Good morning! I wrote this reflection in 2011 about a year
after experiencing a psychotic break, which is commonly referred to as a
nervous breakdown. I kept in the present tense, because it was written that way
and I like the flow of it. Today, in 2103, I am better than okay. I have
experienced just a few break-through symptoms of bipolar, which have been well managed
with treatment. Yet, I choose to remember those dark days when one day at a
time was all I could manage. I did complete a memoir, titled Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis,
which details the year of recovery. I am not sure if the manuscript will see publication,
yet I am shopping it to agents and considering self publishing.
Today, I am okay. And really that is all anyone can have or request.
Someday, I may kill myself. It happens to people like me:
people who share my diagnosis. But as for today, I am okay. The symptoms do not
infiltrate with devastation.
People like me make up an approximate 2.6 percent of the
population. People like me sit in prisons. People like me destroy families.
People like me are feared. But, today I am okay.
I have a mental illness. It’s not just a case of the blues
or an episode of extravagance. It’s something rooted with a firm grasp attempting
to rob sanity.
Bipolar is what they call it today. They used to say
Manic-Depressive. They think the word Bipolar offers a better description of
the teeter totter of symptoms. It is classified in the mood-disorder family
residing with Unipolar Depression. With Bipolar Disorder, the pendulum swings
from this hopeless pole to mania: a welcome reprise from the other. Back and
forth seems more accurate that up and down, but it’s a mixed bag of extremes
that are often swirled together.
This companion of mine, a steady uninvited guest, is less
straightforward than what is written in a text or reference book. Trumping the
predictable highs and lows, have been episodes polluted with hallucinations and
delusions. I have seen things that are not there. I have believed distortion.
The truth was hard to recognize. They tweaked my diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder
with Psychotic Features.
The researchers work. They believe. They try to find a way
to understand. They seek wisdom, validity, and solution. They break this
illness farther into categories I and II, which describe variations of the
disorder. The outcomes of bipolar manifest uniquely in each person afflicted.
Without a measuring stick the doctors probe and jab and
question. They find commonalities to their lists, they make educated
assumptions. Believing their assessment is the way to hope. The alternative
hurts too much.
Denial, a cousin to the disorder, tempts logic. It casts Doubt’s
shadows. Denial’s attraction is to believe instead this category of sickness is
hogwash. It classifies the previous description as weakness. It serves to
forego a scientific treatment and rather prescribes to dress with gumption and
arm with willpower making a way without treatment.
I put my faith in the doctors. I believe the research. I owe
it to myself to have a majority of days where I am okay. I owe it to society to
be productive. The hope they give is balance. With this, I can navigate life
I keep a belief in a higher power. I ask the creator for
grace as I carry a burden. Hurdles do not make us special: we all come across one
or another. I call mine bipolar. You may have a different obstacle. Call it a
cross to bear if that resonates with your education. Mine is real. It comes, it
stays, and it’s chronic. I treat the symptoms; I walk with optimism waiting
with anticipation for the advancement that cures this monster.
I keep hope. I trust those who love me, when I know not to
trust myself. Today, however, I am okay.