Around 5 months ago, I was on the phone with mom and she told me that my brother and her were having a conversation about me and think I should check to see if I was bipolar. This caught me by surprise. They had met someone who was recently diagnosed and their symptoms were similar to mine she said. I shut the phone and got online to start reading about bipolarity. I did seem to have the symptoms but some seemed too excessive. The thought of being bipolar freaked me out because it made me reevaluate my entire life, every decision I made, every relationship I had, and every work experience I had. It even made me reevaluate every piece I wrote and the thought process behind it. Did I do everything I did because I am bipolar?! These thoughts freaked me out.
I did not rush to a psychiatrist. I ignored the discussion and decided to move on but I could not get it out of my mind. After a couple of more discussions, my brother convinced me to see a doctor. I booked an appointment and went in. During my session with the psychiatrist, I did most of the talking giving him a quick glimpse of my life. In his opinion, I had already been ‘shrinking’ myself for a few years which was good and I did seem to have some symptoms but I should see a psychologist regularly to get diagnosed. He referred me to a psychologist who I did start seeing a couple times a week.
When I started seeing my psychologist, I went in feeling defeated and accepting of whatever the diagnosis would be however, when it was pretty clear that I am bipolar I started fighting off the idea and not accepting of it. It was a stigma I could not accept.
There are several levels of bipolarity and I am in the soft level so my symptoms/ mood swings are not extreme. I also had a discussion with my doctors during the early stages that I would rather avoid going on medication. We spent 3 months of intensive therapy during which I learnt more about bipolarity and through experiences I learnt what would trigger my mood swings. I also learnt that I am also both ADD and OCD which is an interesting and unusual mix. Together, we made some lifestyle modifications to ensure better mood stability.
Since I was questioning every move I made in my life wondering if it was due to bipolarity, we dissected every relationship I had, every job I held, every big decision I made and came to the conclusion that they weren’t due to bipolarity. I was relieved. This often is not the case with people who have bipolar, but since I was self-aware of my mood swings, I always had made a point that they do not affect my relationships or major life decisions.
In reality, being both bipolar and OCD helped me achieve so much in my life. During my mania stages, which I seem to have a lot more than depressive states, I tend to be creative and ideas just pop out all over the place. My OCD forces me to complete those ideas with perfection. I don’t look at my bipolarity as a disorder but more as a secret super power especially now that I am aware of it and have it controlled. With my lifestyle modifications and a structured life, I now know when to throw on my bipolarity cape when I am at work and have the creative juices come out.
The reason I am writing this post, is that during the past few months I have had several discussions on the topic and the reactions I have been getting have been shocking. There obviously isn’t much understanding of bipolarity in our society and I can’t blame anyone since 6 months ago, I did not know much about it either. I even was hesitant to write about it because of the stigma around it and was worried about how I would be perceived.
Being bipolar does not change who I am. My bipolarity does not even affect most people, it’s major effect is on myself. I am the person who has the brain that is on constant over drive with emotions constantly pouring out. I can go on and link to a list of some of the world’s most successful and most creative people who are bipolar but really though, what would the point of that be?
If you are bipolar, I want you to know that you are not alone and I am around if you would like to discuss it.