It may just be the people I’ve met, but I tend to experience others with bipolar as extroverted, larger than life, energetic, zany even. I know this can’t always be the case but with the majority of people I’ve met, it often seems to be.
For me- possibly because I have type 2 and tend towards depression rather than mania, it often seems to be the other way around. I guess to others- especially those closest to me- I sometimes (often?) seem to be that way: excitable, creative, full of ideas. Yet to me it often seems that I am often introverted, even, occasionally, to the point of being shy.
It’s always been a puzzle to me, this blend of introversion and extroversion, being able on the one hand to walk up to a stranger in a pub and introduce myself, and on the other finding myself adrift in certain social situations. Bipolar aside, I know this “introverted extrovert” thing is the signature of a large number of people: I’ve read about it and I’ve seen it for myself. Still, in myself, it confuses me.
It’s a bit like when I was young and wanted to be boyish, so that people would believe I was gay…
Because of the fluctuations (pre-lamotrogine) between hypomania and depression, I have experienced myself both as someone unable to stay quiet, and someone almost unable to speak. Even without those mood changes, though, even in a state of relative stability, I experience milder versions of those traits. I compare myself to others with this condition and sometimes it seems to me that they are all confident and brave- but I know from long experience that this is not necessarily the case. That beneath bravado often lies a deep-seated insecurity or even fear: a fear of failing, a fear of relapsing, a fear of never getting/ staying well.
I have to remind myself daily that energy is not necessarily a personality trait of bipolar outside of an episode. That confidence doesn’t= mania any more than shyness= depression. That personality is separate from bipolar, and we cannot all be the same, and that’s alright. That it is OK to be sometimes an introvert and sometimes an extrovert, with or without mood swings.
And to be me: to be either one or the other, or neither one nor the other, is OK. I’m only human, after all.