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.
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.