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after they diagnosed my father,
my mother told me,
if she had known,
she would have never had children.

it scares me to think that,
eventually,
one day i could hear a small voice saying,

“mommy, i don’t feel right.”
    --

“you don’t look sick,”
they say, noticing that i’m not dragging around
an i.v. stand.

noticing that my sweatshirt is black
and not a white hospital gown
swinging around marbled, knocking knees.

“but i’m still unwell,” i say
in a voice that doesn’t shake
and they just look disappointed,
like i don’t fit.

like i’m the skewed painting
on the fucked-up-person wall.
    --

“but,” they say, “don’t bipolar people
usually kill themselves?”

“but i tried,” i say
with my wrists unmarked
and they just shake their heads

almost as if to say
not hard enough.
    --

“poor girl,” they say, looking right at me,
sitting next to my dad as he laughs too loud.

they are the only ones who grimace
as they say,
“poor girl.
poor thing.

having to put up with that every day.”
    --

bipolar disorder,” my phys ed teacher/
my counselor/
my old friends/
spit, like the word is a pill
melting on their tongues.

“all teenagers have mood swings.”
    --

swings are fun
until you’re strapped down
and can’t leave.


until all you know of the world
is a bright, dizzying blur.
Mood swings are when you're moody due to hormonal changes and go through "phases."

Bipolar disorder is when you break down sobbing at four in the morning, or drive your parents' car through the garage, or have a panic attack in the middle of the day and run off school campus screaming, or get two hours of sleep and then write a concerto in another three. Bipolar disorder is a life-threatening illness that is not characterized by scars or your hair falling out or a small, quaking body - and its this invisibility that makes it so dangerous.

edit: Featured here!
edit: And here!
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Daily Deviation

Given 2014-10-14
bipolar. by colbalt-rain captures the essence of dealing with the scrutiny of people not understanding how others cope with mental illness.  It's often a hard and lonely road, but colbalt-rain clearly knows how to create empathy and does it quite effectively.  Enough that it may open up a few eyes. ( Suggested by LindArtz and Featured by inknalcohol )
:iconlmw-the-poet:
LMW-The-Poet Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
This is the type of poem where the writer MUST be thanked...

Thank you for writing this and expressing so many peoples' voices. :heart:
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:iconlugia20711:
Lugia20711 Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2015  Student Writer
Heart 
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:iconpugsmith:
pugsmith Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I loved the "swings are fun" metaphor. It captures bipolar disorder perfectly, and for that matter mood disorders in general.
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:iconmortalsaw:
MortalSaw Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2015
truly beautiful , this is one of the few things i've enjoyed in a while 
thanks for this .
Reply
:iconshanblue:
shanblue Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
For 40 years I didn't know why I did some things or flew off the handle or wrote the concerto. And too many equate it with crazy, because so many aspects of it seem crazy. Excellent description. Beautiful poem.
Reply
:iconyourthreewhispers:
yourthreewhispers Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2014  Student Writer
this is an absolutely beautiful poem. it captures how i feel exactly, as someone going through this mental illness.
Reply
:icontjnerd:
Tjnerd Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Wow, truly incredible. 

Your insight and communication of ideas is masterful and what really makes this ring out is its simplicity, yet deep effectiveness in communicating emotion as well as physical happenings.

The last stanza legitimately brought a tear to my eye. 


Love your work. 
Reply
:iconnocturnal-link:
Nocturnal-Link Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It's good.  :)
Reply
:iconkuchikiyorume:
KuchikiYorume Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
And I hate it. I hate that illnesses like that are so invisible. I have to make it visible for others to see that it's there. And I hate having to hurt myself to let others know that there's something wrong.
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:icontheemptychest:
TheEmptyChest Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014
Oh look, the fantastic writer who is colbalt-rain got a DD -- surprise? No, not really. Haha, congrats hon! I'm very happy for you. The piece is beautiful and the feature is well-deserved. :heart:
Reply
:iconpaper-dimond:
paper-dimond Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Student Writer
there is so much truth to this. beautifully written <3
Reply
:iconemptyshadow:
EmptyShadow Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014
This was a rather touching read. It is tragic but it is also something people have to go through because of misconceptions, stigma, and stereotyped drama. 

The part that said "not hard enough" captured my attention, because many people suffer without hard, visible evidence. People are easily doubted and the saddest part is that I cannot blame them, because too many people, young and old, easily dub over what these disorders truly are and misusing illnesses like casual label terms or adjectives, conditioning the rest of the world to give second thoughts "are they serious or just expressive?" , and the true sufferers have to pay the price for it. Some people are so petty about attention they step all over without looking down at what they are stepping on. 

I think doubt is human nature, and no doctor in this world ever diagnose correctly for complicated issues like these but I hardly feel invalidation is necessary. Living with a disorder is a challenge alone, then you have the time you waste lulling around to figure out what's wrong, while some (though not all) kept pestering with discouragement. Living with a disorder almost feels like a different dimension. Unless one has education in it, experiences it or is mindful of it, many things that people consider normal and manageable become a whole new challenge. Not to say others must walk on eggshells or that it's their fault for this mishap, but it's still a tough challenge for many with disorders to face. 

I occasionally have severe mood swing issues due to my own mental bits, but it's hardly anything compared to that of bipolar disorder. It sounds horrendous. Not merely the state of manic vs. depressive, but the uncontrollable transition of the extreme. A few swing may be manageable; but constantly? I can imagine the kid gradually weeping and begging for a stop. 

I hope you are able to deal with your issues and that you have supportive people around you. Great writing! 
Reply
:iconotakuchan88:
Otakuchan88 Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow...just, wow. This is really amazing, and I feel like this really captures the way people view not just bipolar disorder, but mental disorders as a whole. A lot of people don't seem to understand that these are REAL illnesses, not something you can get rid of by telling them to stop, that it's all in their head.
Reply
:iconoldsoul-mira:
Oldsoul-Mira Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Student General Artist
I feel like this is more about pride and acceptance rather then the bipolarity itself. nicely written.
Reply
:iconzuko-kitty:
Zuko-Kitty Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is amazing, my best friend is bipolar, so I think you've created her point of view, and even partially mine, very well. I now think I understand her a little better, as she doesn't tell me her thoughts, so thank you.
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:iconharrysaxon1234:
HarrySaxon1234 Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
i am crying.... because it's incredible
Reply
:iconajforpresident:
ajforpresident Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow, this is so deep... I want to cry right now since it's so common for people to disregard this sort of thing.. Coming from someone who not only has Bipolar Disorder but also suffers from Depression, I must say that this has hit me hard.
The marks I can still see on my skin when I first tried to cut myself... Despite them being pretty much faded and just about gone. That happened years ago, yet I still remember the day I did it.....

People think that Bipolar Disorder means that you have mood swings, but it's much more than that... It's dealing with this pit of anxiety and fear in your stomach and feeling that you are strange or a freak due to having it. At least that's what I felt....

I'm crying now at this point, but I am lucky and glad to have read a piece that's so beautifully done and makes me really feel. ; w ;
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:iconmissluckychan29:
MissLuckychan29 Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014
I hate that I know I have this and my family ignores it and it calls me being stupid
Reply
:icontyler-elric:
tyler-elric Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Student General Artist
Thank you!
Reply
:icondemonic-fantasy:
Demonic-Fantasy Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Student General Artist
Powerful. 
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:iconleftunfinished:
LeftUnfinished Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Captivating. In an emotionally cleansing way. :heart:
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:iconhoneywolfrin:
HoneyWolfRin Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014
I don't have bipolar disorder, but a good friend of mine does, and I hate seeing her struggle. This made me think of her.... And this is written really really beautifully by the way, thanks for sharing
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:iconth555:
th555 Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014
Bipolar is not always that bad, especially with medication.
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:iconshadowisstillalive:
ShadowIsStillAlive Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I love this. My mother and sister have Bipolar disorder, and I have depression. I get how this feels, and I've seen my sister and mom break down when they run out of meds.

I love this.
Reply
:iconlordvorsolon:
LordVorsolon Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Student Writer
Love. Very well written. From the heart, with as much meaning as a slap to the face, it gets your attention in a smooth, subtle way. Its affect is drastic on some, to others it is nothing. To the people that this means nothing to, they are the enemy of the world, not aware of the hardships of some, not aware of the pain that some go through. And sometimes is isnt even pain is it? Its all in your head, but whats in your head is what makes you act or do. And your actions and doings can destroy one, and destroy another.
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:iconkuwang3r-prime:
KUWANG3R-Prime Featured By Owner Edited Oct 14, 2014  Student Digital Artist
This is beautiful... I happen to be bipolar too.. and autistic.
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:iconviolet-petunia:
Violet-Petunia Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This is strikingly beautiful in a dark way. I love the structure this is in. Keep up the good work and congratulations for the DD!
Reply
:iconcopper9lives:
copper9lives Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Professional General Artist
Powerfully written. Moved me deeply — I have long suspected that my father was an undiagnosed case. But I will never know; he refuses medical help of all kinds, and has burned his bridges with all of his remaining family.

I wish you well. I wish you joy. I wish you, more than anything else, UNDERSTANDING and SUPPORT.
Reply
:iconsugarysparkles:
SugarySparkles Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014   Artisan Crafter
This is written amazingly.

I'm type 1 diabetic, and I dread ever having children because it's entirely possible that any of my children could have it as well, and I would have knowing that I was responsible for it.
Reply
:iconmistressofquills:
MistressofQuills Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Student Writer
Seriously you're my favourite writer on dA.... I wish I had a quarter of your talent! This poem defies words.
Reply
:iconrogue-shinigami:
Rogue-Shinigami Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
No. Stop. This isn't allowed to make me cry ._.

Honestly amazing~
Reply
:iconslendycreeper:
slendycreeper Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This is...
Touching.
Reply
:iconbrushpuppie:
brushPuppie Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014
Wow. That is..that really feels. That´s it. it feels. Like it does much more than make you understand somewhere in your cognitive brain.  Awesome.
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:iconianni67:
ianni67 Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014
I met at least two students of mine with bipolar syndrome.
I think you perfectly depicted the mental state and the passion those people suffer. It's a way of being more than just a disease. After a while, it turns to a constant pain, whatever "pole" they are in. And most often such a pain is _also_ physical.

Thank you for sharing and helping us all to undestand.
Reply
:iconnonier:
NonieR Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014
I'm cyclothymic rather than bipolar, but they're similar. And the one thing I wish doctors/psychs had told me was that menstrual cycles could make it MUCH worse. From the beginning of menses to ovulation I'd be pert' okay, but from ovulation until the onset of menstruation--especially the last 5-8 days of that time--were absolute hell. EVERYTHING hurt--noises too loud, lights to bright, voices sounded more hostile or mocking, and everything seemed out of proportion and catastrophic; one bit of loose trash would be We're Destroying Our Planet, and a kid's ordinary laugh about nothing in particular would feel like Humans Are Cruel And Monstrous, and so on.

And it took me several decades to connect the hormonal cycle with the mood cycle, quite possibly because being that depressed and overloaded didn't help me think. ;)

Do you happen to know whether BPD interacts with the hormonal cycle the same way? Or whether doctors/psychs bother to discuss that with their female patients these days?

(Me? Menopause was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I wish I'd known to have the plumbing removed decades earlier, but that's certainly not the right answer for everyone.)

--Nonie
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:iconsilverturtles:
SilverTurtles Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014
Its powerful
Reply
:iconerozja:
Erozja Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014
Congrats on DD! :heart:
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:icondeceptivelyme:
DeceptivelyMe Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Student General Artist
"swings are fun
until you’re strapped down
and can’t leave."
This part was when this whole poem snapped into perspective for me. Very moving and very effective. Great work. :nod:
Reply
:iconthedraconian:
TheDraconian Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Student General Artist
I'm glad you are bringing awareness to this terrible illness. It could really help someone.
Reply
:icondehaxis95:
Dehaxis95 Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014
Wow this was a really powerful read, I don't know if that's the right term for it but I'll stick with that, I'm not bipolar myself but for a long time I feel the loneliness that is so cleary talked about in this post, The loneliness of not being the same as everyone else, The loneliness of tying to be kind when all those around you are not kind themselves until you break down and become something worse than those who you wanted to help so badly for so long and then what's left? Nothing but broken faith covered in tears.

Don't know if anyone will read this but honestly it doesn't matter, As long as it stays here for even one person to read then it'll be worth it. Thanks for writing this and wish all the best.
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:iconcaptain-antihate:
Captain-Antihate Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014
Congratulations on your well-deserved DD!!! :iconflyingheartsplz::iconlainloveplz::iconflyingheartsplz: ClapClapClap
I’m very joyous for you!!! :iconloveloveplz: Tight Hug
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:iconoka1974:
OKA1974 Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014
Nunca se ha de confundir con ataques de nervios.Y,por cierto,me gusta mucho la historia que usted a escrito.Un fuerte abrazo desde España
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:iconthegalleryofeve:
TheGalleryOfEve Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on your well-deserved DD!!! :iconflyingheartsplz::iconlainloveplz::iconflyingheartsplz: :clap::clap::clap:
I’m very happy for you!!! :iconloveloveplz: :tighthug:
Reply
:iconandyneth:
Andyneth Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Such a beautiful, tragic one.
I think you did very well on showing our society's stereotypes when it comes to mental illness.
Thank you for that amazing piece of art.
Reply
:iconari-heart-matsuri:
Ari-Heart-Matsuri Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This is really beautiful >.< Like, heart-rendingly beautiful! It describes what it's like perfectly (I have not been diagnosed by a doctor, but I've done a fuck-ton of research and talked to others with bipolar, and well, I am). I can't tell anybody, not properly. I used to think it was just depression caused by teenage hormones, but it just isn't. Maybe it used to be, but not anymore -_- shit just depressing there... sorry 

^^ It's really unlike me to be so morbid 
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:iconoojitkaoo:
OoJitkaoO Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Great written.
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:iconangela-k-rough:
Angela-K-Rough Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
It's so hard when people can't see what is wrong. *hugs* 
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:iconlexxcinci:
LexXCinci Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This.... This is astounding. It gave me cold chills. Great read, very inspirational.
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:iconhiland-rose:
Hiland-Rose Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
Brilliantly described.  My husband and his mother are both diagnosed, my husband has been fighting it but is ok with treatment...he has his episodes but he's willing to do what it takes to continue to cope with it in a healthy way, his mother, is not..... there is hope, if not for a cure in the immediate future, but for a normal and productive life in spite of it.... mania is scary but can be channeled productively with support from people close to you, your doctor and your treatment plan.  Depression is also frightening but again, if you have people who love you and are willing to walk with you through it... (letting you come out when you are ready, but being willing to intervene if they need to.)  You can do well.... Most people will not understand, most people will be afraid because they don't understand, or ignore it because they don't.  Education and awareness is so important... this is good, what you do here... keep on doing it.  Congrats on the DD!
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:iconsinistersugar:
SinisterSugar Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
i had a friend who was just like ur poem. i tried to help her deal with her problem... but she never got the real help she needed. it ultimately ruined our close friendship. she doesnt talk to me anymore because her voices convinced her im a 'bad friend' though i was always there, through anything. ur poem is beautiful. it captures everything a bipolar it is, the struggle they go through, the bubble theyre in that most people dont notice. i still wish i could have helped her somehow. but its good talents like u express through art these issues. if enough people see it from the inside, maybe itll be easier for others to believe when a person needs help and do something before its too late. a soul is a soul, no matter how tormented... and everyone COULD be helped, if others weren't walking around with society's blindfolds on.
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