A question that comes up on bipolar forums with unfailing regularity is that if there was a cure for bipolar (a pill to take, a surgery to have, a procedure to undergo) would you do it? Why or why not. I find myself struggling with this question and in the end, I honestly don’t know if I would.
The first reaction to this question is naturally to rid yourself of this disease and live life like a normal person. But I honestly don’t know if this would be the best for everyone, including myself. I’m not sure just how much of my personality is from my mental illness and how much is “me”. In effect, I have no clue if I would be the same person without being bipolar. When I look back on past behavior, it occurs to me that there is no way to disentangle what is my illness acting out and what is truly myself.
Also, I don’t know if I would be the same writer without bipolar. I seem to experience feelings and emotions differently than other people. What effect would it have on my writing if I was cured? Would I be this prolific anymore? Is part of the reason why I write so much closely linked to my misfiring brain chemistry? Would I write differently without my illness? Would my writing be better, worse, the same?
Although I regard change as a positive thing and am always willing to do so, it occurs to me that this amount of change might not be for the better. I might be more emotionally stable, but what would I be giving up in return? And even if I gained emotional stability, what would that do for me? I’m pretty well equipped to handle my illness at this point. I do get overwhelmed and have a hard time coping with things, but I can manage to keep it together pretty well.
Not to mention that there are a few things about bipolar that are positive. Being hypomanic is a fucking trip in and of itself. I mean, you feel better than you could ever imagine. You’re productive and happy and life is amazing. There is nothing you can’t do and no restrictions on your future. It’s an incredible experience that I even struggle to accurately describe. I would be giving up the depression that I get more than the hypomania, but I would be giving up the hypomania, too. And being hypomanic is a experience that has had a tremendous affect on me.
If a cure for bipolar did emerge, I would not be the first in line to get it. I would watch and listen to others who got it and see how they reacted. What were the changes that occurred? Where there side effects? Did their lives improve from being cured or did they give up a portion of themselves for stability? Moreover, how does it effect creativity and artistic expression?
Granted, there is no cure for bipolar even on the horizon. It’s not as if this is an immediate concern or even something that I will have to deal with within the next 20 years. In a way, I find that comforting. This would be a huge fucking choice and I’m not sure if I would do it or not. My illness has a huge impact on my life, but not always bad, and there’s no way of telling what would change if I cured it. Whether or not to cure my illness is not something that I can easily agree to. Thankfully though, I won’t have to for a long while.