But I'm Normal

My First Year of Medical School


Tears are dripping down my face as snipets of what happened years ago play in my mind.  Despite the time that has passed, it may as well have happened yesterday.  Most days, most moments even, are fine.  Living in the here and now is easy.  It comes naturally to me.

Psychotic break.

Psychotic episode.

Break from reality.

Call it whatever you want.  No matter the name—it shattered my reality.  My sense of self.  My identity.  I'm still putting the pieces back together.  The tears come because I know that those pieces will never fit perfectly again.

All of these articles and testimonials that I read are meant to give hope and to exemplify the management of the disorder.  They outline the steps to leading a healthy life with some semblance of normalcy.  Sure, maybe the disorder can be managed.  But how do you manage the despair?  

That episode destroyed who I was.  No, my life has not been destroyed.  But I'm not the person that I used to be, and I never will be again.

Are the tears worth crying? Is that person worth mourning? This new woman that I am, maybe she's better than that old one.  Try telling that to my heart.  Tell that to the water streaming down my face.  And please, tell that to the gut-wrenching feeling that grips me as I write this.

I know that life is not fair.  I know that I'm a strong person. But why did life have to break me, if only for a number of days?

My roommate is yelling to me through my closed bedroom door asking how many frozen tamales she can eat.

"As many as you want!" I scream, my tears instantly drying as my body shakes with laughter.  

Sure, I'm normal.  My life is great.  I'm going to be a doctor someday.

I don't know who I am anymore.

When I first found out, I clung to the glamour of the diagnosis.  Demi Lovato has bipolar disorder.  So many intriguing, creative minds were clumped into this eccentric and riveting group.  My mind could naturally cause my body to act as though it was intoxicated with cocaine.  I could focus intensely on a project while feeling great about myself.  Even though I was failing all of my classes, I could be the smartest person in the entire medical school (while also being humble and not bragging).

What a joke. Was it glamorous to have four policemen standing over me waiting to haul me off into an ambulance? Maybe the glamorous part was returning to school and having an entire class of students stare at me every time I walked by because they had heard stories of me bringing a hammer into the school building.

I'm not crazy.  I'm still me.  But who is that?

There is no clear answer.  There may never be a clear answer.  The manic episodes, the depressive episodes, and the periods of "normalcy" - they all blend together.

I have great friends, a loving family, and a promising future.  But who is the woman that will be living in that future? Who is the woman living this life right now? Your answer is as good as mine.

I live life in each moment.  These questions don't need answers for me to function.  I am so confused, and yet, my life is not confusing.

I'm not asking for advice.  In fact, my friends normally ask me for advice.  I'm certainly not writing to give little tokens of wisdom about how to live life with bipolar disorder.  I'm just living my life and being me—whoever that is at any given moment. 

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But I'm Normal
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