Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder (I really hate the name) has caused me to have an identity crisis. How much of this is the disorder, and how much of it is just me, my personality? How do I know the difference? Some of the side effects could just be personality characteristics. Ive always been impulsive. But am I really impulsive? Or is that just a side effect of the disorder? What am I? Am I an introvert? I think so. But Ive had people literally laugh in my face when Ive said this. You are SO an extrovert, Ive been told. So then Im confused. Am I?
I dont think its normal for a thirty-something woman to not know who she is. I feel like most of my friends have a strong sense of self so why dont I? I think this disorder complicates things. I think getting diagnosed with anything probably does. You read this list of criteria that accompanies the disorder, and say wholeheartedly, Oh yeah; thats definitely me. But I want to know who the REAL me is how much of this is me and how much would change if I didnt have this diagnosis?
From talking to several people and reading various accounts of those with a bipolar diagnosis, I dont feel that mine is even close to the most severe cases. But I dont know. Im the one in my head, and they in theirs. How do any of us ever really know?
I think part of the identity crisis lies within the disorder, for sure. I think Im both extremes, depending upon the day I also exhibit characteristics of borderline personality disorder, which overlaps bipolar symptoms in many ways. That might be where the extremism comes in, too. Its hard for me to do or see anything halfway. If Im shopping, I either buy nothing, or spend all my money. I dont use a tanning bed anymore, because I cant just tan a little once I start. I need to tan ten hours a day if Im doing it at all. If Im doing anything, I want to do it all or nothing. Im either shy and not talking to anyone, or Im the girl dancing on a table, not caring who sees me. (This has happened much less often since Ive quit drinking.) I also know I have an addictive personality but I just wish I had a stronger sense of myself sometimes. I think I let the diagnosis cloud my assessment. One of the truest ways we define ourselves is through the observations and opinions of others, and in that case, Ive been described as everything, from one end of the spectrum to the other. And maybe it doesnt even matter if I dont know who I am yet maybe its a lifelong process.
Maybe its just me.