Poe. van Gogh. Coppola. Maybe even Moses. What do all these famous figures have in common: manic-depression (aka bipolar disorder). There is no doubt that bipolar disease in one way or another has had a major impact on not just one field of life or study, but every aspect on mankind. Some of the greatest minds, artists, actors, musicians, even astronauts have had bipolar disorder. And today, I want to talk a bit more about why our disease is our gift, and if you do not personally suffer from an ailment, how you can turn your negative into your greatest weapon.
In popculture we often refer to impulsive or contrary behavior as “bipolar.” Anytime someone acts out against societal norm or the appropriate reaction, they are bipolar. It has become a term of slander to insult someone for bad behavior. And these are all completely accurate stereotypes of someone who does actually have bipolar disorder, and unfortunately for the average joe you are slandering, he doesn’t reap the benefits.
Society finds a way to turn our negative qualities into some sort of leprosy. We become ashamed of our big mouths, awkward laugh, oversized eyes, shyness, etc. All of a sudden we find ourselves wallowing in self-pity while trying to hide these societal “abnormalities.” This is perhaps our biggest mistake. These weird quirks are what make us interesting. They make us relatable, memorable, and identifiable. Example: I once knew a cute girl who got a nose job. Pre-nose job she was still cute with a very ethnic nose, but it wasn’t as Anglo-Saxon as everyone else in school. She was none the less, gorgeous. Shortly after high school she got her nose job, and looks great. But I have to be honest, I sortof thought she was prettier before (and not for physical reasons so hear me out). You see, that nose added character to a perfect face. It added a bit of grit to and read as a genetic roadmap of her genealogy. Now, she is still beautiful, but not nearly as interesting. She lost that “it” factor that made her face so memorable, so italian in this case.
That may have seemed like a very superficial example but I think you get the idea. Embracing your imperfections and disorders can actually be better than the perfect foil-persona.
Example 2. I have a friend who always marched to the beat of her own drum. She was eccentric and different. She had opinions but never apologized for standing up for her beliefs. I always admired this girl because when everyone else was going to college to pursue some bland degree in an unexciting field, she stepped outside the box. Literally. Not one to color in the lines, she ended up in art school. A risky career in a shitty economy, she never apologized for pursuing her dreams no matter how much society may have said it was a pipe dream. Today she can honestly say she loves her job and is happy. She went against societal expectations for an intelligent private highschool graduate, took the risk, and won.
We all have our problems but you need to turn your problem, that one problem you can’t change, into a superpower. For the artist, you cannot be contained in an office all day and expect to be nearly as satiated or happy as you would be if you fed the monster in a creative medium. For the bipolar sufferer, find your thing, and use your mania to create greatness.
In our depressive episodes there’s not a whole lot I have discovered to help motivate me. But during that manic times, I am on top of the world. All the medications, nutrition, and meds are working towards a cycle of more manic times that depressed ones (obviously happy medium is ideal, but being manic is my abnormality that gives me my edge.) Mania doesn’t have to mean you are running through the streets screaming and yelling at all hours of the night like a crazy person (that’s what societal ignorance might expect you to do.) Rather, I find my mania to be a time of heightened awareness. I feel everything, see everything, smell everything, sense everything. I read faster, write better, think clearer. I create more profoundly, argue more passionately, and dream with more ambition. In other words, my mania is your cocaine high, except mine is free. Well maybe not free, it comes at a price. I’m a slander. I’m a statistic. I’m bipolar. I am one in how many thousands who have a special imperfection society would call weird. From the beginning of time people with bipolar haven’t just lived, but they have succeeded, achieved, and shaped our world. As I begin to embrace my disease, I also begin to accept the beautiful reality that it is my time. The hard part is figuring out your “thing” because no matter how hard we tryost of us will never paint the Mona Lisa or star in “Twilight” movie (yes, Robert Pattinson is bipolar.) But once you do, you find your “thing” and embrace your disorders, abnormalities, and weirdness, you have the power to change the world too, you just need the courage to admit your imperfection kicks ass.