There are some things bipolar people do very well. Like all others, including bipolar people like myself, there are some things we do rather poorly. I guess I've ridden that "this or that" roller coaster at least three or four times in my life so far. The good news though is that I don't recall ever a boring moment. Some days I wake up feeling like I have the ambition and requisite executive skills for eliminating something the size and depth of world hunger, and then there are those other mornings when simply making it out of bed and remembering to put the milk back in the refrigerator, is the best I can muster.
I don't want to minimize the negative effect bipolar symptoms have on a person, or suggest at all that there might be some redeeming value in the experience of manic depression, but I am attempting to suggest that having bipolar is not a catch-all for all things bad. A great many people diagnosed with bipolar have gone on -- and continue to go on -- in creating a great many amazing contributions to the world. It's been well documented that Abraham Lincoln, the man who took on probably the largest paradigm shift in all of humanity, suffered from the symptoms of bipolar. Then when one adds other bipolar people like Mozart, Beethoven, Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Dick Cavett, Richard Dreyfuss, Patrick Kennedy, the dark yet brilliant Friedrich Nietzsche, the recently diagnosed Catherine Zeta Jones, and even Florence Nightingale to the mix, it makes the suggestion more difficult to refute.
Everyone knows a bipolar person. Yet, unlike a hundred other manageable diseases, bipolar remains a kind of thing no one really knows what to say or how to ask about. If there is an onset of compassion it's more times than not trumped by fear, and then, of course, by silence. In that scenario, one that I lived a thousand times, the silence for me is unbearably deafening.
I'd like to leave the world a hundred years from now realistically positioning bipolar in a much different light than it is now. I'd like to see a day when the subject becomes an interesting and open conversation. I'd like to see a day when the general opinion of it would be no less worthy of compassion than any other disease. Yes, I wish like hell I didn't have the highs and lows of bipolar symptoms getting in the way as it does at times, but then again, when it comes to health issues, none of us get a free pass.