Hello. Yes, actually, that’s me.

When people say “Bipolar”, unless they ARE, or know someone who IS, they use it as a demeaning description of someones actions and behavior. And quite frankly, I hate it. I was probably guilty of it before I was diagnosed…

But, Hello. I am your co-worker you get along with and watch continuously perform excellent work.

And, Hello. I am the young woman with the tablet and books spread out in front of me at the gym seemingly minding my own business while working on a paper.

Hello. I HAVE BIPOLAR DISORDER. I am NOT “crazy”. Having this illness does not make me less of a good person than you. And using the word “bipolar” in a derogatory way against someone else is offensive.

Why does BIPOLAR = BAD to you?

Why does BIPOLAR = CRAZY to you?

Why does BIPOLAR = UNFIT to you?

These people who use the word like that, they probably wouldn’t even be able to give me a good definition of the illness. I think that’s what I’ll do next time this happens to me. I’ll ask them, like I’ve never heard of it before, “What is Bipolar?” And then, I’ll let them have it. But I won’t portray this image they have of a bipolar person, screaming, nuts.

Most sensible people have stopped using the term “retarded” to describe people – it’s time to start doing the same with “bipolar”. It’s a real situation. Real people have it.

Just Like Me

I found myself wondering yesterday evening, as I stepped into the shower about an hour before my first Bipolar Support Group started, “Why am I going?? I don’t like people. I have all the support I need between my blog and my family and friends who know. WHY AM I GOING?”. Surprisingly, the answer flowed from my elusive brain:

I want to see what they look like. I want to see just how sick I am compared to them.

Honest thoughts like that from me are hard to come by. Most of them are centered around pleasing someone, and as emotional as I am, I am not very in touch with MY feelings. Recognizing this has knocked me back a little. It feels like a huge realization that is going to change the way I think. It has, in this short time. I can feel myself care less about if someone is judging me. Its odd…Im still trying to figure it out…another day, another blog.

I was incredibly nervous going to this meeting. I found a parking spot quickly, and made my way to the nearest elevator. There was an older woman in a pink shirt that rode to the 2nd floor with me. She carried on to wherever while I asked the nearest nurse where room C is.

I stopped down the hall from the room. I had to decide now if I wanted to see what was in there. I kicked my ass and walked in.

And there’s the lady from the elevator. She joked and asked if I was following her. I didn’t have to spend much time scanning the room, there was only a total of 4 people there. All older (40+).

Sigh. No one in a straight jacket. No one trying to chew their ear, or screaming, or my personal manic favorite – soliciting for sex.

There ended up being 10 including me. I was the youngest. I wasn’t the craziest. Or the least crazy. Trust, I quietly surveyed everyone. My first check was for wedding bands. Aside from the two partnered gay women sitting across from me, I was the only one wearing one

In 15 years, when I’m their age, will I no longer be wearing one? Do I, do we, have the equivalent of the plauge of marriage? I gathered after hearing everyone’s introduction that they had all been diagnosed later in life. I comforted myself with thinking about how I caught it early and am dedicated to therapy and my medication.

I was fully prepared to say that I don’t want to talk. But I found myself eager to share after hearing a few intros: painful, and embarrassing. I listened and watched everything there was to listen to and watch. Clothing, eye movement, voice, sentence structure, and confusion or delay in their story, and most importantly, what their eyes were saying.

Some eyes were sad. Defeated. Hollow. Wild. Angry. Frustrated. I saw myself in every single one of them. They saw themselves in each other as well. There was an understanding. And it was the least judgmental place I have ever been. They knew when someone was feeling low, when someone hadn’t taken their Meds. They asked how the other’s surgery went, and sent a Happy Birthday to another group member’s dog.

There was a sense of protection there. It was special. It just was.

They were people Ive probably seen around town, and they are struggling just like me. They get crazy just like me. They have a temper just like me. I always thought I was a rare breed…

But I found others. Just like me.

Coming Out

I’m still new at work. Not the newest, but still new. I don’t talk too much…I just watch and listen. I’ve been having dizzy spells for the past 4 or 5 days, and mentioned it to a girl at work last night. She said she was having dizzy spells too, but that she just started a new medication.

I was just listening. She’s really chatty and jittery, so there wasn’t any awkward moments, until she spilled “I have anxiety. I’ve been convinced for months that I have a brain tumor.” ┬áSilence. I just looked at her…thinking that I know that is more than anxiety, and thinking of a way to tell her that I think she should see a professional. She fixed that silence by continuing her ramble saying the she knows it sounds crazy, and that she is a little crazy.

I’m sensitive to the word “crazy”. So I instantly started talking when I heard it, exposing myself. “No no no no no…you’re not crazy…” I told her I’m bipolar. To which she said “I am too.”

Then I high 5’d her. Yeah, right there in front of a dining room full of guests. It seemed like the most appropriate thing to do. We didn’t continue any personal talk about it that night, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a warm, friendly feeling between us from then on,

Which leads me to the best part of this post. Mr Braving (thepillarsofherearth.wordpress.com) asked me:

If 2 bipolar people high 5, would that be a bi-5?

I provide the material, he creates the jokes. Most of the time I am the material.

What are your thoughts on coming out? Experience?