Are there any benefits to bipolar for you?
Yes, a few. But I’m learning to sort out which “benefits” are truly deficits.
I always looked forward to mania…until I was diagnosed.
What I now know as being mania was something I knew in the back of my head would happen again — eventually. And I viewed it as a break from months upon months of crushing depression. I had normalized 3-6+ weeks of high energy, blacking out, not sleeping, being productive, having a seemingly infinite amount of energy. Mania feels great…briefly. But what goes up must, eventually, come down. And come down it does. I have a mortal, human, body. Human bodies need sleep or things start going badly. Brains break down. The irony is that it’s my brain that causes the crisis in the first place. By giving me signals that I don’t need sleep, my brain is essentially self-destructing. The lack of sleep leads to hallucinations and a slew of other behaviors I can’t control. Because I don’t remember what I did, I’m more likely to do something completely out of character, and therefore irrational. And I have.
The confidence I get from mania can seem like a benefit…but is it? It’s temporary. That manic-confidence leads me to sleeping with the wrong girl, usually without protection. It leads me to taking risks that I normally wouldn’t. I’ll gamble, blow my entire savings, be financially irresponsible. I’m on top of the world, remember? There’s no consequences!
But even while being aware of what I’m living with, part of me still looks forward to that burst of energy.
A benefit of depression is that I’m able to make seemingly more rational decisions because I step back. But do I really have the energy to care? I use to think of mania as the benefit to depression. It’s not, as I’ve just elaborated on.
Perhaps I’ll get a scholarship to return to school or something and the government will take me seriously while I’m too sick to work. I might be able to get a little more time to memorize music or have the disAbility services office do their jobs when it comes to the Americans With disAbilities Act. Yippee.
So no, I don’t really see any benefits besides learning to be stronger despite of my mental illness. Having to work harder just to get on even ground with my peers who aren’t mentally ill.