Opening Post

What is Normal?

You know those warnings that used to interrupt your TV shows that said, “This is a test. This is only a test…” Well, I’ve heard it in a different, more humorous way: “Life is a test. It is only a test. If it were real, we would have been given better directions.”

“Given better directions…” I don’t know about you, but when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, all I got was a pamphlet from my doctor: “Now That You Have Bipolar Disorder…” which took me less than five minutes to read, and left me with more questions than answers! If I hadn’t found, I would probably still be wandering around in circles, looking for better directions!

One of the things David Oliver advocates on his website is to gain knowledge about bipolar disorder and as quickly as you can once you’re diagnosed, because knowledge is power. Being empowered enables you to get “better directions.” The more you know about bipolar disorder, the more you will know about how you can manage the disorder, and that’s what leads to stability, which should be your goal.

Stability is one of the “better directions” that enables you to lead a better, more productive, successful, “normal” life. But what is “normal”? Erma Bombeck says that normal is just another setting on your dryer! I don’t think I’ve ever felt “normal,” even before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I think normal is just what is normal for each one of us. What is normal for me is not necessarily what is normal for you and vice-versa.

But what is normal for someone with bipolar disorder? Psychiatrists count it as that stage between depression and mania, and that is different for each person. It is simply a scale by which we gauge our mood swings.

For me, “normal” is who I am when I’m not in an episode. To society, “normal” is a person who “fits in,” who doesn’t stand out in any way, who obeys the rules, who is basically mediocre, who “colors between the lines,” never drawing attention to himself. In other words, a description usually not befitting a person with bipolar disorder – especially not a high functioning person with bipolar disorder.

People with high functioning bipolar disorder are more intelligent, creative, definitely not the “norm,” and in a manic episode do tend to draw attention to themselves. I can only speak for myself, but, as far as coloring between the lines, well, I was more prone to color a completely different picture (the one I “saw” inside my head)!

But I’m trying to help you see that not being “normal ” by society’s standards is a positive thing! Those of us who have not fit in in a traditional office setting have thrived in a home-based business because of having bipolar disorder!

Try to see things from a positive point of view. I’m not trying to say that having bipolar disorder is the greatest thing that has ever happened to you. But if you can take the challenge and make it work for you instead of against you, you will be more successful and more stable and that is the real goal, not trying to fit in or be “normal.”

Wishing you joy and stability,

Remember God loves you and so do I,

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