Jan. 5th, 2013

paleo: Dire Wolf skull (Default)
If you are bipolar or care about anyone who is bipolar, I really encourage you to read this article. It's about researchers who looked into the claims that bipolar disorder comes with positive experiences along with the bad.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120503115927.htm

I've confused people when I tell them that I want to *manage* my bipolar, but I would *not* take a cure if it existed. My condition makes me different from non-bipolars in ways that are good as well as bad and I value that. If you took those traits away, I would not be who I am. I wouldn't be the person you (hopefully) respect and like.

I fully agree with the people who report feeling like they experience the world more intensely and through a lens that brings out all the rich color, music, sensations, and nuances in the world.

In just the span of writing these sentences I have been nodding my head to the score to one of my favorite games (Saints Row the Third) practically rolling in its flow. And then thinking how utterly amazing it is that there are people out there who can play with sounds in a way that not only enhances but gives life to movies and games. And those people are super awesome gifts.

And then I realize I'm talking to an audience of my friends and my eyes tear up joyfully when I think about all the beautiful things I associate with you all. Knowledge, creativity, desires to make the world a better place, lives full of hard-earned accomplishments, joys, tragedies, dreams, and desires. And how honored I feel to be allowed a peek into all this.

Then I go back to my music and take a sip of cold water, closing my eyes and thinking how nice it feels on my tongue.

This all probably sounds bizarre to most people. It might even sound like I'm high. Well, hypomania is a kind of high. I've never believed that baseline "normal" brain chemistry should be sought after all the time for one's whole life anyway.

But back to that article (finally, huh?). I do feel like I owe bipolar for a lot of good in my life. I get excited about things most people wouldn't. Like the symmetry of leaves. The different scents of herbs and spices. Making handmade Valentine's cards. Not excited as in "this is nice and meaningful", but excited as in "I can't believe I live in a world that lets me experience this". Being on this planet is such an achingly marvelous thing and I can't understand how most people seem unaware of this.

I also agree with the folks who say that their lows sometimes come with gifts too, such as increased empathy and sensitivity to the suffering of others. Well, for me, that just goes back to the achingly marvelous thing that is life. I hold that humans are both the most beautiful and the most ugly creatures on this planet. We are the most cruel. We are the most compassionate. That paradox is very painful to me. I am well acquainted with great depths of despair and hopelessness. I know that this is mostly caused by chemicals, that it is nothing compared to despair caused by the myriad of horrible experiences fate and humankind can inflict on an individual. But still, I've looked into the kind of despair that held Death out in front of me over and over. When I go through that I don't wish it on anyone, and when I crawl out I desperately want to find ways to keep people as far away from that sort of despair if I can.

Like one of the ladies in that article, I've also considered that my being more witty, humorous and quick of thought (if my friends' descriptions of me are accurate) might be because I'm bipolar and not necessarily a core personality trait.

Maybe bipolar has given me traits that make me a better, more insightful, perhaps more entertaining friend. Is it a bad thing if that is so? If it's true, is it wrong to be grateful to a "disorder" for these traits? I don't think so.

I know I shouldn't use this as an excuse to skip meds, as bipolar people are prone to do (and yes, I have skipped them at times when it felt like I didn't need them). But is it so wrong to not want a cure? Most "normal" people seem horrified at that thought. But I'm glad that there are at least a few researchers out there who care enough to listen to the whole story of bipolar. Who accept that many of us feel blessed and cursed at the same time.

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January 2013

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