Cast your mind back to the time you first suspected you may have had bipolar. Chances are that the realization did not come out of the blue. If your experience is anything like mine, you probably weren’t exactly leading a charmed life to begin with, even if it looked that way from the outside. On the inside, you were probably barely holding it together, and this had been going on for years. In retrospect, something had to give.
Or, maybe you were different than the rest. All your life, you never fit in. You were marching to a different drummer. Maybe you thought that things would change the next year, that all your problems would go away with your next growth spurt. But, of course, that never happened. Looking back, you didn’t have a chance.
One of the first things I wrote soon after being diagnosed with bipolar at age 49 was an essay entitled, When I First Knew I Was Different. I published it on my website in late 2000 and recently used it in my book, “Raccoons Respect My Piss But Watch Out for Skunks.” The short version: I knew I was different from the others at the tender age of six.
By age 12, depressions were a fact of life. I wasn’t coping too well with my world, and things only seemed to get worse with each succeeding year. I went off to college, full of hope and promise, only to crash and burn. We never see it coming, of course.
But, crazy thing, I was also strangely gifted, imaginative bordering on psychic. On one hand, growing up, I desperately wanted to fit in. On the other, considering all the dullards abound me, why would I want to?
So, here we all are, with this diagnosis called bipolar. Only it didn’t just come out of nowhere. Our illness didn’t just interrupt our otherwise completely normal lives. Things had been brewing beneath the surface for years and years, probably for as long as we can remember. Basically, for most of our lives, well before it became official, we were bipolar waiting to happen.
There is a question in this:
Looking back, when was it clear that you were different, having problems coping, or strangely gifted?
Extra credit: Describe an early experience.
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