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Bipolar Me

December 10, 2013

And now, back to our regularly scheduled topic: bipolar disorder. Mine, in particular.

Since I got the news that I’ve been hired for the state inspector position, I’ve undergone a seismic shift in the way I feel about my life and my illness. I’m not saying the sky’s the limit—and I’m sure as hell not saying I’m cured!—but this has given me a badly-needed lift and it’s turned my thinking around on a dime.

I am NOT done. I still have possibilities. I desperately needed to know this.

So I’ve taken a couple of measures to keep my “nonconformity” a little more private. I’ve already changed my name and profile picture on Facebook, and I’ve resolved to never disclose my bipolar at work. It’s just too big of a risk. I’ve been burned twice now and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let it happen a third time if I can help it. Which means I’ve got to avoid becoming manic at all costs, because that’s the hardest mood state to hide. With depression, I just become quiet and withdrawn…..but we ALL know what happens at the other end of the spectrum.

In some ways, I resent it that I can’t be forthcoming about my illness. If I had to take insulin every day at lunchtime, I wouldn’t think twice about taking my kit with me into a private area and injecting. But with a brain disorder—something that strikes at the very heart of a person—one must keep it to herself or risk being branded. I know this better than anyone. I don’t know HOW I’m going to hide it, or how I’m going to remain stable when I’ve been all over the map for two solid years. Nor do I know how it’s going to be different this time……but I’m going to do my best to make sure that it is.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not as confident as I appear on the surface. Inside, I’m scared to death that my superiors and co-workers will find out, of decompensating and being unable to hide it, of being seen as unstable and unreliable. These are all things that have happened to me before, so I think I can be forgiven for being a little anxious. BUT…..I am sick and tired of living in fear. I have had it up to my hairline with the “what if’s”. I am just shy of 55 and this is the best chance I’ve got to find out what I’m really made of—bipolar or not.

A couple of family members and friends have expressed some concern with my taking this job, which I understand because they’ve been right alongside my husband and my doctor, picking up pieces of my shattered being off the ground and patching me back together. They’ve seen me go down in flames, only to rise and dance on the moon, and then crash again. I really don’t know how to address their concerns, except that I MUST try this last time to reach for the proverbial brass ring, rather than settle for my current circumstances—which are pitiful indeed—or worse.

 

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