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Friday, September 10, 2004

Differences in Light and Dark

It amazes me.

Somes sites or printed literature you read about bipolar disorder give such grim statistics. I'm an optomist by nature: I insist on finding SOMETHING positive about most situations (mind you, to find some I stretch further than a cheap stripper loaded on Jack Daniels). But in some literature it is quite dark indeed. Statistics regarding unemployment rates, relapse rate, medication non-compliance rates, even mortality rates are paraded with a mortician's flair.

Others say boldly how the vast majority of people with bipolar disorder lead normal, productive lives. It downplays the "disease" aspect and highlights the "success" stories of people who can conduct their lives without medication.

What is a manic-depressive to do? Geez...impulsivity and sudden changes of heart are a hallmark of the condition. Presenting us with such polar opposites seems almost cruel. If it is in print, it must be true, right? But how can it all be true?

I found this website that seems to have some balance.

http://www.obad.ca/

But still, how can these disparate things all be true?

The obvious answer would be that they aren't. However, think about it for a minute.

What is the core issue? Those of us who live this life of kaleidescopic skies really can travel down one of a number of paths each and every day, depending on the colour of the sky then. This can then be true: one BPer can live the high road, little to no meds, seeming a "success", while another is hospitalized on a regular basis to simply stay alive. But these are snapshots in life. Each study they appear in are only a portion of their lives. You cannot describe a person in a paragraph. Especially someone who is bipolar. The same person can appear in two different studies at two different times in their life and provide extremely different stories. We defy hard definition. We are fluid, like quicksilver. And while this necessitates the need for structure to keep us stable, it is also a quality that some envy. I am bipolar, and the disease is a struggle on a daily basis, but even on my medication I want to be able to maintain some of that flexibility. I think that is why I am almost constantly reading about it: I want to have the best of both worlds.

Years ago I read the entire original Dune series (I say original because I know Frank Herbert's son has added to it). There is a key element to the Atriedes lineage where Paul can stand and see all possibilities of all futures radiating out from him. It is this same open road of possibilities, in a sense, that can make both the light and the dark of the empirical literature of bipolar be accurate and true.

It is the choices we make. The tragic truth about bipolar disorder, however, is that our choices can be driven by delusion, hallucination, an unquiet mind arguing for sanity, struggling for a rest from pain. And I think that is ultimately what I'm looking for: to learn to make better choices, to learn to be "normal". I'm looking for a loophole somewhere, a grandfather clause that lets me out of the BP club because I don't think I've still accepted by diagnosis 100%.

But in my reading, and in writing here and corresponding with some of you, I'm learning that while it's not all sunshine and roses, we can live a good life, we can contribute, we can touch the lives of others in a manner that gives strength to our persistent survival.




Blogger mylifeinspain said...
Many thanks for listing my blog as a fave. I'm glad someone else is out there reading it besides my mom, who manages to find the handful of typos and report back to me.
All the best to you as you manage this illness. I don't know if you are familiar with the work of Liz Spikol. She writes a column for "Philadelphia Weekly", which you can find online...just search their archives for "spikol". She also has BP and writes candidly and occasionally humorously about its effects on her life....worth checking out I think.
Take care, mylifeinspain  

Blogger Meitar said...
You amaze me.

More importantly for my own greedy pursuits, you inspire me.

You make me want to write lots again. :) Thank you.  

Blogger moodymicello said...
As usual, you have put it eloquently and truthfully. But you are also right about acceptance. Your choices will not be consistent until you reach acceptance and your world will be less likely to stay right side up. Not that that is a bad thing. Keep writing. You inspire me.  

Blogger moodymicello said...
As usual, you have put it eloquently and truthfully. But you are also right about acceptance. Your choices will not be consistent until you reach acceptance and your world will be less likely to stay right side up. Not that that is a bad thing. Keep writing. You inspire me.  

Blogger moodymicello said...
As usual, you have put it eloquently and truthfully. But you are also right about acceptance. Your choices will not be consistent until you reach acceptance and your world will be less likely to stay right side up. Not that that is a bad thing. Keep writing. You inspire me.  

Blogger Cliff said...
In a word...wow.

Well said.

I love the description of people like us as "quicksilver" because that really captures exactly what it can be like. Sure, there are dark, horribly dark times, but there are also times of incredible splendor and inspiration that defy description.

And so true about our being seen as "snapshots." I was almost misdiagnosed for just that reason, as are many people with BP.

But, to me, you have raised a vital and important question.

There's CHEAP strippers?

(note to self: move to Canada)  

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