Being a Realist with Bipolar
I’m a realist, and I have bipolar disorder. I find this is a troublesome combination. I think this is because people often see realism as negativity, especially when you have bipolar. Realism isn’t negativity, however. It’s okay to be realistic with bipolar.
What Is Realism in Bipolar?
Realism is a simple thing. Realism is simply about being realistic about what is going on around you. It’s about saying when something is awful. It’s about saying when something is amazing. It’s about being honest about how you feel at a given moment.
When you’re a realist with bipolar disorder, you may be forced to admit that there are many more awful things than there are amazing ones. You may also be forced to admit that your future doesn’t necessarily look as bright as someone else who doesn’t have bipolar disorder. Finally, you may be able to accurately predict some negative things that you also may be forced to admit to. All of this can come across to a person as negative, but if it’s a realistic view of your life and your feelings, then it’s realism about bipolar — not negativism.
The Problem with Being a Realist with Bipolar Disorder
The problem with being a realist with bipolar disorder is that others feel like you’re « being negative » when really, all you’re being is realistic. When you’re depressed, things are awful. Depression is awful. Saying this out loud isn’t unreasonably negative, it’s honest. Others, however, don’t necessarily perceive it that way.
Inevitably, realists will run into Positive Pattys who insist on looking at everything through rose-colored glasses. These Positive Pattys are completely unrealistic and almost delusional about their own lives, let alone yours. And so it goes that Positive Pattys give you lectures about « looking on the bright side. » They tell you that you’re being negative. They tell you that if you would just look at things differently, everything would be fine. Positive Patty may even deny mental illness because she (or he) feels that just « being positive » fixes everything.
I’m a Realist with Bipolar Disorder; I Don’t Like Patty
To put it succinctly, Patty and I do not mix.
To put it another way, I would say that I don’t have a lot of patience for delusional people that have no understanding of what a real, serious mental illness is. Honestly, Patty’s view of the world annoys me from 20 feet away. When she gets up in my face about my own life, I kind of want to strangle her.
However, I don’t strangle people. Instead, I would say this: If being a Positive Patty works for you, then go for it. I’m not about taking away things that work for people.
That said, I strongly suspect Positive Pattys will wake up one day and discover that life isn’t what they’ve been espousing and they’ll be very upset about it, and they’ll find it doesn’t work. But that’s Patty’s issue, not mine.
If You’re a Realist with Bipolar and Run into a Positive Patty
If you run into a Positive Patty, that person might make you feel like there’s something wrong with you, like there’s something wrong with what you think and how you see the world. Self-reflection is healthy, but don’t let someone who chooses to be semi-delusional change what is right for you. Being realistic is okay. Acknowledging your pain and suffering is okay. Acknowledging just how hard it is to live with bipolar disorder is okay. As long as you’ve tempered that with thoughts about what you know is great, it’s okay. Walk away from Positive Patty and just know that being a Realistic Rick is perfectly acceptable if it works for you.