Day 08: What do you dislike most about the disorder?
You’d think this question would be an easy one to answer. That after a lifetime of suffering from a debilitating mental illness, I would have a cavalcade of reasons to hate the illness, but if truth be told, I don’t. I’ve long accepted my suffering of bipolar affective disorder, I’ve long come to terms with the ups and downs the illness forces on my mood and I’ve long tolerated the limitations it places on my life. I fail to see why I should dislike a particular aspect of the illness, because there is ultimately nothing I can do about it. Me hating something about the disorder will do nothing for my suffering and will do nothing to change the lot I have been given in life. It just seems like a complete waste of my time and energy to hate something I can do nothing about; which is quite surprising coming from me, given how critical I hold myself in all other areas of life.
Sure I’m not a fan of the volatile, and at times violent, mood swings. Nor am I a fan of the grandiose thinking or immortal God inducing manic phases. And I’m certainly not a fan of the crippling, almost impossible to survive intact, depressive episodes. But what can I do about it?
It would be true to say that I also dislike society’s stigmatization of bipolar affective disorder. That everyone who suffers from the illness is a psychotic, insane crazy person who isn’t to be trusted or seen as a functioning member of the human race. That we are lesser human beings, unworthy of being loved and/or cared about by another individual. I also dislike the grotesque stereotyping that we are all creative geniuses because of our bipolar alone, or that, because Stephen Fry is bipolar, we must all somehow be exactly like him. If truth be told, I dislike society’s view of bipolar more than I do any particular aspect of the illness, it’s insulting, degrading and hardly conducive toward creating mental health parity.
Perhaps it’s because I accept the bipolar more than I do my other mental illnesses, perhaps it’s because in the grand scheme of things it hasn’t affected my life in the way PTSD or social anxiety has, but for the love of me I just can’t bring myself to dislike the disorder, or any particular aspect of it.
Does that make me a terrible person?