I’ve been learning a lot lately about what it means to be bipolar. There’s a lot of character traits I possess that I never realized were symptoms. There’s also a lot of symptoms I didn’t realize I possessed as character traits.
For example, when hypomanic, bipolar people tend to have increased confidence, often to the point of arrogance and conceit. Now I’ve always prided myself on my humility, which in itself is an oxymoron and probably a red flag. Yet in the past, I’ve had people call me self centered and egotistical. I’ve never been able to understand it, and in honesty I still don’t, but at least now I know why. When I’m feeling up, something in my behavior is expressing a feeling of superiority, and it’s completely unintentional.
I know sometimes I’m confident beyond reason, and it’s been incredibly helpful at times, and a huge setback at others. I do feel that I couldn’t achieve the things I have if I didn’t have that level of confidence. The fact that I have used it as drive for goal achievement is something I’m proud of.
Hidden behind that goal achievement is something else. The desire for recognition. I’ve always wanted to feel recognized, loved, accepted, and validated, and on my terms. There’s an unending yearning and desire to be prolific, and to create something that impacts the world. Imagine my shock when I recently discovered this is textbook delusions of grandeur, another staple of the bipolar.
Honestly, this one is hitting me pretty hard. I’ve always thought of this as a staple of who I am as a person. I’m a person meant to make a difference. Whether I make that difference or not kind of takes a backseat to the idea that this entire line of thought is symptomatic of my illness. Has that been what’s driving me all these years? Is my very personality just a mashup of illnesses and disorders?
In one way, it just verifies my belief that everything is just chance and devoid of inherent purpose. If my supposed purpose was entirely created by a mental illness, does that make my illness a necessary evil? Without it, would I have the drive and determination to work toward what I want? Or is there something more? After all, is it a delusion if I make it true? Millions live with bipolar and their delusions remain just that: delusions.
Shit, if I look at it that way, then it’s almost like my sickness is taunting me and daring me to accomplish things. Like I’ve been tasked with greatness but no one believes I can achieve it. I barely believe it. Then again, this is textbook delusions of grandeur.
It’s disheartening to think that so many of my personality traits are just symptoms of mental illness. It just serves as a reminder that we are not who we believe we are, and that our inflated concept of self means very little. We’re just a conglomeration of biology and circumstance, conscious to observe itself. We’re not who we think we are, and as such, we’re not who we want to be.
So what am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to do now that I understand I’ve been operating beneath a ruse of mental illness driving the most fundamental beliefs about myself? Do I continue? If I can fulfill my own delusions of grandeur, do they cease being delusions? And at what point do simple aspirations become delusional? There’s a lot of questions to be asked and I have a lot of answers to find.
One thing is for certain, my life has been a series of eye openers since my diagnosis. I’ve gotten more aware of what certain behaviors mean, and I’ve been able to have 20/20 hindsight with a lot of situations throughout my life.
I’m not a person who believes in regret. I believe we are where we are because of the decisions of the past, and our future depends on the decisions of the present. Wherever we are right this second is through our own actions, and it’s exactly where we should be because it’s the perfect place to take the steps into a great future.
As roots of great trees slowly dismantle the foundations of buildings man make, so too will I chip away and erode the facade of my illness for better understanding of who I am. Or do I have it all wrong? Perhaps I am the building, and the illness is the tree, slowly breaking down the walls I have constructed. Maybe I’ll never know.