I’m on a constant search to find people like me. And by “like me” I mean people with bipolar disorder who work full time, hold down a so-called “typical” life, and the only way someone would ever know is if it was intentionally disclosed. It’s why I started blogging again and I’ve found some. (I’m looking at you Hazel)
It’s seems so easy to find people floating around the internet whose disorder is so severe they can’t work, or at least the symptoms are much more pronounced than mine. Those either generate fear in me that I’m going to lose what I’ve worked so hard for and end up in the psychiatric ward, or make me feel guilty for “struggling” because I’m able to function. Or I can find quite a few of the “I’m a mom and my kids are what keep me going” variety. I’m not a mom, I don’t have kids, so I can’t relate. Theoretically that should give me hope that one day I too can have kids and be OK. But it doesn’t. I’ve never had a burning desire to have kids, and frankly the whole thing just seems exhausting and more than I want to deal with. (Sorry mom).
It’s so easy to find success stories of people with depression and anxiety. I’m not saying that its easier to deal with those illnesses, but its not the same. For years when I was told that I was depressed and anxious I would search for people with it so I didn’t feel alone. Every time I found a story, I would read it and immediately think, “That’s not my experience, I can’t relate to that.” Well, know I know why.
I guess the reason I can’t find my people is because we keep it to ourselves. It’s hard enough to share when your stable, and when you are in the midst of it–even harder. It’s the fear of losing what little bit of normalcy you’ve been able to find and hold on to.
I want to find the people that have spent the last 15 years bouncing from therapist to therapist and psychiatrist to psychiatrist all the while knowing something was wrong, but not what. I want to find the people with failed relationships in the past but now are in healthy and supportive marriages. I want to find the people that are successful in their careers. I want to find the people that have had such a hard time getting the correct diagnosis because they’ve learned to hide the symptoms. I want to find people that give me hope that I don’t have to give up on my dreams.
And I especially want to find the people who can do all these things, all the while being open about their struggles.