Friday, March 10, 2006

Overidentification Part 2

Read PART 1 first.

So here's the bad news: For every positive I wrote about identifying closely with your BiPolar diagnosis, there's a Flipside:

  • Sometimes your lethargic depression IS just a case of laziness. We ALL need self-discipline and at times you DO just have to buck up.
  • Sometimes your sudden outburst of anger cannot be excused as a manic symptom.
  • Snap with your flirting and philandering.
  • Sometimes your depression IS because you're in the wrong relationship and it's time to move on.
  • Insert "Career" and "Place where you live" in place of "relationship" above.
  • Sometimes you DO need to measure yourself, a normal human being (believe it or not) against other normal human beings

And sometimes ignorance is bliss. I spoke yesterday about all the disadvantages I personally experienced in NOT identifying with my BiPolar. Well here were some of the advantages:

  • I built up a very successful business over 5 years which I sold for cash. I can see now that during that period I had stabilised at a slightly hypomanic state. But at the time I didn't need to know that "I had stabilised at a slightly hypomanic state"it. I just did it.
  • I never ever conceived of myself as ever having any kind of limits (let alone "disabilities"). I believed I could compete against the best in very competitive environments and could acheive whatever I set my mind to. Which ALWAYS gives you a head start.
  • I never made excuses. If you have to get out of bed, you have to get out of bed - like every other friggin' animal on the planet.
  • If I splashed out on over-the-top spending sprees, it was reckless and stupid behaviour, not "Oh shame, he had a little episode of mania"

If you're thoroughly confused now (provided that you read PART 1 of this rant), then join the club. Members Only.

The moral of the story, I guess, is to find a balance between the OVER and UNDER parts of identification. Which is exactly what BiPolars fall down on. We're always over or under everyone else. But I suppose if you're not identifying too closely with your BiPolar diagnosis, you wouldn't be aware of this, so balance would be that much easier to acheive. (Get your BiPolar head around that one!)

PART 3 soon...


  1. So that's what it's called! Been thinking a lot about the same thing lately.

    Surely viewing everything in your life in terms of bipolar is an unbalanced way of doing things, which is something i'm admittedly very guilty of.

    That is the problem with us BP folk, getting the balance right. Finding the middle road between blaming everything that goes wrong in your life on BP, and blaming everything that goes wrong in your life on yourself.

  2. I'm hoping that part 3 has a red smilely face at the end of the post:) Take care, Elisa:)
    P.S. My daughter with BP, would really relate to this!

  3. Well what I have done myself in regards to this kind of stuff is forgiven myself for the past, when i didnt KNOW I was bi-polar and why i was acting the way that I was and now I try and take responsibility. I try to remain VERY aware of my ilness and the effects it has on my thinking. Therefore when I become angry, I force myself to sit on it for a few days, think about it and see if its justified. When I suddenly decide its a great idea to order all that stuff out of the catalogs, I go ahead and fill out the orders but I dont send them for a couple weeks. give myself time to really evaluate it in another frame of mind, etc etc etc. In other words, I work on NOT immediately acting on feelings that my be suspect. Of course if my kid is hospitalized, Im going to act immediately on something like that, but anger, resentment, shopping, sexual impulses (at least before I was in a stable relationship) etc, all that could wait. And forcing myself to delay gratification for just a little while gave me time to think things thru and be sure it was ME and real feelings or needs causing whatever it was rather than the bi-polar. It may not work every single time in every situation, but with practice, it helps to avoid alot of grief

  4. I've lived with the diagnosis for a third of my life now, so I'm not sure whether I over- or under-identify. Like Raine, however, I'm familiar with my symptoms and as such, have learned to curb my impulses.

    I'm also learning to identify my moods. For the most part, I can tell the difference between feeling "sad" or being "depressed."

  5. Over half my life has been spent bi-polar, and perhaps I have been under-identifying. Is it possible to be cured, or is it like alcoholism where a relapse is always possible if not inevitable? I don't even think about symptoms anymore. How much to cultural factors contribute, by the way? I have been relatively symptom-free living the past nine years here in South Korea, far away from the cultural melange that is Toronto.

  6. This hit me on a bad day. Having a "guilt day" after someone attacked me in group.

    I don't know that we have to think like this to get well. Reframing is supposed to goad us towards positives, not pinch us with negatives.

  7. VERY clear thinking. You covered all my points and much more.

    I am in a place where I am trying to identify what is really wrong with me, I don't curently have a diagnosis to overidentify with. And I am gratful for that...

    I loved the post. Wonderfully on target and beautifully concise and incisive. I have overidentified with bipolar disorder for 8 years and it is relief to let go.


  8. to kodeureum to my knowledge there is no cure for bi-polar and it is considered to be a genetic illness. not caused by cultural considerations or trauma tho trauma or stress will trigger the synptoms. I am not a professional- this is just how I understand it

  9. Anonymous08 May, 2006

    I think you have to accept your mental illness but not let it define you and I am a strong believer in this, meaning you do what you need to take care of yourself but you do not make it your life exsitance


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