It’s my birthday. I’m 37 today. I have lived with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder for eight years. In that time, literally almost every permutation of the disease has been applied to my particular state. Early-onset but undiagnosed. Cyclothymia. Bipolar II. Bipolar I. Rapid Cycling. Mixed states. I have no idea what I have, just that it’s my birthday and I ought to be happy, but because I’m not one of those lucky people who get to go years between episodes I feel like I’m hanging on to the edge of a cliff by my fingernails. I’m not happy about it, because I don’t want to be in the middle of an episode and I don’t like to mess up my fingernails—ever.
So why would I hang on, hang in there, keep trying and get up to take my son to school and go to a job which I frankly hate? I hang on because I need to. I hang on because I want to. My hands are tired from hanging here. My brain is tired from the dips and swings it’s been taking. But I have the loving arms of my husband and son, and the loving paws of my dog to come home to every evening. I’m not ready to let go. etting go would mean bipolar had beaten me. So even when I behave in embarrassing ways and feel like I can’t do it anymore I keep going. I dig my now ragged nails in and try to pull myself back onto solid ground. I make a doctor appointment, go back on something I’d rather not need to take.
I hang on and hang in because I’d prefer to make it another year with all the wonderful people in my life. And I’d prefer not to let something like bipolar beat me. My fingernails will recover, and I have faith that I will too.