By Patrick L.

“Broken” is the word I would use if I had to sum up bipolar in a single word.  It seems unflattering and a little harsh, but it not all bad. In reality, from the outside looking in, most people would not notice how broken someone can be suffering from this type of mental illness.  Most of us become professionals at hiding how broken we are. This is also where the danger hides.

I like to compare the experience to a toy truck. I have had several toy trucks during my childhood that looking from the outside it looked perfect. It was only when you started to interact with it you realized something was not right. Things were broken. A door would not open, a piece would be missing, or the wheel would not turn due to a bent axle. You were able to play and interact with the truck, but you learn to be mindful of it’s shortcomings.

Dealing with bipolar disorder is struggle everyday. Every morning you are in a life or death fight with your brain. Most days I know my emotions and perspective are distorted. However, even with that knowledge it is incredibly hard to keep them in check. That is the most frustrating part. Especially when you are manic. You feel like you can control everything if you put your mind to it, but at the same time you feel that control is slipping. Which makes your mania worse.

In a depressive state you know you can take control you just lack any desire to do so. You actually have a constant stream of images of when you lost the fight for control of your brain as far back as you can remember.  As you can imagine this only feeds your depression.

Living with a broken mind is not solely a negative experience. Not even close. There are true moments of clarity and greatness. Just as broken glass can be arranged in a beautiful mosaic or as you find comfort in a pair of your favorite tattered jeans. As for me, it comes out in food and the desire to understand the human experience. I see things multidimensional. With food, I can focus on taste, color, texture in many ways other people can not. 

Living with a broken mind is not any different than living with any other problem. It has pros and cons just like any other problem. I think most people need to understand it is a daily fight like someone with heart disease, cancer or alzheimer’s. It can be just as much life threatening as well.  We need someone to keep tabs on us and ask us about our day and how we feel. We are fighters and we will keep doing so. We may have broken minds, but given the opportunity we can do wonderful things.