As someone with bipolar type II (turns out that ever since I was hospitalized, my diagnosis has been bipolar type I), I know that my symptoms are less severe than others. That’s not to say that I do not cycle or that I’m asymptomatic.

I’ve screamed at and hit my son. I’ve flipped the kitchen table and slammed doors. I’ve been psychotic and struggled with intrusive thoughts and impulses. I’ve also rapidly cycled and had mixed episodes. I realize that some of these symptoms sound pretty severe and could qualify me for a diagnosis of bipolar type I. I usually do not even state which “type” of bipolar I have, for MY mental illness is somewhat fluid.

BUT – and this is a huge BUT – I know that bipolar disorder is a spectrum disorder and that some of us have it easier than others. That is why I was not diagnosed as bipolar for decades. Hypomania looks MUCH different than full-blown mania. MUCH. Mania can be incredibly destructive. Hypomania (aside from the irritable bitchiness and rage) can result in overachievement and make one look more like a superstar than someone struggling with mental illness. In fact, my workaholism IS a symptom, but a very DIFFERENT symptom than others.

Some people’s depression and bipolar disorder does NOT respond to treatment, to medication, to ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), to CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), to mindfulness, to ANY medical, psychotherapeutic, nutritional or alternative treatment, and it is NOT their fault.

Thank you for this honest post, Zoe of Trash Diaries. It is WRONG for us to deny each other, to put each other down, to expect life to be positive all the time. In fact, there is no positive without negative. There is no light without the dark. Reality is complex.


12 responses to “Burns.”

  1. Anger is tricky for everyone, even healthy people.

  2. It’s a long road…now I’m trying to lean how healthy people manage anger.

  3. I agree with you completely on all points. I’ve been in therapy for over 30 years. Responsibility definitely involves compassion for oneself and for others.

  4. One of the first skills I had to learn when I was diagnosed with DID is that I am responsible for whatever I do regardless of which alternate I think I am.

    I have zero problem intellectually with knowing that my emotional understanding of “self” is based on a delusion.

    The intellectual skill to cope with the consequences of bad behavior when I have no memory of what I’ve done is learned.

    This is the kind of skill that you can’t get in 90 days by sitting in a once a week “therapy” session based on platitudes.

    It has taken five years of hard work in twice-weekly psychotherapy for me to learn how to manage my illness well enough to blog consistently.

    And to accept the condition well enough to risk writing about it.

    Taking responsibility is much more than saying “I’m sorry.”

    It also involves compassion for myself and for whatever choice someone else may feel he has to make because of my behavior.

  5. Yes. We must own it. When I have erred, I have owned my error. As someone with bipolar disorder, I have raged when such a reaction was out of proportion, inappropriate, and abusive. If I deny that, then I deny the reality of my son who has been on the receiving end of my rage and no matter what he did, he didn’t deserve that reaction. To be loving and kind to one another, we must acknowledge the darkness, the pain we might cause others even when we do not intend to do so.

  6. Yes…It seems to me that the refusal to accept the fact of pain, the fact that some people abuse power to intentionally inflict pain and that his abuse creates victims is the source of
    much of the misery we see on our streets.

  7. Yes! Mental illness is not easy to live with. Hers is a powerful voice.

  8. Without doubt, denying pain stunts growth. Who would want to live in a Pollyanna world anyway. So boring. Life is complex. That complexity feeds our soul and inspires us. Without it, we would be bereft of so much art and literature.

  9. Thanks for reposting this, Kitt. Like BPNurse, I spent a long while reading Zoé’s stuff. We need ALL the voices.

  10. Excellent post. Pain is pain…Some of us struggle with different degrees of pain but that doesn’t change the pain. The denial of this pain is part of the stigma attached to mental illness; it also stunts the emotional and intellectual people without mental illnesses.

  11. Blahpolar led me to her.

  12. This is an addictive blog. I’ve spent the last hour or so reading Zoe’s commentaries and I admire her greatly. Thanks for sharing her work.

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