I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2007 and started this blog in 2008. I’m still not sure why I started it, but whatever the reason, it became a big deal to me – a very big deal. Friends, family and acquaintances started reading it and it opened conversations about bipolar and how it affects me. I was excited by the number of people, both online and offline who asked questions. They wanted to learn more and to understand. I felt obligated to blog nearly every day. It seemed like everything I said or did revolved around this blog. Does that mean that being bipolar is all that I am?
Around the same time period as starting this blog, I began attending weekly meetings of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). DBSA is a non-profit organization providing support groups for people with depression or bipolar disorder as well as their friends and family. At that time anxiety made it difficult to leave the house so going to the meeting was about the only time I would get out. All my time spent was writing for the blog and attending my weekly DBSA meeting. My world had become very small. Does that mean that being bipolar is all that I am?
Over the years I’ve spoken out in many ways. I tried to start a local DBSA group, which failed because of its location. I conducted a sermon at church, while our lead minister was out town. Of course the subject of the sermon was about bipolar and mental illness. I also was able to get the church to donate money to our local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) chapter. Does that mean that being bipolar is all that I am?
Today I sit here writing this blog article, which I try to do at least three times each week. The subject is, of course, bipolar disorder. A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed for a large medical website. The subject was, of course, bipolar disorder. This week I’ve been busy writing a couple of short stories for an upcoming anthology book. The subject will be, of course, bipolar disorder. The subject of bipolar disorder comes up every day with Maurice, and friends, and church members, and more. Bipolar, bipolar, bipolar… Is being bipolar all that I am? The answer to the question is a resounding “No”. I am much more complicated than that. I am a husband, a father, a friend, a church member, a movie-goer, a reader, a writer, and much, much more. Being bipolar is not all that I am, but it is what I’m passionate about. To be more specific, the end of stigma from having bipolar or other forms of mental illness is what I am passionate about. People are passionate about many things – dogs, cars, swimming, backpacking and more. People are passionate about many causes – ending childhood cancer, pro-life, pro-choice, global warming, and more. Am I any different from them? I don’t think so.
If the things I do, the things I write, the things I say make you believe that being bipolar is all that I am, then fine, I’ll wear the badge with honor and will continue on with my passion.