Bipolar Rocks!

Are there any good things about being bipolar?


When this question was asked in a group i'm part of online the other day, i got a little excited. Excited enough that
after trying two or three times to respond, i got frustrated
and gave up.

It bugged me. Why couldn't i spit it out? After sleeping
on it, and walking the dog on it, i think my problem
in conjuring a response comes down to this:

How would I know?


"We are not sure who discovered water,
but we are reasonably certain it wasn't fish.
Marshall McLuhan

It's been the better part of forty years since i heard him say this, but the words have been rattling around my head ever since, and never louder than lately.

Like a lot of my tribe, when i was diagnosed with bipolar disorder some years ago, the first thing i felt was relief.
Relief that i wasn't just a stupid useless waste of a good skin.

there were factors above and beyond my control at play here. now, i was a mental stupid useless waste of a good skin.

it wasn't all my fault.

i was born lucky. my mother was a nurse. my aunt was a nurse. all their friends were nurses. as i moved from blobbo to being, i grew up with a pretty good grounding in life, death and many of the unpleasant afflictions and accidents that can seriously fuck your plans on the road of life... like car crashes, concussions, and cancer.

and, as it turns out, bipolar disorder.


As a tribe, the dually polared tend to be highly literate
about their disorder and this literacy extends well into pharmacology. Most BPs are offered a variety of mind-altering drugs in a kinds of combinations before finding a combination that seems to make one feel normal enough to hang in there.

Some opt out of la vida medicado for personal, political reasons. Some can't afford to keep getting them. But on
them or off them, everybody is living in altered state.


Whether they've been diagnosed
as bipolar or not.

Are there any good things about being bipolar?

I've been learning about what "bipolar" can mean for about seven years. Some of my best friends are bipolar, and we've talked about it in the way that friends do.

Is being interested in how your mind works a good thing?
Is speaking openly and passionately about how life feels a good thing?

What i learn leads me to looking at my actions and reactions, past and present, in new ways. Is that a good thing?

The more i learn, the less some things hurt. The more i understand, the more i laugh about what used to make me cry. The more i forgive myself for being such a stupid useless waste of a good skin, the more slack i cut myself and everyone around me. 

Is that a good thing?

Time will tell, but in the meantime, i can tell you my life doesn't suck nearly as much as it used to, and that's
a good thing.


This is all news to me, by the way.

Up til i started writing this, i had a few pat answers
about the benefits of being bipolar.

   if anyone was to ask me "what's your superpower?", i would say "connecting dots". i used to
say "i can make shit up", but some normal people have adverse reactions to that so i changed it.

i see connections between things - sometimes because i know stuff, sometimes but more often intuitively. When
i learned about the interesting links between bipolarity
and creativity, i wasn't  surprised.

i haven't had a straight job since the early 80s. since then, i've just been making shit up, and getting away with it.
how good is that?

  one of the ways i've dealt with the pain in my
own life has been to make other people's pain more important. i'd suck shit up, i'd go miles out of my way
to be sure that i would never knowingly inflict the kind of pain on others that people had caused me.

it goes on. i'm sure you get the picture, but does it answer
the question...

Are there any good things about being bipolar?

How would i know?

How would i know?

There is no line dividing the "disorder" from the real "me".
i can't sort what i say or do or think into such tidy columns, attributing what i like to "me" and what i don't like to "the disorder".

Bipolar disorder is not something  separate from "me". It's not a wart, or a tumour or a hangnail, something that could be removed.
There is no normal "me" being held captive somewhere in my brain.

It's in the way my neurons go off and on. It's hard-wired
into every thought and perception. It's in my DNA.

And since there is no cure, the day will never dawn
when i emerge from my spiritual chrysalis into
the mythic light of some better day, where i am "bipolar-free".

"Me" is how i was raised, and schooled.  "Me" is what i ingest, from toast and cheese to a cup of coffee, a glass of wine to prescribed medications. "Me" is blood sugar, brain chemistry and my best intentions...

"Me" is the memories of what i've done, what i'm doing
and what i want to do next.

"Me" is a lot of stuff, including, as
it turns out, bipolar disorder.

It isn't sad, or awful or unfair.

The way i am is
just the way it is...

... which reminds me of something else
i once heard somebody say...

Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?

Here feel we not the penalty of Adam,
The seasons’ difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter’s wind,
Which when it bites and blows upon my body
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile, and say
’This is no flattery. These are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.’

Sweet are the uses of adversity
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.

i wrote this out on my wall
of my apartment once,
so i would see it every day.

how crazy is that?


i don't know if it rocks or not. on a good day, i know how i respond to the world around me - how both the beauty and the horror have an effect on me that seems to be much more visceral than the uni-polared people in my

i know that i can perceive connections between things that seem to elude my 'normal' friends until i explain it to them... at which point they generally go "oh, yeah...".

i know that i notice things around me that seem to be invisible to them as well, from the infamous squirrel (or woodpecker, or old car, or signs on the street) to the buzzing sound that the ballasts in flourescent lights make.

i know that they are able to tune out things that actually do make me crazy, like the ticking of a cheap clock in the room, or the muzak in the mall.

one of the things that freaks me out in large cities, in fact, are the sirens of emergency vehicles- the volume and frequencies cut into my skull even when i'm wearing headphones. i have to stop walking and cover my ears til the vehicles go away, but when i look around, i'm the only one it seems to bother...

and so on...

is any of this about bipolar disorder? does any of this mean anything, let alone that bipolarity gives one useful tools not available to the less

some days i think it does. other days, i don't even want to be alive, let alone thinking about this shit.

in the end, like Van Morrison used to sing...

"it ain't why, why, why...
it just is."


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