January 9, 2020

To Those with Bipolar Disorder - A Final Unapologetic Message

As promised in yesterday’s blog post, today I begin sharing my final, unapologetic words to the world, one personal message at a time. This message, my first message, contains my final words and thoughts to those with bipolar disorder.

Dear friends,

I am 39-years-old, about to turn 40. It was only last summer that I was diagnosed with Type 2 bipolar disorder, but looking back there is no doubt I have had the disorder since at least my late teen years. I may only now have a label for it, but I know the illness very well. I’m sure you do, too.

Or do you?

Friends, it’s an illness and a disorder of the mind. That’s all.

It’s an illness and a disorder with a very real negative stigma surrounding it, sure, but I promise there is nothing actually wrong with you. You are as nature made you, your mind functions as your genetics intended it to work. You simply don’t fit within the mental human bell curve, that’s all, and that is no reason to hide from the world.

You will experience extended periods of joy and elation that those who do not have bipolar disorder will never get to experience.

You will experience periods of darkness and despair that would drown the common person.

I’m guessing that the only state of mind you have a hard time truly understanding is that middle ground that the rest of the world walks around in, trying to understand it in their own very different way of thinking and feeling.

Even with medicine, you will still experience these ups sometimes, and you will still experience these downs. When you do experience them, remember what I am about to tell you.

Those ups and those downs are your nature-given moments to bring something different or amazing to the world.

I want you to do me a favor if you don’t do this already…

Whether you’re drowning in the downs or swimming excitedly through the ups, force yourself to reach a hand out next time you’re there and grab hold of a pencil or a paintbrush.

Dive in and turn whatever thoughts you are feeling into art. Unapologetically write down the words that accompany your feelings of injustice or the seemingly unaligned stimuli in the world around you. Dig deep to a place of honesty and perspective that only you will ever feel.

This is achieved most honestly and most intensely when you give into the shift toward your manic or depressed states that you feel happening inside of your mind (which you likely cannot stop) and do not try to censor whatever creative thing it is that is going to come out of your imbalanced mind once you get there.

What you create in those moments doesn’t have to be perfect or even good. Just grab some paper, grab a pencil or a paintbrush, and unload it all. Then do it again the next time your mind shifts. Then force yourself to do it the next time after that, too. Keep doing it until you absolutely have to do it every time you become manic or depressed, and never be ashamed of what comes spilling out of you.

In my opinion (from my own experience), you must learn to do this in order to channel your mental swings into powerful moments that you can appreciate for yourself, or share with others, instead of letting those swings push you to do the unhealthy things they usually push bipolar people to do.

Bipolar disorder is a real asshole, as you know. It makes you do or say things, over which you literally have no control. It traps you in impossible moments that you fear might not ever end yet you have no desire to escape them. It takes over your life, for whatever period of time it chooses, and you get your mind and life back only when the disorder is ready to give it back, not when you choose.

Because of this, you’re probably going to hurt the people you truly love from time to time. In fact, it’s almost a certainty.

If there are people you love in your life, take your fucking meds like clockwork. I haven’t even been on bipolar medicine that long, and I already hate those fucking pills as much as you do, I promise. Living in the middle of that bell curve sure seems like a mundane existence after four decades of living and creating in the valleys and peaks. But I have started the meds religiously, they really do help, and you should stay on them as well. Resist the urge to give them up.

The action of taking your meds is you doing your part, and controlling one of the only things that you can control with this disorder. If you love anyone that is a constant part of your life, you owe them consistency because humans can only be hurt so many times before they abandon the thing that is hurting them so frequently. I know I’m tired of hurting people, aren’t you?

You can control whether or not you take your pills. The rest of your disorder can’t be controlled. Not by you, not by anyone. You know that. I know that. But the people you are with don’t necessarily know that.

Get rid of the stigma surrounding bipolar disorder, starting with those you love most. You do that by talking about it with them more honestly than you ever have before.

Digest and confess the terrible things you have done to others because of your disorder.

Apologize for anything you have done to them, and apologize sincerely.

Do not ever promise you won’t hurt them again. It’s not a promise you can keep.

Instead, communicate with them. With brutal honesty while your brain is functioning in that normal zone, dissect all the things you tend to do when you are triggered with your disorder, and all the ways you tend to sabotage your situation or your relationships, and make a plan of how you will get through those moments when you are triggered.

Looking back at my own actions, I tend to just up and get rid of my dogs (that I love) for no good reason when I am triggered by my bipolar disorder. So, after I was diagnosed, I was honest with myself and the rest of the world, and I made a plan. If I suddenly find myself wanting my dog gone, I will immediately pay whatever cost necessary to check her into a boarding facility until my mind returns to normal.

Also looking back, I tend to get rid of the people I truly love and am in relationships with when I am triggered. I do drastic and hurtful things that I cannot control, and I do those things out of seemingly nowhere. I burn the bridge beyond repair, I do it in a flash, and without fail those relationships end. How do I fix that in the future? I will very openly communicate with anyone I love in the future. I will educate them that those moments are coming and that they are inevitable. We will make a plan for space and time to let my mind get through the swing when it does happen. We will look the monster dead in the eyes before it ever comes out to play, and we will be the ones to tell it who the fucking alpha is.

You have an illness and a disorder of the mind, my friend. That is all. You can still live a beautiful and fulfilling life.

That disorder brings so much power and beauty to the world when you learn to both embrace and channel those ups and downs until you can escape them.

It also brings chaos and pain. For better or worse, this is your balanced existence.

Don’t try to hide your disorder from the world. Try not to be embarrassed by it. Definitely don’t let the disorder define you.

We must work together to get rid of the overall negative stigma surrounding bipolar disorder and we must do our part to keep love in our lives and thrive. That is how we get rid of the stigma. We don’t let the fucking disorder win.

You’re so fucking beautiful with that fucked up brain of yours. The disorder doesn’t have to be a curse. It doesn’t have to destroy you. You deserve lasting love as much as anyone else. You deserve good and loyal friends. You are worthy of having HAPPINESS in your life.

Come out of the bipolar closet and own what your mind is and who you are already.

Share all the ways your disorder makes you incredible and powerful.

Talk openly about the dark sides of the disorder and the utter lack of control you experience. Ask to be accepted anyway when those dark sides do present themselves.

If we all learn how to share and learn how to accept the disorder in all of its disaster and glory, the stigma will slowly begin to disappear and those with bipolar will begin to have a (slightly) more normal human experience.

So many of us really do create and accomplish so many incredible things with our bipolar disorder.

Take me, for example. I have had the disorder for decades, and I built a following of millions of followers. I have written and published several books. I have been on talk shows and radio shows. I have been paid to speak in public. I have created thousands of works of art. I have many close and meaningful relationships. I am a really good and involved dad. I am funny and known to be a clown. I never have trouble finding friends to spend time with me. My family still loves me. Many different women have fallen in love with me over the years. I have succeeded in so many ways, despite having bipolar disorder. In fact, I would dare say that much of that only happened because of the bipolar disorder.

Now look at yourself. If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, then you have had bipolar disorder for a while now. Stop thinking of all the ways it cripples you or impedes your life, and instead start listing all the ways your life has been incredible or all the things you have accomplished in spite of it (or because of it). I promise there is more than you probably will think at first.

When your bipolar brain triggers, write down your most truthful words. Create your most truthful art. Build something from the ground up for yourself or for someone you love.

You can’t change yourself or your disorder. There is no cure for it. So, learn to embrace it and communicate about it instead of running from it and hiding from it.

In your darkness, I love you. In your manic episodes, I love you.

These are my final, unapologetic words to all of you in the world with bipolar disorder. Tomorrow I will share my final message with those who love those of us who have the disorder. It’s a very different message than what I shared today.

Dan Pearce | Dan Pearce Was Here (formerly Single Dad Laughing)