This is an idea I got from another blogger who wrote a post about what it means to her to be a high-functioning depressive. You can read it here: http://maycauseirritation.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/high-functioning-depressive/
So, I have set out to figure out what it means to me to be a high-functioning bipolar who does not have a job, is going through a divorce, is not in school or some other worthy activity, and basically reads all day once the blogging is finished and comments answered and blog posts read. So, how does one feel high-functioning when one is lacking all the trappings of someone who is? That seems to be the rub. Hmmm….this is going to take thought, and I think that I am done thinking for the day.
I have thought about this a bit more. A high-functioning bipolar doesn’t go off the deep end because her relationship ended very badly. I doubt that I will maintain a friendship with this particular ex-whatever the hell he thought he was-and whatever the hell I was led to believe he was. He falls into the category of “if I never see you again, it will be too soon.” Currently, only one person has held that honor for about 20 years. And, no you don’t get a cookie or a medal for belonging to this élite group. I think we were a married couple for all of one year before the happy little “diversion” became key to his existence and rendered me null and void. Anyone who can spend 8 hours looking at Internet porn is someone who has a huge problem especially if his wife is a perfectly attractive woman. That just pissed me off. So, I would guess a high-functioning bipolar has some respect for themselves.
I am also very involved with my Buddhist community. I am the women’s leader of a small district which is basically a group of other Buddhists that belong to the same sect, and they all have many years of knowledge that I do not have. Normally, this would absolutely whig someone who wasn’t functioning well out. When not functioning (ie: depressive episode/manic episode/mixed episode), there’s no way that a bipolar with anxiety issues could do this. You cannot deal with people very effectively when in one of those states.
I know that I can now “hide” my bipolar from an employer. I am good at that which is a good thing when it comes to the workplace. I have always been highly competitive with myself, and anything other than superior work product is unacceptable. I was the same way all the way through college. Someone could set a bar for me, and I would (and still do) set it higher. Now, granted, that may not be healthy, and can lead to heart attack, stroke or even death doesn’t bother me. I have always been a type A personality. I get anxious when everything is not going just the way I want it to. Or, the way it is supposed to. Even at the beginning of the manifestation of this illness, I was still producing at a very high level under some extreme stress (which is what I think may have finally brought on the manifestation of symptoms). It is vital to my existence that everything I produce be it a research paper for school or an analysis of misuse of the time-clock to produce unworked overtime, I want it as perfect as possible. Low-functioning people have a tendency towards mediocrity. They do just enough to get by.
Hmm……I am again at a loss. I do not participate in any of the activities that our society values with the exception of my involvement with my religious activities. I guess someone who is a high-functioning bipolar can face difficulties with-out succumbing to the “I am going to kill myself” feelings that seem to always lurk just below the surface. It would be easier on you, but I have seen firsthand the devastation that a suicide causes, so that’s not an option. I guess my vision of a high-functioning bipolar is someone who can deal with difficult situations either personal or work related, is someone who can maintain relationships with people in a give and take type of way rather than always taking or always giving (and not being recognized for it, man that just chaps my hide). Show some appreciation for what you have and what you get. That to me is very important. I will and have been known to stop giving anything of myself if I do not feel appreciated. If you are hungry, there’s the pantry.
I guess a bipolar that is high-functioning be it a person who works or stays home and keeps the house is someone with a strong sense of who they are, what they want out of life, won’t settle (especially if they have before and been taken advantage of~maybe that‘s my own personal problem), is comfortable alone or with people, has friends, can give and take equally, and isn’t stuck in the “woe is me” cycle. They live with it, they don’t “own” it in the more common sense of that expression because to do so would be to identify with the disease, but rather is some one who recognizes it as a part but not the whole of who they are. I am sure there are things I left out, and shall probably remember at a later time. I think I have come to the conclusion that a high-functioning (insert illness here) is someone who knows themselves, and can take care of that self while nurturing the part that needs help.