“can you ever be normal with bipolar?”

19 Mar

Do I look not normal? Do I sound not normal?

on second thought….don’t answer that.


I consider myself high functioning. Any doctor I ever had always expressed surprise and shock at the fact that I’ve been able to hold my jobs unmedicated.

I suppose they’ve never really heard of the ability to compartmentalize things. The ability to soldier on despite pain, or suffering or debilitating unfocus. The ability to pretend.

Girls are good at this sort of thing.

I look normal. A bit weird, but I seem fine and well to most people most days. I laugh, I snort, I read books, I do my job. Most days I am normal.

You don’t seem crazy when you sit quietly and fight the delusion that the world is going to end and you should go stockpile food and water. You don’t seem crazy when you’re quietly telling yourself you don’t want to die. You don’t seem crazy when you’re quiet.

Aside from those days, I’m just like everyone else. I live my life. I take my pills. I sleep little.

Normal is a relative thing after all.


I suppose one could say that I will never be “normal”-if the context of normal means never having to take pills to not hit things and never needing to watch my sleep patterns in order to make sure that I don’t get stupidly hypo manic. If normal means never having delusions or hearing strange voices or noises, then no, I’ll never be normal.

Are you normal with cancer? Heart Disease? Diabetes? No?

I will always be sick. It’s the one constant in my life. I will always have a chronic disease that can interfere with my normal life-with my job, with my marriage, with my parenting. I will always be “not-normal” because of this. I will be different. I will react to screaming children or smart alec husbands in different ways than others. But so do many people who aren’t sick.

My normal is your weird. My normal is fighting internal voices, my normal is countering the cackling bitter manic woman with calm placid thought. And I’m fine with that.

You’ll never be who you thought you’d be. But no one is. In my case, I believe I’m someone much better than I would have been if I was “normal”. I’m me.

11 Responses to ““can you ever be normal with bipolar?””

  1. my sad alter ego March 19, 2008 at 11:31 am #

    Did someone really ask you that?

  2. thordora March 19, 2008 at 11:37 am #

    That was a search hit. I get all kinds of stuff.

  3. mercurial scribe March 19, 2008 at 2:08 pm #

    Normal. I’ve always wondered what that meant. I think I’ve just achieved my level of comfortable – my disease is medicated enough to where I’m in control and I get to make my choices, not some chemically induced mood that has no reasonable physiological basis in reality.

    Hehe. Normal. What’s that?

  4. kate March 19, 2008 at 2:39 pm #

    While others may not have a medical diagnosis or take medication, if we’re honest with ourselves, we are ALL flawed and crazy and insecure and cruel and paranoid. What matters is that we ARE honest with ourselves and with those who love us (or just have to tolerate us.) Personally, I’ll take “crazy” over “normal” any day!

    Thank you for sharing this. After years of struggling, my lovely and talented 19yo niece was recently diagnosed as Bi-Polar. I think I’ll send her the link for you blog.


  5. kate March 19, 2008 at 2:44 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing this. My lovely and talented 19yo niece was recently diagnosed as Bi-Polar. I think I’ll send her the link to your blog.

    We are all terribly flawed and crazy and insecure and cruel and paranoid, although not all of us hear voices or struggle so constantly to “maintain”. I applaud your honesty with yourself and with us. Keep writing!!


  6. thordora March 19, 2008 at 2:51 pm #

    19. I wish I would have had the proper diagnosis at that age. Would have saved everyone a LOT of trouble. 🙂

    Send her over, and tell her I’m more than willing to speak over email if she ever needs an ear.

  7. kate March 19, 2008 at 4:19 pm #

    damn it. I posted twice. grrrr.

    Thanks for the offer. She is SUCH a great kid and she struggles so constantly trying to fit into society. I think it would be very helpful for her to “talk” to you. Who knows if she’ll follow through 🙂 but I’ll pass on the info.

  8. exactscience March 19, 2008 at 4:43 pm #

    I struggle with this notion of normal, or rather my Dad does. I get that this disease means that some days all I can bear to do is stare at the walls and other does all I can do is bounce off them. I am relatively stable now I am on meds, but I’d be entirely remiss to not watch my sleep patterns or even worse stop being med-compliant, because this won’t go away. My paradigm for normal shifted, I am just waiting for others to catch up

  9. marcelarhodus March 19, 2008 at 7:32 pm #

    like a friend of mine always says “normal people are weird”

  10. Hannah March 19, 2008 at 8:45 pm #

    Yeah, what is normal, really… I mean, our whole family used to joke that the last thing we were was “normal” and thank god for it!

    It’s sad that someone had to do a random internet search for the answer to that question. How very lonely that person must be – whether they are bipolar themselves or if they were asking about a loved one.

  11. thordora March 20, 2008 at 8:03 am #

    It’s likely born from frustration-living with someone like me can be challenging at best.

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