Fighting an Unseen Enemy - Bipolar Disorder

November 3, 2011 Natasha Tracy

One of the problems with mental illness is that it's invisible. As I've heard many times, "You don't look sick."

Well of course I don't. You're not looking at an fMRI.

And because we don't "look" sick, our illness moves into the "not real" category. Bipolar, the unreal illness, the imagined one.

And it's even worse because others will tell you that mental illness doesn't exist. Other's will confirm your worst fears and tell you what the tiny, horrible voice in your head has been saying - you're just imagining you're ill. Really, bipolar disorder doesn't exist at all.

But of course the voice is wrong and so are the ignorant people - bipolar is as real as it painfully, awfully, grippingly gets.

But that doesn't make it visible. And its invisibility makes it all that much harder to fight.

Fighting the Enemy

People would argue about characterizing bipolar disorder as an enemy, but I say anything that keeps trying to kill me is enemy enough for my lexicon. And make no mistake; bipolar constantly tries to make sure I stop breathing air.

And I know any force that's trying to take the life from me is an enemy. It is the thing to fight. It's the monster in the closet or the vampire in the cemetery. I know it's what I have to stand up to in order to continue my human existence.

mp9003029571Bipolar - The Invisible Enemy

But it's invisible. And kind of like the superhero keeps punching into nothingness when trying to fight an invisible foe, fighting the invisible mental disorder is equally tough. It's easy to forget how real it is. It's easy to stop remembering that it is not you. It's easy to start thinking that it's all "in your head."

I Visualize the Bipolar

So I visualize the bad guy. I put shape and form and colour to the enemy to better see it as outside myself. To better see it as the thing to fight, and not simply a messy part of me. The bipolar is over there. I can see it. Not in here. Over there.

This makes me stronger. This makes me more able to fight that which I know I must. This helps me keep bipolar in its place and outside my Natasha, outside my head.

And it reminds me that I don't want to kill myself. Bipolar wants to kill me. And that change in perspective makes all the difference in the world to the girl holding the razorblade.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2011, November 3). Fighting an Unseen Enemy - Bipolar Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 29 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

December, 14 2016 at 6:06 am

Yesterday I went to my primary physician for my first visit and told him I was diagnosed bi-polar. He looked at me and said "You don't' look bi-polar, no, I can tell from just looking at you, you are definitely not bi-polar." He has no idea in that one sentence how insignificant he made all my daily pain and suffering and constant fighting to stay alive feel in that moment. As if my heart were being ripped from my chest, I felt so sad and defeated because I couldn't say "well, give me a blood test and you'll see that you're wrong." I feel so alone and misunderstood so much of the time...and on top of everything I have to go around and do my best to pretend that I'm "normal"

Dr Musli Ferati
November, 5 2011 at 8:14 am

Against other diseases, mental disorders are on the pretence that invisible, but they indeed deteriorate daily activities of mentally ill person and not only to him. Hence, each psychiatric entity in oneself manner damages the global life capacity of mentally ill person with many consequences on the integrity of community, as system of many interpersonal relationship. It is true that still people didn't see the difficulties of any person with mental illness, but the observe very well the change of behave that manifest anybody with psychic disorder. These uncommon thoughts and abnormal actions of psychiatric patients are in reality the sign of any mental disease. Bipolar disorder didn't make exception. I agree with You that these disorders come from our head as center of our mind. And this fact should understand in real life through our view of points and attitudes as well. It isn't enough to knowledge the same.

Natasha Tracy
November, 4 2011 at 12:55 pm

Hi Ash,
Thanks. I'm glad I could give you what you needed :)
- Natasha

Natasha Tracy
November, 4 2011 at 12:55 pm

Hi Lynoth,
That sounds pretty reasonable to me :)
Nope, definitely not weird. At least, not if you ask me.
- Natasha

Natasha Tracy
November, 4 2011 at 9:08 am

Hi Sharon,
That's great. Glad I could help.
- Natasha

November, 4 2011 at 8:27 am

Strangely enough, this is exactly what I needed to hear right now. Congrats on your award. :)

November, 4 2011 at 7:56 am

I refer to my bipolar as "The Beast", and that's how I visualize it - glowing eyes in the dark, stalking me, waiting for the next time it will knock me flat and savage me.
Thanks for letting me know I'm not as weird as I thought I was for doing that :)

November, 3 2011 at 4:54 pm

I am a counselor and this is the best idea I've heard for helping deal with the misunderstanding of others as well as dealing with the feelings for the illness itself. Great article!

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