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03/20/2010 02:29 PM

Where does the Bi-Polar end and I begin?


I read in many of the posts and hear from therapists that I shouldn't define myself by my illness. Even though I understand on an intellectual level that I am more than a diagnosis, sometimes it is hard to tell just where the illness starts and I begin. In many ways, my BP-II determines what I can and cannot do or when I can and cannot do it. Is anyone else out there struggling with this dilemma? How are you reconciling it in your own lives?

03/20/2010 02:50 PM
Posts: 3261
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I'm an Advocate

That's a really good--and tough--question. In my early twenties I believe I was fairly stable, and for brief periods throughout the years. At least I'm noticing similarities in timeframes more with how I'm feeling now. Then again, one thing I've really worked hard on is coming to terms with my past, so in analyzing that I can spot patterns of what I believe is "normalcy" amidst all of the BS.

I don't know if that could help you, to kind of dissect your life as I did, but maybe it could be of some use as to what patterns and traits become apparent. Maybe others will come up with some ideas, as well, but this has worked for me, albeit in a backhanded way.


03/20/2010 04:37 PM
Posts: 7033
VIP Member
I'm an Advocate

I have this exact same problem. In the past I thought that the hypomanic me was the real me. Now I don't know who I am. Until I am totally recovered from the past 4 years, I will not know who I really am.

I am anxious to read the answers to this post myself.

03/20/2010 05:16 PM

What prompted me to write this question is that people write things like, "That wasn't your boyfriend, it was the Bi-Polar" when someone writes about a difficult experience they're dealing with on the forum. But, aren't we still responsible for what we do? Legally we are. If I charge up a bunch of stuff when I'm manic, I still have to pay for it. If I say something and hurt someone's feelings, isn't that me, too? Aren't I the highs and the lows? This is where it gets hard sometimes...

03/20/2010 06:24 PM
Posts: 143

this is indeed very complex...I was a bit shocked when I was diagnosed because then I became a thing, a label, rather than a person. I can see now why the doctors here don't like to come straight out and label people.

To be honest, I don't know where one ends and the other starts. Troubling!

03/21/2010 09:10 AM
RobsBabyPosts: 91

Maybe think about it this way...if you were diagnosed with cancer you would say "I HAVE cancer" not "I AM cancer"...right? Bipolar is a disorder, disease..whatever. You don't BECOME it once you finally have a diagnosis. You just have something to call the BEAST that has been controlling your life for however long you suffered before diagnosis and treatment.

So, I like to say, "I suffer from bipolar"...and that is an understatement, isn't it?

03/21/2010 01:08 PM
Posts: 10

Wow...what a great question. I've asked myself this many, many times and I still don't have an answer. I overanalyze EVERYTHING and this topic still confounds me. Intellectually I understand that this is a disorder but so much of how I see myself is a result of the effects of this disorder and the chaos that it has created in my life. And better yet, how do you explain this to family and friends who are scared when you try to talk to them about the disorder in the first place or who believe its all just an excuse you use to do things or act in ways they don't understand? Its very frustrating...I am very interested to see other responses to this discussion.

03/21/2010 02:25 PM
Posts: 2378
Senior Member


A good friend of mine, who use to belong to this site, posted basically the same question. I can vividly remember when my BP symptoms appeared(3rd grade) but it was not until age 27 that I was diagnosed with a mental illness and not until I was 39 when I was diagnosed properly. In my opinion, BP disorder symptoms and signs are such an ingrained part of us that we are our disorder to a certain degree. Not everyone displays the same symptoms and everyones upbringing is different, not to mention that there are societal norms to live up to.

My BP disorder affects me daily but does not define me as an individual! I am different then anyone on this forum sans the fact that we have similar symptoms. I prize my idividuality! I look back on my life and parts of it I loathe, and parts of it I am extremely proud of!

I think this question is excellent because it keeps me thinking, period. I want to be the average Joe, and who says I am not? Me some days and everyone else other days.

Thanks for the introspective analysis! Absolutely imperative if we are to be survivors!

03/21/2010 02:27 PM
Posts: 26

Post edited by: MarkzGurl, at: 03/22/2010 01:32 AM

03/21/2010 02:55 PM
Posts: 13
New Member

i can look back and see that from the months of January to March in my past for the last 10 years I have been in hypermode. Going and Going little to no sleep. Cycling. Then just last year my Dr's evaluated me for bp 2. They said it was highly probable. they tried several medicines trying to "fix" my problems. I know that looking back that yes I was having symptoms. So this year I knew the time of year was coming and I emotionally prepared for it. I had a few symptoms this year but not like I have had in the past. Sometimes just knowing your cycle knowing your symptoms and seeing them coming helps

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