To the faithful 112 readers (yes, I follow the numbers); I need to offer a more comprehensive explanation of my ‘recuperation.’ Like what am I recuperating from? I imagine that some of you, or one or two of you, have wondered.
    It seems like a reasonable thing to do. Particularly now that I feel like reasonable person.
    I have bipolar disorder. This means that I can have periods of intense depression or episodes of mania. And periods when things are relatively calm.
    For the last month or so, I have been in a mental health centre, regaining my balance, my faculties and in some cases my memory. In early April, the imperfect storm occurred when a number of events coalesced around a particular moment in time and all the synapses in my brain seemed to fire at once. The circuit couldn’t handle the strain and things shut down. Went black. And I lost a few days.
    A nurse later described it as similar to a heart attack, which makes comparative sense. Except I don’t have a stent in my head and wires and beeping machines at my bedside
    I’m fortunate that I have been in of the finer mental health facilities in Canada. Equally, I’m fortunate that I’ve recovered fairly rapidly and fully from this experience. Thankfully, normal – my normal – has returned.
    Why am I writing this? Three reasons I think. First, I don’t need to hide the fact I have bipolar disorder. Mental illness is often unseen but is real. It’s a disease like any other, a bit of a shape-shifter so it’s more difficult to diagnose and treat, and to date incurable but it can be extremely livable.
    Second, a stigma surrounding mental health issues exists though it’s diminishing. Some still see it as personal defect or something you should be able to shrug off ‘if you really wanted.’ Even I didn’t really believe the diagnosis and it took me some time to realize – ‘yep, those symptoms, I know those symptoms.’  But that stigma – be it mine or others – shouldn’t have stopped me from getting proper medical help. It’s changing, but some days I feel like I should put a cast on my head.
    Third, being honest about bipolar disease or disorder, takes away the discomfort or the feelings of powerlessness or despair. It allows me not to be a victim of the disease. It lets me wrest back some control.
    I am many things and I have bipolar disorder. It doesn’t define me or confine me. It’s just part of who I am. I’m not bipolar, in the same way that people with cancer are not cancer. 

    Instead, call me Terry or Jack or Hank and I’ll be fine with that.
    Thanks for sticking around. Let’s get on with it.


 





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