When The Bipolar Writer suggested fellow Bipolar Bloggers contribute to his narrative, I was beside myself with joy. Perhaps he’d use one of mine. Choose me. I immediately wrote to him, and died a thousand deaths between the time it took to refresh my gmail for new mail (approximately 2.3 seconds) and was aghast that he had not immediately written back. In my world when I send an email / text or Whatsapp I do expect that the recipient has nothing other to do than wait for correspondence from me. I was a blogger with a good fifty followers, who read regularly I believed. And that would warrant an immediate response. He responded in what was probably a more reasonable time, and said he’d love me to write. And I back tracked. Back tracked into an anxious haze.
Speaking to a platform of thousands of people is different. It’s like going from being a tree in the pre-school play, to possibly making a speech at high-school, with braces feeling super awkward. I thought of a thousand reasons why not and the ones that stood out were: Maybe I wasn’t Bipolar enough? Maybe I didn’t understand the seriousness of being Bipolar? Perhaps I had not carried the mental illness mantle well enough? With blogs like Bipolar Bollywood and having actually written that I felt like I was Justin Timberlake in Sexy Back, I didn’t think I had the Bipolar brass to fit in.
When you have the ability to talk about the issues affecting people with mental illness, when you have the ability to talk about bringing about greater mental health for all people in some way or other that makes a difference, you need to do it. Whenever you can. Because there aren’t enough people who can, who will, and who keep on doing it. And perhaps more importantly do it together. If there’s one common experience we all have, is that we – or at least me – can’t all the time – but perhaps if we pass the baton – we will ensure that the message is received, understood and oh most importantly: for everyone concerned: supported.I know this intimately, living in a country where I cannot use my own name to blog for fear of how it would affect me and family. More than it has already done.
So am I Bipolar enough to tell you this and what the potential litmus test should be? Unlike the name of the condition suggests, one does not run between two poles or in my experience between two definitive moods. I am more like a worble in between moods. Worble is the sound a mood meter makes when you’re trying to find a wave length that works and is less anxious than the current frequency I find myself on. But perhaps the best – and most invasive litmus test of whether I am Bipolar enough, is the people around me. Those good and bad. Ask my family: Does she have Bipolar? After guffawing with laughter, my husband and children will answer, with difficulty: yes. Does she need medication? This will be a more somber answer with a straight faced emoji: yes. People who see me in a hospital and know I’m mentally ill? People who I work with who know my status? They say it in a different way. And it strikes me, that I’ve never struggled being Bipolar before.
But none of those in my experience has been any at the level of test each person with mental illness is affected by each day. Sometimes you wake up having not slept. Had a bad dream that burdens your morning, a jump in your routine. The depth of emotion I’ve had. The deep, dark, light, and shiny places I’ve been. It’s because I can hug with the warmth of emotion that each person requires, because I can sit beside someone and help them feel sad, because I can cry, and I can help others cry too. But like really I take this too far. I am certain that cartoon characters that cry pools out of their eyes, ears, nose and hair have been modeled on me. I feel it. I really do. And any opportunity for a dose of drama with a lashing of emotion has been known to be ascribed to me.
The Bipolar Writer and the Bipolar community that are there, that say we don’t need a test for you to be here, are really the reasons why I write. My chickens. My husband. My constantly unraveling experience. My growing empathy. And finally, oh finally, an opportunity to be me. Too much Bipolar? That’s me. Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t. I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.