This is a subject that is near and close to me. For a number of reasons, I consider this, a work of “fiction.” The reality is anything but that. There is still a stigma attached to bipolar disorder. It is not well understood. Those that suffer with it know what it entails. However, it is still a mystery.
Diagnosing bipolar is difficult. Even those afflicted may not know for years. That is a reality that I am fully aware.
This is one perspective on the illness from an insider.
The Lens of Reflection: sharper than the eye that witnesses the present.
When the diagnoses arrived that I was bipolar, disbelief transformed into relief. Until I was informed of this, I had no sense that something was wrong. Something was very wrong. I assumed there was nothing out of the ordinary in my life. Bipolar was concept. It was not a term that applied to me. The irony is that people who I cared about deeply were afflicted. In time, I would learn what I assumed was normal was not.
My bipolar condition had been a part of me for a very long time.
Lack of recognition makes this particular malady all the more difficult to discern from the ups and downs most people experience. The inability to see it in one’s self is a trademark of this mental condition.
Following periods of profound depression, I would feel energized, agitated and filled with overriding confidence. Self-esteem would morph into depression, fear, anxiety and guilt. Confidence blended with delusional states of grandeur never lasted. That over blown idea of self-importance never lasted. They were as intense as they were fleeting.
Until I hit rock bottom, until I had my first ever encounter with a therapist and a psychiatrist, it was then I came to the realization that my entire adult life was filled with issues, problems and thinking that made no sense. Reality appeared. What had been the norm for me was out of kilter with what everyone was doing.
Equipped with a fresh nomenclature to give form to the formless, much about myself had been the result of mood changes, the chemistry of my brain and the inability to see what was so obvious once I started treatment.
The psychiatrist who prescribe my mediations told me that “It is difficult to make decisions when you mind is out of order.” This may not be an exact quote. I never put words in other people’s mouths. But the essence of the idea was there. That one sentence summed up much.
How something so disabling escaped me remains an enigmatic mystery. I remain mystified as to how I went undetected for so long. It seems so clear I had a mental behavioral problem. What is not so clear is that my family never saw this. They just said I was moody, introspective and disdainful of aggregates of people. In retrospect, the lens of reflection is sharper than the eye that witnesses the present. What I had to measure mental stability against was not of much assistance.