I didn’t know much about bipolar two until being diagnosed last year. This was despite experiencing variations in my mood for years. My journals — which collectively go back eight years — refer to them as “gusts and relapses”. I didn’t think anything was particularly “wrong”. I just thought I was different. These highs and lows were just part of my song.
My highs were late nights — wide-eyed and open-minded with a feeling that anything was possible. My lows were the days I struggled to get the most basic things done — and to rid my mind of the torrent of thoughts tarnishing my previously laid out plans.
Should I have known? I remind myself that “normal” is subjective. And that two people on opposite sides of the globe can use the term to describe the weather. The same applies to our “inner climate”. Live shrouded in grey for long enough, and it becomes nothing out of the ordinary. Even though I had brighter moods beaming through at different intervals, this cycling of seasons was all completely “normal” to me. Also, taking into account personality and changing life circumstances — particular conditions can be difficult to identify.
I’m not a big fan of labels, but having a proper diagnosis has made my life much easier — even though I’m still yet to find which treatment works best. You see, its given me permission to focus on “me” — as unfortunate as it is that I needed it. It has also given me a way to relate to others without telling my life story. But that’s where it stops. This territory is full of slippery slopes. A diagnosis is a description more than anything else. It’s not a definition or limitation.
You might notice I’ve left out the “disorder” part. That’s because I truly believe we feel this way for a reason. Because we “think” different, we have a chance to be different. Stephan Fry and Carrie Fisher are two examples that immediately come to mind.
“Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.” — Stephan Fry
Part of my treatment plan is to play into my strengths. Working with it my creativity and spontaneity — I once covered myself in ice-cream for a book cover — to entertain and soften the seriousness of life. And my deep sensitivity; well, to support others in finding their way to the better parts of themselves — which is a core theme in my writing as I travel this journey myself.
I’m always going to have bipolar two. So the best thing I can do is to try to make the best of it. I can only speak for my own experience here. But where you can, I hope you join me by singing your song.