Let’s talk about bipolar, again. Let’s talk about it openly and at length until EVERYONE who has it feels free to talk about it with the people in their lives.
Because when people don’t talk about it, they don’t treat it, they don’t manage it, and people get hurt. And people with untreated bipolar don’t just hurt themselves.
Let’s talk about how hard it is to stay in treatment because of the very nature of the disorder. When we’re manic, we think there’s nothing to treat. When we’re depressed, we think nothing will help or we aren’t worth treating.
Let’s talk about drugs and side effects; about taking pills when you wake up and pills to go to sleep; and about how much it sucks but, then again, how much better the pills are than losing control and doing stupid shit or getting paranoid or psychotic or violent; how much better the pills are than alienating everyone, again.
Let’s talk about inpatient and outpatient and insurance and psychiatrists and therapists and counselors and CBT and DBT and EMDR and all the talk therapy and journaling and tracking and pain in the ass bullshit we go through to figure out how to keep ourselves in check.
Let’s talk about eating and exercising and sleeping being aspects of a treatment plan instead of just normal parts of living. And how it does get better when you get the right mix but it never goes away.
Bipolar is forever.
Let’s talk about triggers: the ones based in trauma and stress and the more inexplicable ones, like how the cashier raising her left eyebrow can set off a week-long, month-long, season-long depression where we have to fight every day to stay alive.
Let’s talk about trying to live some semblance of a normal life. Let’s talk about the chaotic résumés and checkered pasts, the bad decisions and their enduring and expensive consequences. Let’s talk about trying to hold down a job, maintain relationships, raise kids, care for others when taking care of ourselves can be its own full-time job.
Let’s talk about the embarrassment and the shame and the guilt we feel when things get out of control. And about how it’s easier to isolate than to expose ourselves to the inevitability of fucking up and facing up to having made a mess of things again. But isolation makes it so much easier to stop following the treatment plan.
The more we talk about it, the less we isolate and the more likely we are to stick to the plan.
Let’s talk about feeling powerless, about feeling helpless in the face of an unpredictable brain. Not knowing from day to day who’s gonna be at bat; not knowing if we can trust ourselves to make rational decisions.
Let’s talk about not wanting to talk about it, because it might scare people away, because it might mean losing our jobs, because it feels unexplainable, because it feels like a failure and hurts to talk about. Because talking about it makes it too real.
Let’s talk about denial.
Let’s talk about how bipolar takes a different shape in everyone who has it.
Let’s talk about it until people can’t remember why we didn’t talk about it; until we aren’t afraid of our employers finding out we have bipolar; until people understand, if not what it’s like, at least what we need them to; until we are accepted as we are by others and by ourselves; until we recognize that we can both manage a mental illness and thrive.
Let’s talk about bipolar until people stop getting hurt.