Too many people are striving for perfection. It’s understandable, isn’t it? Every time you turn on the TV, you’re blasted with commercials showing the perfect body (both male and female), the perfect home, the perfect job, the perfect life.

I’ve dealt with people who have Bipolar Disorder and they feel like they’re “damaged goods,” just because they have this disorder. They feel like just because they have a “broken brain,” that they’re somehow broken, too. But that’s a wrong concept.

Some of the people with Bipolar Disorder that I deal with have a great attitude. They’re what we call “high-functioning.” They’ve accepted that, in spite of the fact that they have this disorder, they won’t let it stop them from accomplishing what they want to accomplish in life. I have a lot of respect for these people. They have a lot to teach me, and all of us.

But some of the other people I’ve seen with Bipolar Disorder, like some people in the Bipolar Support Group I attend, well, it’s a really sad story. It’s like they let the disorder defeat them. You know how I talk about the difference between having Bipolar Disorder instead of being bipolar in my courses. And I think that’s a really strong difference. It’s the difference between you being master over the disorder or the disorder mastering you.

So many people think that just because they have Bipolar Disorder, that it makes them fundamentally ill, just because they have a mental illness, and they can never get better. I think this is because of two reasons. The first reason is because it is called a “mental illness.”

Even though we have come a long way in the education and treatment of mental illness, it still has a lot of stigma attached to it. Even for people who actually have Bipolar Disorder, I’ve found in talking to so many of them, that in the beginning, they know so little about it. So for the families especially, they also don’t know very much about it, if they know anything at all. That’s why I tell people to learn as much about it as they can, and why I offer the courses that I do.

The second reason that people think that just because they have Bipolar Disorder that it makes them fundamentally ill is that it is incurable. But one of the first things they should learn is that even though it can’t be cured, Bipolar Disorder can be managed. With medication and therapy, anyone with the disorder can live a relatively normal life.

I think people confuse normal with perfect. And even so, it’s important to know that it’s ok NOT to be perfect, whether you have Bipolar Disorder or not! I heard a saying that I like a lot: “Why be normal, when I can just be ME?” Why do we have to keep trying to be like those “perfect” people we see on commercials? Nobody is perfect! It’s ok just to be YOU!