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BRUTALLY FRANK: The Manic Side of Bipolar Disorder

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By Francis Baraan IV

Since being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder back in 2011, my life has been a rollercoaster ride of euphoric, grandiose highs & dark, cloudy lows. Last Saturday, I shared my struggles with the depression part of my mental health condition. Today, I will talk about the manic side. So, fasten your seatbelts, because my thoughts are now racing. I won’t be proofreading, editing, or caring about essay composition or some pedantic grammatical rule now, because I would like to show you what it’s like to be unfiltetered and uninhibited—and a tad bit unhinged.

First things, first. Contrary to what most believe, bipolars are not violent. We are not psychos like, you know, a guy named Rodrigo. We just feel a bit more than the next person. Often, we label someone moody, unstable, erratic, or emotional as bipolar. Honestly, I don’t get offended; others do, though.

You see, for every person who is at peace with his diagnosis, someone else lives with the stigma & shame society attaches to mental health illnesses. Words cut deep. Words have the power to heal, or the power to hurt. Words can either be cathartic, or it can be destructive. You don’t have to have mental health illness to be able to feel the struggles & pain of someone battling inner demons.

All you have to have is a little more compassion.

I’m grateful to have the insight I now have after years of therapy, medication, & emotional support from friends & family. But not everyone is as lucky.

Sometimes, a simple how are you or a genuine smile could turn someone suffering from eternal nights of despair into hope-filled sunny days.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to sound like I am romanticizing mental illness—not at all. I just want to share w/ everyone that I am OK today. And I want people like me to know that there will be days when you don’t feel like getting out of bed, taking a shower, or eating at all, days like the one I had like last Saturday. But there are days like this one—days when I feel invincible, unperturbed by any stressor, inspired, unfazed by the uncertain future. These are the days I am ebullient w/ a spitfire ball of energy–thoughts racing, pregnant w/ creativity–my mind skyrocketing from 1 genius idea to another.

OK. Wait. I have a confession to make. The thing is, I don’t remember how I began this column, nor do I remember what I said 2 sentences ago. But this is one of the gifts I cherish the most: these waves of prolific ramblings, these spurts of manic musings.

I don’t care how I started, and I don’t care how I will end this column. All that matters is the process – this wonderful creative writing process. These impassioned, literary awakenness are the times I look forward to.

When melancholy visits me, it feels like the skies are caving in; gray, heavy clouds closing in. When happiness eludes me, all seems devoid of meaning, of purpose.
I hate it. But the truth is, I also need it: depression. Without it, my manic highs wouldn’t feel as euphoric. Depression makes me appreciate life more; it makes me cherish the sweet-nothings a little stronger. The smallest gesture of kindness a lot more powerful, moving, profound, nostalgic, remarkable, memorable.

Without mania, I will not feel deep sadnesss or loneliness as strongly as I do. Conversely, without depression, I will not feel infinite gratefulness or joy as harder as I do.

Bipolar is a gift; it is also a curse.

But it is what it is–just another fact of life—my life.

And all I can do is take the good w/ the bad, the glorious w/ the horrendous, the happy with the sad, through mania and depression, in crazy & in sanity, through thick & thin, for richer and mostly poorer, because bipolar people can be very impulsive spenders. So, now, I am back to being a princely pauper. And that is why Britney Spears’ conservatorship of her finances have been granted by a judge to her family. But l’ll save the topic of impulsivity during mania for another time. Thinking about how much I have spent on the most useless of things would just make me feel depressed.


Anyway, what was I talking about before Britney, again? See, this is what happens when my mind is running a mile per minute.

On a more serious note, though, I would like people to know that bipolar disorder is not the absence of order. It is not confusion or chaos. It it is none of those during a manic episode. In fact, it is quite the opposite — it is heightened creativity, empathy, grandiosity, certainty, passion, purpose, hyperfocus, and clarity.

Call it confirmation bias or what-not, but Aristotle was so bloody damn right:

“For every ounce of genius, there is a tinge of madness.”

Hey. Today, I am a genius. Tomorrow, I could be another miserable wanker. So, let me have my day.

Today is my day.

Do me a favor. Let us not rain on my parade, OK?

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