Welcome to the world of Bipolar. It’s filled with extreme highs and severe lows. It can be strangely wonderful or terrifyingly dark. That is, until you’ve worked out how to keep the balance right.
The majority of people don’t seem to know what Bipolar actually is. I suppose, how would you? Unless you’ve come into contact with the illness on a personal level, whether that’s you, a friend or family member. I had very little knowledge of it myself, up until earlier this year. So I’m not criticising anyone. However, due to the minimal physical symptoms, this illness can often cause people a lot of confusion. As they say, there is power in knowledge. In this situation it could not be more true.
Although the stigma still lingers around mental health, it has lessened extremely in the last couple of years. I would love for the stigma to completely disappear, but of course, that’s not going to happen over night. As it continues to shrink I would love to be a part of that. So, if this blog helps minimize the stigma in anyway at all, I will be happy. If this blog helps anyone suffering, whether personally or not, that will also make me very happy.
I must admit, I am a little nervous about this blog. I’ve written several before, as I love writing, but this one is quite a sensitive subject for me. As you may have guessed, I have been diagnosed with Bipolar. Will people look at me differently now they know that? I’d like to think not. As although I have Bipolar, it does not define who I am as a person.
Before I go any further, I just want to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has been there for me along the way. Without my team of support behind me, I honestly don’t know where I’d be today. I don’t even know if I would still be here. I’m not going to name names, but you all know who you are. I will be forever grateful, THANK YOU.
You may also be wondering why the blog is called “My Big Polar Bear”. Well, when I was first diagnosed I imagined that I had a polar bear living inside of my head. Yes, it does sound a bit strange, but it has helped me. A lot. A few of you may have heard me talk about “The Chimp Paradox” (If you haven’t, I had a slightly unhealthy relationship with this book/theory at one point – long story.) The book explains about the different parts of your brain, and uses a theory to make it much easier to understand. Basically, it breaks your brain down into three parts; the human = logic, the computer = knowledge/memories and the chimp = emotions.
The chimp is much stronger than the human. As I’m sure you know, sometimes your emotions can take over a logical situation. Whether this is love, anger or fear etc…
So, I wrote down the word: BIPOLAR.
I looked at the piece of paper for some time. All of a sudden I could see the words: BIG POLAR BEAR.
This seemed a lot less scary than Bipolar at the time.
When I think of a polar bear, I think of a magnificent creature. A creature that is wonderful to watch, perhaps even beautiful. However, it is extremely strong and dangerous. It would definitely eat me or you for a mid-afternoon snack. Of course, I don’t think of myself as a magnificent creature. But I have replaced “The Chimp” with a “Polar Bear”. I imagine that a polar bear would be much harder to control than a chimp. When it goes wrong, it could go horribly wrong.
“You control the illness, the illness doesn’t control you.”
One of the nurses said this to me. She was amazing. Probably one of the most helpful things she could have said. So it’s stuck.
Comparing my Bipolar to a polar bear, just makes it a lot more visually pleasing for me to deal with. I’m just in the process of learning how to control my “polar bear”, and after a long time it’s finally starting to work with me.
If you want to find out more about the adventures of my polar bear, watch this space!