I was sitting with my therapist a few weeks ago and we talked about bell curves, statistics, and thresholds of what a “normal” human experience looks like both individually and statistically. A lot of people discourage others to not compare themselves to their peers, but the fundamental thing we talked about in my session was that it’s okay to compare yourself with others to ground ourselves in what we know to be true.
I struggle with Bipolar II. My highs are a fun rollercoaster ride that will pump adrenaline and unstoppable energy into my veins. I feel my best self on my upswing, My highs produce productivity, social connectivity, and over involvement in my community. They make me say yes to many things at once. I become hyperactive and only sleep a few hours every other day–manic episodes fool me into thinking I am no longer mentally ill because I just feel so good. Before, I’d even stop taking my medications because I thought I was no longer sick. But then after a few days or sometimes less than 2 weeks–I find myself sitting in the depths of my depression, camping out, waiting for the storm to pass. Sometimes it puts me in a state of passive suicidality, anxiety, and self loathing, yet somewhere in between there is movement.
My baseline isn’t any two connecting points in the frequency diagram above. Instead, it is the whole diagram in itself. My baseline is that I will experience the highs and lows and plateau sometimes in between the two.
At the same time, not all highs or lows are self destructive. For some people their high might be getting married because it causes such a heightened sense of euphoria. On the other hand, a low for someone might be the loss of a loved one. Everyone’s highs and lows look different but when we compare ourselves with others we begin to see that we experience so many of the same things as humans. The way these experiences manifest within our day-to-day lives is different for each of us because we are all working in different histories, lineages, families, friends, lifestyles, etc.
In a poem called “This Is Not The End of The World” Neil Hilborn says,
“Whatever you’re feeling right now there is a mathematical certainty that someone else is feeling that exact thing. This is not to say you’re not special this is to say thank god you aren’t special.”
I thought this quote was very fitting and I hope you know a bad day isn’t a bad life. The human experience is a confusing one, but it’s all we’ve got and maybe it’s the best we’ve got too.