Following on from my last post, I thought I’d just write a quick one (I hope!) covering what’s “normal” and not when you have bipolar. In my experience, that is.
As I said before, “normal” is when you can function. But in a way, that’s a reasonably wide definition of normal, and you could be in a manic or depressive phase while still meeting the criteria for being normal in that case. If you’re want to define “normal” as “not manic or depressed”, how would you do that? (I would actually call that “stable”, rather than “normal”, probably because normal is such a fuzzy label, but anyway.)
I think perhaps being manic or depressed means that you’re not in control of your moods or emotions any more. You can’t “just snap out of it” or “cheer up” or “calm down”. Your brain chemicals are out of whack, and you’re stuck on that rollercoaster until something happens to stop it. That could be outside intervention (from medication, to therapy, to just someone letting you know that you’re not well – because sometimes you can’t tell yourself ), it could be a sharp mood swing in the other direction, or it could be that you are able to put coping mechanisms in place yourself and start to haul yourself out by your bootstraps. So yes, it is possible to take control back if you catch the mood swing early enough, or at the right point when you’re going back in the other direction. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helps you do that. The meditation that I spoke about earlier is one of my coping strategies. Getting it out of my head and into paper or screen is another. Knitting and spinning are another. And getting out of the flat and socialising is a very very important one.
Perhaps one of the problems with bipolar is that when you’re manic, it’s very easy to “fake normal”. Everything’s brilliant, you can do anything and everything right now if you’re at the “right” stage of mania. And it feels good. It’s actually harder to admit to mania when everythings awesome like the awesomest thing ever, than it is to admit to depression (which can be pretty hard if you can cope with talking to anyone!).