Fake Bipolar

Posted on December 27, 2005 in Mania

square288I got called a “fake bipolar” by someone who had no clue about my life, what this disease has done to me, what I am striving to get beyond, what I have experienced. In that one word — “fake” — everything I have been through has been disacknowledged and denied. It’s like I never had my childhood, my confusions, my crazy times. I guess I didn’t see my academic career ruined and I didn’t see myself unable to focus on a meaningful worklife. I didn’t try a lot of destructive things that I and my wife seem to remember all too well. I’m a fake bipolar. A poser.

This from the mouth of an eighteen year old.

(Damn, I must have been annoying as all hell when I was that age. To those who I defied unjustly, I am sorry.)

The thing that makes this hard is that I have been examining my moods lately and wondering if I’ve allowed myself to be kidded into believing that I have this condition. The serenity is like an invitation to take a walk across a cerulean-bathed mudflat. “Why are you on the meds? You don’t need them. Obviously you are feeling fine.”

You barely notice when you start to sink.

Some of my kind play “membership” games. One of those games is that real bipolars live their moods to their fullest. In recklessness, alcohol abuse, destruction, and contempt for others these find their identity. It is true that they find the richest understanding in other bipolars. But I won’t ghettoize myself. I have to live in a world with other people who are not bipolar. And a few of them make good friends to have around in the event of an episode.

In my book, what makes you a “member of the club” is that you have the disease. I am also a member of a more exclusive club — that anyone can join if they make a certain agreement: that you seek to be as well as the disease and the meds allow.

My club calls for pragmatism and common sense. I don’t want to spend time with people who get drunk on the disease, thank you.

And yet, here I am, tempted, very tempted, to try to live without my meds. I feel good. I’ve had the best Christmas in years, certainly better than last year. And so the mind preaches two different modes running in opposition to one another: stop taking the meds because it is obvious that you are well versus keep taking the meds because they have made you better.

To believe the former, I conclude, is like insisting that meadows grow without seed.

My bipolar friends — my true friends — will be watching over me.

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