I am a magnet. Of two specific poles: the highs and lows, the ups and downs. Both are in disagreement. It is one or the other, but the one and the other are related, connected. They oppose each other. But since magnets produce fields as well as respond to them, so do my highs and lows and ups and my downs feed into one another. My anxious, agitated dysphoric hypomanias exit my north pole and enter the low, low depressions of my south like magnetic lines of force. Repel. Attract. Push. Pull. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I am moved and shoved through means of these unseen forces that control my every move. It’s possible for magnets to lose power (raise their temperature or shock them), but their magnetic state returns in the end. I can raise myself high by doing what I should, but the fluxes still return. I can be shocked into stability, like after a particularly deranging episode ends, but it doesn’t last forever. It is an unceasing dance caused by the spin and momentum of electrons, by life’s disorganization and the speed at which it all flies by. It is bipolar disorder. It is unrelenting.
My life is strongly and intensely magnetic.
And it seems as though my magnetization repels good and attracts bad.
Yet with all that, it’s possible to put the exhaustively persistent magnetic forces to good use. Daily life is the way it is largely because of them. Everything from headphones and refrigerators to computers and medical equipment functions properly due to magnets. Their forces may have been mysterious to us at one time, but we understand them now, and we make them work for us.
I spent far too many years being confused by the seemingly capricious ups and downs of my bipolar life. It wasn’t until later, much later, that I made sense of what was previously confusing and chaotic. Previously mysterious. I’ve come to understand that there are warning signs to signal what might be coming, and guidelines to follow to prevent the very same “what” that might come. It doesn’t always make sense; this analogy isn’t perfect. Still, I understand what I can understand, which I can extrapolate a bit to reach the ways I can make my opposite poles work for me.
First, I’ll need to revisit the somewhat beneficial aspects of bipolar disorder. I worked hard to weed through the detrimental aspects to find the beneficial ones, and I’m proud to say I found quite a few. So I’m excited to be citing them here: creativity, empathy, compassion, the ability to feel wholly and completely, fierce resilience, and the strong friendships I’ve built because of these traits.
So how can I put the forces of my bipolar disorder to good use? I mean, my daily life is the way it is largely because of the disorder. This might seem like a fairly negative thing, particularly when I look back to how my wild reactivity, tendency toward overexcitement, drastic changes in energy, and sudden mood changes have caused, for lack of a better phrase, utter chaos. But are those things wholly and completely negative? My reactivity, my ultra-hyper response to stimuli, brings with it a certain quick emotional reflex that can help me discern my true emotions. My excitable nature gives me a passionate determination that helps at work and in my personal life. Having too much energy and then not enough, flying high and then plunging low makes me appreciate what I have at the moment, and such a perspective is immeasurably useful in life. Yeah, I know. A bit of a stretch. But my point is that technology progressed when we utilized magnetic power, so can I grow as a person by putting my inherent traits to good use. It requires thinking outside the box, that’s for damn sure, but fuck, we’ve gotta find the silver lining.
The next step, I believe, is learning how to pull apart the two when they’re all mixed up together, tangled in a messy cluster of wires going every which way. It’s a matter of figuring it out as I go along, I guess. But there’s an answer out there, a solution to the struggles bipolar comes with. It’s science. It’s life.