I’ve been reading An Unquiet Mind and part of it brought up this question for me. If I could choose not to have bipolar, would I?
It’s one of those weird, barely answerable questions. Obviously, I have no idea what my life would have been like without it. In a way, it’s similar to asking if I would still be gay (yes) or mixed race (yes). These things have, at different times, made some things slightly more difficult. They, too, are life-long. The difference, I suppose, is that they have never threatened my life.
So, would I change it?
You know what, I think I would change the self-harm. Some people wear their “battle scars” with pride; I don’t. I’m not ashamed, but I am regretful. Still, I suppose even the self-harm has played its role in getting my mental health problems noticed and so, ultimately, treated.
But the illness? I don’t think I would change it. In an ideal world, I would keep the positive parts of hypomania (productivity, freeflow of ideas, confidence and carefree-ness) without the negative (uncareful sex, too-fast thoughts, anger and inevitably, CRASH). But that’s not possible.
The lows have been utterly, indescribably horrible, in a way I can’t even describe. They sort of curdle inside, like jarred dead things. It seems mad (haha) not to trade them and in a way, I would. But at the same time… they’ve lent me sympathy to other peoples’ feelings, insight (afterwards) and an appreciation of what it really is to be OK.
Maybe without this I would be less sympathetic, less creative less patient and ultimately, less determined to succeed. This has made me push to be as good as everyone else. I might not be where I am, if I didn’t have obstacles to knock fuck out of, to jump higher over. Again, I can’t be sure. How can I know where, or how, I might be?
And you know, I am not dead. Were I, I might feel differently about all of this. But I think I would choose this all, after all.