I recently read an article that mentioned the concept of being a stranger to yourself, and that resonated with me on a deep level. In a sense, it really defines what having Bipolar Disorder is like for me. I don’t know whether I “always” had the disorder, as growing up there were certainly some signs of it but no diagnosis. But somewhere in between, I have managed to experience my real self—the person I know to be me.
These days, I have been depressed the majority of the time, not experiencing that feeling of being my usual self, let alone the highs of hypomania. I know that Bipolar Disorder isn’t who I am, that it’s just something I have, but I struggle to determine whether that makes it a part of me, or makes me, at times, someone else…
It is telling that, after so many years, the depression side of my illness still makes me feel like a stranger to myself. Because, deep down, I know that isn’t who I am. I will admit, however, that I have previously been tricked into thinking that my hypomanic self is the “real one.” I think that is because it can make me experience life in an enhanced way; it lets me experience more joy, more productivity, more everything.
But, primarily because of the opposite side of the coin that comes wrapped in the same package—the depression—I have to acknowledge that that is not really “me” either.
And that’s okay. Because, in the middle of the lows and the highs is someone it’s okay to be, even good to be. I enjoy life, without racing thoughts and all-nighters. I am optimistic, not the pessimist that depression would make me out to be.
Still, Bipolar Disorder is in me (a better way to describe it than “a part of me”?) and, at times, it makes me a stranger—not just to myself, but to the people around me who know what I’m really like, and who I really am.
Do you ever feel like a stranger to yourself? How do you get back to the real you?
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