popping up here for a moment, but I don’t have my usual computer time this morning! 😦 I promise to come back and write an Yve-worthy comment! 😉 In the meantime, I’m tweetin’ it and I send you my love! See you soon!! XO Dy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yve's Corner says:

      🙂 hahaa, can imagine you sippin some coffee, reading a whole lot of tags by Yvette Hess… Not a problem my dear, thanks for the prompt- I’ve been wanting to mention a few things before, like losing so much due to this illness, but this got me to get some of the loss out… BIG SIGH. I hope one day, we as bipolars, win. xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nikki says:

    I too believe that bipolar is a gift…there are periods of genius that I go through that are amazing and which many cannot achieve. I am super intuitive, I am incredibly outgoing (at times). I can command a room with my words alone. I have periods where I experience a natural high that is amazing. I sometimes wish I could transfer that feeling to someone else that could feeling that amazing feeling.

    Now, lets be fair…you do pose a good point when you mention the deep lows, the anxiety that is out of this world. You mentioned thoughts of suicide and other constant thoughts of death. You also said you suffer from insomnia. I do no suffer from thoughts of suicide or insomnia. So as you said, “you can only speak from your experience” and your experience seems to be different from mine.

    Another point I want to make is that if you perhaps look at it from a different perspective you might see it differently. For instance, an athlete…lets just use a boxer (only because it could be a gruesome sport). The heavy weight champion of the world…he is fast on his feet. He hits hard and his body jabs are insane. He is titled as the best boxer in the world and is celebrated for his talents/gifts. Now Joe Boxer trains everyday which might lead to a messy house and backed up laundry. Joe Boxer suffers from anxiety I am sure…imagine fighting in front of millions to retain your title. After the fight Joe Boxer has a bloody nose, bruised ribs, a cut eye and is black and blue for several days. Not to mention head injuries, possible brain damage, etc. Now what if Joe Boxer loses the fight. I am sure he goes into a deep depression. There might even be thoughts of suicide.
    But the question I have is…Is Joe Boxer gifted? Sure he suffers from physical and mental pain. But is he gifted anyway? Sometime the good comes with the bad. Now you could argue that Joe Boxer can walk away…he was not born with an illness. But can he? He has staff to pay, bills to pay, and an image to uphold.

    My last point…so, if you don’t agree that bipolar is a gift and more of a enabling illness, that is how you will live your life. If you look at it as a wonderful gift with some suffering that you may have to endure…then that is how you will live your life.

    I wish you positive thoughts and the ability to embrace your illness as a gift and not be frustrated by that idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yve's Corner says:

      I hear what you’re saying. I think then, in this instance, it will boil down to a matter of perspective. I have lost too much of my life for this to be a gift. The only gift i would admit to having, is being able to articulate how I feel, what I experience- and share it with a greater audience. A gift of being able to connect. I’m trying to look at the balanced view. Also taking into account how this can affect a family, one’s children.
      As much as I hate to compare the two, diabetes, even Cancer, are illnesses. They are not gifts. Bipolar disorder is an illness.

      Even though Bipolar disorder allows you to reach certain highs, these are not healthy ones.
      I believe I am positive. I am also realistic- and would like to portray Bipolar as such. If we communicate this illness as a gift, I’m afraid that many would tread lightly and not seek the help we need, or the seriousness the stigma needs to be eradicated.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bacon Pro says:

    I think the stigma is due to those who believe they are normal. What is normal in this diverse world? Are they the sheep that are led to believe everything they are told? The ones they say are mentally ill may have the genius to be able to see through their deceptive nature. 2 cents is just that and it doesnt go far.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. dyane says:

    Today is my catch-up day in reading my beloved blogs!

    I haven’t even read ANY of the comments that responded to my blog post about “Do YOU think bipolar is a gift” except for the first two! I have to be in a well-rested mood to read the other ones since it’s such a sensitive issue for me & brings up stuff.

    Thanks for calling me lovely in this post, by the way. I can get used to that! 😉

    This post is so incredibly well written, Yve, I’m just sittin’ here trying to keep my jaw from dropping too much as flies will get in. I mean, just the lines:

    “You can see behind the hues of every colour, words fly into your mind’s eye and you’re awakened from the death that is the dark.

    You breathe in the secret to life.”

    Those lines alone are amazing, as well as the overall message/personal story you write about so poignantly, succinctly and eloquently!

    It’s so nice to feel understood by someone who KNOWS what I’m trying to get at.

    You wrote above in response to Nikki’s comment:
    “If we communicate this illness as a gift, I’m afraid that many would tread lightly and not seek the help we need, or the seriousness the stigma needs to be eradicated.”

    YES! That’s what I wanted to express but I couldn’t. I’m so glad you did here.

    We all have a right to see our bipolar disorder as whatever we choose to see it. I look forward to the glorious day when it’s a non-issue, when this evil illness (yes, I consider it evil – call me crazy!) illness is cured. I’m sooooooooooooooo over it! First in living with my father who had bipolar, and who didn’t consider it to be gift despite the fact he was talented more than most people on the planet – and then I got to experience bipolar firsthand having it triggered by childbirth & it took away so much from not just me but my two little ones and husband = so that was about 45 years of my being affected by the agony of bipolar. That’s enough bipolar for anyone, even the “gifters”!

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this post. I’d like to reblog it soon. I don’t usually reblog, but your post is super-reblog-worthy. How cool would it be if your post was picked for Freshly Pressed???? It should be!!!

    Lots of love,
    Dyane “It Ain’t No Gift” Harwood


  5. Eddie Guild says:

    Well as I see it more of a curse than a gift BP 1 with help support and the right medication can bring a situation of stability to a degree or at least put you in a position to cope with most things, that’s probably as good as it gets. The mania may in the sort term be a pleasant high but it does not turn you into a genius you are very likely to do the most ridiculous things particularly when it comes to money. Support of family and friends is key in all this.

    A bigger problem is the stigma that the general public hold for mental illnesses trying to educate people in this regard is a major challenge I do try but if you bring it up as a topic at a dinner party suddenly everyone has to dash home!

    Keep blogging people you add very interesting perspective and depth to the subject.

    Take care 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. eachwayiturn says:

    Good post Yvette with a lot of description that I recognise from my own life. The way I see it is that it is a matter of perspective side rather than anything absolute – the experience of BP can be very individual and change over time.


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