My name is Nanieve and my journey with Bipolar 1 Disorder started around the age of twelve. I was also diagnosed with PTSD about two years ago. I am unable to look upon it as a curse, preferring to see it as a blessing. My phoenix wings if you like, my manias have allowed me to rise above the mundane and to achieve creative ecstasy I would exchange for nothing on earth.
I prefer to look upon my Bipolar Disorder as a challenge, rather a “dragon” that is mine to ride and master. I alone can direct its course. I alone can steer it in a positive direction.
I believe that knowledge is power. I make sure I know my disease and myself. In this way I try to take my medication and carefully monitor changes in my moods.
I refuse to become my disease. I hold onto the fact that first and foremost, I am a writer, a performer, a sister, a daughter and a lover, and I happen to suffer from Bipolar and PSTD.
An extrovert by nature, I have managed to use the manias (which are extreme) to energise me into performing, choreographing and teaching belly dance. During my manic episodes, I find I can write profusely. I sleep very little and get a lot done. Those who know me, know about my condition and are as a whole forgiving of those moments when the manias become painful rather than pleasurable, or when I become reclusive as the inevitable depression follows the exhilarating highs.
They understand when my speech becomes too fast, when my thoughts race and when my eccentricity crosses that fine line into the realm of temporary insanity. As for those folks who do not understand? I cannot change who I am and they are free to move on.
If it sounds easy, I have to say it is not. I have struggled with suicide, institutionalisation etc. But I strive to rise above it. No matter how hard I fall, I do get up again, I just have to.
About two years ago, my partner of four years tried to kill me, and very nearly succeeded. He beat me to a point where just about all the bones on the left side of my body were broken. Harder than the physical injuries, was the humiliation, the obliteration of my ego, my sense of self, my identity as a woman. Why did he do it? Because he could. What reason did he give? “Well, you know she is Bipolar.” What shocked me the most? His explanation actually made a lot of sense to a large sector of the community. After all, they said, we bipolar people are ‘difficult’ to live with. I was appalled by the ignorance and archaic logic behind their opinions.
I was hospitalised for the PSTD. It took a long time and a lot of therapy to get over it. It still does and I still see a therapist, have night terrors and trust issues. However, I have decided to use my experience to help other women. I will ride this dragon too.
I reclaim my life. I am Nanieve. I am not a victim. I am not my disease.