Dear Bipolar…

To the most significant relationship of my life, my Bipolar Disorder.

I’ve always known you were there.  I’ve known since my earliest memories that another being existed within me.  After 28 years, on my birthday, when it was given a name, I wasn’t shocked.  I wasn’t upset.  In fact the cake that my best friend and parents shared with me that day wasn’t to celebrate my birthday, but to celebrate the relief.  It’s funny how a name can do that.

You see, having that name took away some of your power.  You fought in the following years harder than you’d fought before to assert yourself, but I had a little power too, now.  That’s not to say that you didn’t win at times.  You did.  But your victories lost some of their fear.

Bipolar Disorder. 

I pored over books and articles, equally comforted and shocked when they all described me.  How did they know?  This was never a public relationship, you and me.  It was intimate and private.  You know everything about me.  But I can never know everything about you. 

I’ve never been able to accept you as part of me, despite the endless therapists coaxing me to do so.  You’ve always, since the first memories that I formed, been separate.  You had to be or I couldn’t fight you.  But then, that makes acceptance in to a challenge that is impossible to conquer.  I will never accept you.  Not completely. 

We’ve known each other longer and more intimately than I could ever know another person, and it’s not always been bad.  Your voice has soothed me to sleep on more occasions than I can remember, and been the only voice that I could hear through the countless months of darkness.  It’d be easy if I could hate you all the time, but I can’t. 

As I get stronger, it gets harder.  There’s a definite release in breaking down completely.  It’s hard to completely admit the level of nostalgia I have for those times.  For the nurses shining torches on me every 15 minutes throughout the night.  I swallow the Lithium every day and your voice gets further away.   Now I just have questions.  When is it coming back?  How much longer do I have before it ultimately wins?  And the classic:  Is this me, or the ‘illness’? 

You break a vase once, and you can rebuild it, knowing where the cracks are and where to hold it gently.  If you break that vase time and time again, and rebuild it painstakingly time and time again, it is impossible to know where the original breaks really were.  So it is with you.  You have reduced me to nothing so many times.  To no words, no thoughts, no voice, no dreams.  I’ve rebuilt everything; every thought inside my head.  But, as after an earthquake, I’ll never place a foot in front of another with certainty again. 

You are the most significant relationship of my life and I know that is why I have no room for another.  How can another person be inside my mind and being as wholly as you are?  It’s not that I haven’t tried, but sooner or later every relationship hits the wall of everything that I can never describe to them and every place they can never access. 

I wonder constantly what my life would have been if I hadn’t fought so hard.  Other than the ultimate victory, I wonder what else you could have done.  Or will do.

I am grateful to you.  When you live with something like you, there is no middle ground.  You pushed me to live the best life I could.  You brought me to a career that I love with all my heart, and you showed me the world.  At times you took everything.  But you also gave me this.  

I can never survive you.  You will always be there until death do us part.  That scares me more than I am able to admit.   But it’s also a comfort.  I know your name and that gives me more power than so many others.  There will be more times in the future when you win.  I know that.  But I want you to know this; I’m winning now.  For how many more years, months, days, minutes, seconds…I don’t know.  

But I’m glad you allowed me this.

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