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Self-Image and Bipolar Disorder

From the time we can talk, people begin asking us what we want to be when we grow up. My answers were usually one of the following: ballerina, model, actress, doctor, nurse, painter, art therapist, occupational therapist, photographer, illustrator, writer. I wanted to help people and make the world prettier for the most part. In college, I changed my major like I changed my outfit before a big date – often and always looking for the “perfect” one. More than that, I was looking for that something that would make me happy and feel that my life is worthwhile. But now, thinking about the original question, shouldn’t it be WHO do you want to be when you grow up? That is a whole level deeper, a whole existential debate about what is really important in life. And to confound matters, where does bipolar disorder (or mental illness in general) fit in? 

As an example, I will start with myself (because I know me best). I am not bipolar, but I do have bipolar disorder. I am a wife, a mother, a student, an employee, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a godmother, and an aunt. I am an artist, a writer, an athlete. I am a dreamer. I am an idealist. I am a lover of books and I am always thirsty for knowledge. I am many, many things all at once. Each of us is. 

Sometimes I love myself – I am proud of my flaws and imperfections. I feel strong and unstoppable. Sometimes I loathe myself – all I see is flaws and I feel hopeless. My moods shift with the seasons and sometimes shift without reason. I am dependable and unpredictable at the same time. Staying grounded is not always possible when I have so many thoughts and dreams all at once, but I can find solace in the strength and stability of my family. 

That is all well and good for me. What does that mean for you? How do we each establish a positive self-image when our self-image is constantly morphing? Self-image not only shifts along with moods, it can be influenced by the consequences that accompany our actions. In other words, if we do something not so nice while manic, we still have to live with the repercussions of that action. I have done some pretty bad things while manic and the guilt I felt (and still feel to some degree) has tainted the way I think of myself. But I am not a bad person. I have done some not so nice things, but not with the intent to hurt anyone. When I stabilized, I reached out to the extent I could and did my best to patch up the relationships, or correct the wrongs, or return the purchases. Sometimes it can’t be fixed, it just is – forever. I learn to deal with that, too. Sometimes coping is healing and that is okay. And that makes me who I am. 

But who are we? What does it mean to be? I honestly don’t know if there is one answer. It is different for each of us. And maybe it is not a place to be, maybe it is a path to walk (or run with scissors, depending). Maybe the purpose of life is to do our best each day, one step at a time, dancing with two left feet, because face it, who the heck knows all the moves anyway? We are human. We are alive. We are survivors. We are comedians. We are the writers of our own stories. We are our own choreographers. We just are. And that is enough. Just to be. 

Yes, I have bipolar disorder. I also have brown hair (and a bunch of grays). I have a big heart and a passion for life – even when I am at my lowest depression. I survive each day and do everything I can to make it a good one. Even on the days I feel that I am one big imperfection, that is okay. I am. And tomorrow I will be, too. So I will try to make me the best me and love me either way. If today you are depressed, that’s okay – bipolar disorder gives us ups and downs. Neither lasts forever, but each day you wake up is another day to rejoice in and another day to celebrate yourself. You are incredible. You are a survivor. You are you and that is just what you should be. Who do you want to be when you grow up? I just want to be me!

Read the rest of Beka's posts for IBPF here

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Comments

Great articles Beka! So proud of you! My love to you, Ron & Sam!

Recently within a month I lost to close friends with my rage and words sharp as the Devils tongue... I have tried to fix it but it just gets worse neither one will speak to me anymore, they just ignore me.. Before all this is went off on Facebook and got rid of my class mates and pushed everyone away... Only people I have left is my doctor, my wife,and my 7 year old son.. I suffer from ptsd, Bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, Adhd and a new one from excessive head trauma... Finding out late in my 30's now finding out my son has a few of these issues we see the same doctor... When I was age of 2 I was adopted by my grandparents, my real mom didn't want me anymore she wanted drugs and dope cooks more... Even though I was so young I can remember watching everyone shooting up dope and I was shoved in a dark room with about 3 other kids.. We were fed by someone sliding a plate under the door for all of us to eat from, in the dark made to be quiet.. Many of times someone would make a noise or one of them start crying and door would fly open and I was dragged out beat head to toe with anything they could pick up at the time.. Then pushed back into the dark room with the other shivering kids... I was beat so much I was black and blue and it made me studder... When I move in with the grandparents there was a Child Molester that lived next door always asking the parents if I could come over and give him a hand with a few things and always taking photos of me.. The parents thoughthe he was just gay and a nice old man but I knew better.. I would begin not to go over there but I was forced to go anyways.. After a few years he finally made his move toward me, I told the parents and they thought I was lying they believed him over me... This is some of the things I go to the doctor about, believe me this is just some of what I faced as a child... There is alot more... I am considered to be Borderline Psychotic...

Great article. I relate to it strongly. One of those things that come along at just the right moment thanks for sharing your story

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