The Benefits of Being Bipolar: How to Lifehack Your Crazy

Illustration by Blaine Counter - Pyragraph
Illustration by Blaine Counter.

So you’ve got the bipolar. Don’t trip. It’s not the end of the world or the end of your career; it’s the beginning of the hardest and most fulfilling lifehack ever.

Being bipolar has its advantages.

We crazies, in the manic-depressive way, tend to be more creative than sane people. My best guess as to why this correlation exists is that the wicked cleverness and creative genes which make us so awesome combine like an evil Voltron to make us bipolar. Ironic? Totally. But nature can suck it because we flow with our disease when it behooves us and paddle against it like a one-armed seal trying to hump a colony of sea cucumbers when it doesn’t. Which is why, for us:

Being organized isn’t a pipe dream, it’s a necessity.

It’s a type of organization that normos will never understand. Our lucidity and stability is tied to the totems of order and scheduling. If you’re not bipolar, I bet your calendar is. I bet you go through stages of trying to tabulate every moment of your day but give up quicker than your WordPress blog on Tunisian raw food diets.

My plan instructs me to buy food, water and writing supplies.

Normos can function without that level of organization while we often can’t. A Google calendar becomes a backup for our shaky memory; a tidy bedroom becomes a refuge away from the anxiety-inducing world; and when depression makes eating or showering seem as daunting as an essay on Prussian economics, a high-definition routine makes the mundane a compulsion.

So maybe you’ve got the crazies and aren’t organized at all? Well get on that shit now and it’ll make you more productive than your emotionally benign peers could ever dream. Even if you love to be a slob, you might find that color-coded cubbies and tighty-whitey filing bins take some unnecessary strain off your overtaxed psyche.

Yes, organization will be a better medicine to you than most, but let’s talk about the nitty-gritty of our shared diagnoses.

Channel your mania or hypomania.

Do it, and watch the ideas flow like an endless ribbon of your favorite soft-serve ice cream. Nothing’s better than letting St. Francis de Sales possess your fingertips to unleash the next great American BuzzFeed article; but please, don’t play games with your meds.

Don’t try to force a manic episode with drugs, alcohol, sleep deprivation, etc. It’s just not worth the risk of arrest or financial ruin. Do make a “pink plan”: an 8½ x 11 tucked in a Trapper Keeper that reminds you to make the most of that preternatural charisma and particle collider laser focus. My pink plan instructs me to buy food, water and writing supplies, and outlines ideas I’m usually too lazy to tackle. But manic you is still you and anything accomplished in that state was in your grasp to begin with. Now internalize that reality and try to remember…

Depression can spur creativity.

Generally, being depressed is terrible for productivity, but having been depressed is great for understanding yourself and the world. I started writing when I decided to stop running from my depression and started fighting it instead. Looking back, even the lost battles were dry duff for the self-examination that makes my writing passable.

Realizing that perceived constants are more illusion than reality (i.e. my sense of control over my emotions or a causative relationship between how I feel and what’s going on in my life) made self-expression feel as necessary as breathing. I suggest a daily creative task, be it a sketch in your notebook, a poem for a friend, or shouting into a pillow that reminds you of the sky that morning. And whaddya know? Doesn’t that fit perfectly with the whole being organized thing? Being depressed blows, but reflect on it, and I promise you a gooey inspirational center in that big mess of crappy feelings.

Life would be easier without mental illness, but getting something out of life is about accommodating the insanity of existence rather than constantly denying it. Embrace that you are nuts and don’t let the world’s insistence on uniform normalcy allow you to ignore the advantages you have.

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  1. Life is all peaks and valleys- even if you aren’t bipolar, you can still use some of the clarity that comes with lifehacking our crazy. I’m pretty sure we’ve all got that.

    1. Until you’ve had the mania that comes with bipolar you can’t begin to understand it. When the meds finally get you stable you still have the highs and lows that normos have which should be good.

      And it is good for the most part however, the mania is missed. The euphoric feelings and sharp vivid colours that only you can see. Obviously the memories of the downsides of mania remind us to keep taking the meds – the constant overspending and one way tickets to who the hell cares!!

  2. Man, Fuck the ideas. I have a folder full of text documents FULL of ideas from fiction writing, digital paintings, to indie game dev ideas. ALL of which will never happen because the learning curve is too stressful which knocks me on my ass. Endless ideas with no way of bringing them to life or make any kind of living off them. It’s pathetic.

  3. I do the same. I’m constantly balancing my realities to adapt them to the common sense. I do this when I hear voices or see conspiracy surrounding me. But I know it’s all in my mind. Now I’m enjoying the travel. I’m finally embracing this singularity as a life to be lived. To take advantage of this situation is an upgrade that worth.

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