So, last night, the weirdest thing happened. My mother and I, with my husband at my back, had a fairly frank conversation about my bipolar.
I don’t even remember how it started. We were talking about my brother, and the way that he and my SIL run their lives and their marriage. That is of course their business, whether I agree with it or not. The conversation morphed into my mother being afraid that my brother and I valued our lives by how much money we have. And, as far as my brother is concerned, I think she’s right. But as far as me, she was wrong. Very wrong.
Soon she came around to the point that she’s worried that I undervalue myself in general. Part of it is because I’ve had several active suicidal ideation incidents in the last few years. Three hospitalizations in six years. So, she’s become concerned that I don’t think that I’m a good person. Or that I think I have no value to other people.
So, I explained suicidal ideation to her. I explained that the thoughts and the feelings that we start to have when we are starting to feel suicidal are the thoughts and feelings that the disease creates. When everything passes, whether I’m hospitalized or not, I can look back on those thoughts and feelings and see how wrong they were.
Because I do have value. To myself and to other people. And I know that.
Where money comes into the equation for me, is that I can’t work and contribute to the household bank account. It’s not because I’m not rich.
I explained why I hate the word “depression” and have chosen (when I remember) to use the words “Bipolar Despair”. Because “despair” is more accurate. The word depression is both overused, and improperly used.
And she listened. And it made her sad. And I don’t want to make her sad, but I also want her to understand.
But her major concern was that I don’t undervalue myself. She wants to know that I love who I am and that I understand that the people who love me, love me for who I am.
And I’m glad that I was able to convince her to some extent that I do. I know I’m a good friend and a good wife and a good person. I know that. Unfortunately, the disease of bipolar sometimes convinces me that I’m not. And I can’t help that. But I can look back on things once I feel better and see that those thoughts were produced by bipolar. Not by me.
It was a good conversation. I was glad that we had it. I was surprised, but glad.
I have also decided that I’m going to try to start referring to bipolar as a disease as much as possible. A disease is something that people understand a little better then a mental illness. A brain disease or condition is something that is a little harder to argue about. Not impossible, but harder. If you have a disease it makes the conversation slightly easier. It’s harder to argue about a disease. And it takes the discussion off of what you’re not doing to just suck it up and puts the discussion a little closer to something that you can’t help.
But remember to value yourself. Everyone has someone that would be devastated without you. Everyone is important. Everyone matters.