Nearly four years ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. When I heard the doctor tell me that diagnosis I just went with it. I hoped that knowing what was really going on in my head would help me be able to function more normally. I went with it and started taking the medication religiously. I did what the doctor said, went to my appointments and carried on with my life. But, I carried on in a way that was more manageable. We tried different medications until we found the right combination and then I was set. I've taken the same combination of medications for about 3.5 years. I just switched out one of my anti-depressants, and I'm still trying to decide if I like it. But, luckily, medication wise, it's been fairly smooth sailing. Like I said, my doctor handed me a diagnosis and I went with it.
After I was told I was bipolar I did crazy amounts of research (it's what I do, both of my parents are journalists, I can't help myself, I have to know everything I can). I read articles online, books, blogs, everything I could to find out the best was of dealing with this diagnosis. I knew it was the right diagnosis from the start. I had been up and down for years. My temper was beyond short, I snapped easier than a twig. I could sleep for what seemed like days, and feel nothing. I could spend money I didn't have on things I didn't need without a thought (I know lots of non-bipolar people do this too, but mine was a bit more out of control/excessive). I had all of these classic bipolar symptoms, and even more. I did everything I could to try to deal with being bipolar and live a successful, happy life.
More than once I have asked myself who I would be without this diagnosis, who I would be if I didn't have bipolar disorder. Would I be the same person? I don't know, probably not. What I do know is that I am intense, intelligent, incredibly creative, passionate, loving, compassionate, empathetic, and much much more, and I do think that part of it is influenced by the bipolar. My emotions and feelings tend to be more intense than most people, or at least they feel that way. I think my levels of emotions are probably the same, but the intensity factor behind them, and the lack of control on my part with respect to these emotions really is the main difference. When I am un-medicated and not trying to control myself my emotions are wildly out of control.
So, I've always thought to myself, if there was a "magic button" I could push and make this illness, yes illness, go away, would I? If there was a cure would I take it? Who am I if I do not have bipolar disorder? I've thought about this a lot, many, many times, and I don't think I would change it. If I could completely rid myself of the bipolar I don't think I would. Of course, there's part of me that would love for all of this to go away. I hate taking all of the medication, most days its the last thing I want to do, but I do it, because I know I have to (I hate the medication and side effects more than anything else to do with this stupid illness). I hate when I lose control of my emotions, which happens more often for me than most people. I hate that my medication determines things I can and can't do (i.e.- running in hot weather, can't do it, I completely fall apart and overheat, I was never like that before). There are a million reasons I hate having bipolar disorder.
But, I still wouldn't change it if I could. It is part of me. It has made me who I am today, a strong, confident, intelligent, creative woman. Yes, I have a mental illness, or if you prefer, a brain disease. But, that doesn't make me diseased or bad. It scares some people. Sometimes I go on a date and the guy finds out I have bipolar and it clearly changes his opinion of me, and not usually in a good way. That's usually the last date. I know it scares some of my former friends, and probably even some of my current friends. Sometimes it scares me. I'm scared that if (and when) I have kids, that I'll pass it along to them. I'm scared that one day I will stop taking my medication and get out of control. I'm scared that my medication will stop working for me and I won't know how to deal with it.
But, I know that I'm strong and I'll figure it out and letting myself be scared isn't doing me, or anyone else any good. I can't let my fears define me. And, I know everything will be okay, mostly because I have the most amazing family anyone could ever ask for, and friends (the good ones, the ones who will stick by me through anything and already have) who will help pick me back up if I fall. Without my family and friends I would not be where I am today or who I am today. They are the most important part of my life.
So, the short of it, after all that is no, I would not push a magic button and be cured. This is who I am and it makes me, well, ME.