When I was first diagnosed, I asked my psychologist why people with bipolar disorder hadn’t been culled out of the population through natural selection. To me it seemed that manic depressives are marked less fit for survival; if, as most in the psychiatric community agree, bipolar disorder has genetic roots, then those fortunate folks would inevitably procreate less than the general population fade away.
I tried to put the idea in context; I happen study ancient prehistory, so I set my mind’s eye back to 10,000BC when man followed the wandering herds of mammoth for food and other life essentials.
In that scenario, manic me would out-hunt, out-gather, and outrun any caveman or lady around. But what about depression. When I’m stuck under a rock for 2 weeks without any interest in eating let alone taking out a prehistoric elephant. For sure I’d be left for dead as the tribe moved on to track the migrating meat. But, my psychologist’s response, albeit a little over the top, elevated me.
So maybe it’s not all bad, all the time. Looking for a silver lining, I found a few breaks in the clouds bipolar folks might use to edge out the rest.
- Who else can have 50 thoughts in his head at once and somehow manage to recognize each one of those thoughts and discern which thoughts to listen to and which ones to discard?
- We are more empathetic than most because of the darkness we face. We can be there for others in their dark moments because we know what it’s like to be alone in our dark moments. We wouldn’t wish those dark moments on our worst enemies.
- Our brains work at lighting speed to disseminate information quickly — sometimes too quickly but I would rather have the quickness that not at all.
- Our capacity to love someone else is huge because of our illness. We can love others extremely deeply and show them love that is not the norm.
- We are super passionate people who can light up a room quickly and get others out of their dark places.
- We can brainstorm ideas like nobody’s business because of our brains.