I have bi-polar disorder. Please notice, I do not say “I am bi-polar.” Because the sum of what and who I am is so much more than a simple chemical imbalance. What does it mean to have BPD? For me, it means that I share the inside of my head with many different aspects of myself. There is Depression. There is Mania. There is Anxiety. And there is Stable. These are my ever present companions. I perform miraculous juggling acts in order to keep them all in check. Strangely enough, each one has her own talents and special needs.
Depression writes in terse, sparse sentences. Salubrious, grey imagery of rainy days and dark skies. You want to be careful when you read depression. She can suck you in at a moment’s notice, even when you think you’re doing well. Before you know it you’re wondering why you can’t get up enough momentum to slam your head in the sliding glass door.
Now Mania, she writes in long, flowing, beautiful streams of consciousness. Rainbows and waterfalls and pink unicorns. She inspires super human feats of strength. She can go for days without food or sleep. Mania does my best creative work. But beware the crash, because Mania can only last for so long, and when she goes back into hiding Depression is more than happy to stick her head out and send in her ugly stepsister Anxiety.
Anxiety writes in short, nervous bursts. Worry, dread, shortness of breath, tightness of chest. The world speeding by too fast to even think about catching up. Anxiety keeps you awake nights writing poetry about useless worry and feelings of hopelessness.
And Stable……..Stable doesn’t write much at all. Stable is what the doctors want me to be. Stable is the goal of all the medications I take. She is …… well, she’s even tempered, patient, beige. She lacks creativity, but she takes direction very well. She’s organized and well dressed. She keeps things running smoothly. But strangely enough, she’s also lonely. Lonely for intimacy, for laughter and craziness. For affection and art. For the little things in life that make it not only bearable, but enjoyable. Stable cruises through life with few noteworthy events, but she’s not lying awake nights writing hopeless poetry…..she’s not performing feats of super human strength …… she’s not trying to slam her head in the door …..and she gets lots of sleep and plenty to eat. While I appreciate all of Stable’s important and necessary qualities, she is, surprisingly, not my favorite. I would trade a week of Stable for two days with Mania…….lifting boxes, creating beautiful things, writing love stories with waterfalls and pink unicorns.
The truth is, Stable pretty much runs my life. She keeps me doing all the important things that need to get done, and she directs my daily actions. I guess in the long run, Stable is in charge of the whole crew. She’s the Zen Master who keeps everything balanced and tranquil. She keeps the others in check. She makes sure my head doesn’t get smashed in the door. She keeps me from trying to run a marathon or play touch football. She helps me sleep at night when Anxiety would keep me awake. Stable loves me. All of me. All of my different aspects. On good days, she melds them all seamlessly together to create a smart, confident woman who can handle whatever life throws at her.