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Everyone has heard their share of horror stories about the "crazy people" with bipolar, the shock treatments, the bizarre behavior, suicides, walking around town in a ball gown or a bathrobe. Yeah...we've all seen, One Flew Over the Coo Coo's Nest, and it has done its job of putting a stigma on mental illness like nobody's business. I recently saw that Catherine Zeta-Jones has come out about having Bipolar II Disorder. I was really happy about it. Go you, I thought. People are really uninformed about the disorder and all of its side effects.
So, I will start with this, my name is Tara, and I am a bipolar II bear. If I could choose just one person, to help you see it as a non-scary thing, I would stand beside a fellow bipolar person,...drum-roll.... Sting! Yup, Sting is bipolar, as are most of us artistic types. I've listed below just 
some of the amazing people in our lives that have shaped and transformed our world.
What's the difference between the two bipolar's? Bipolar type I is the more severe version. Severe ups and downs, a sense of euphoria when manic as well as feeling they are invincible, capable of flying, spending thousands of dollars in flurry and a heightened and sometimes dangerous sexual appetite that lands them in hospitals, jails and sometimes needing alternative methods of treatment to navigate through life as "normal" as possible. Type One is a rough road and one that Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Robin Williams, Carrie Fisher and many more have struggled with, and some sadly, have ended their lives because of the abyss that swallowed any light left in their lives.
We bipolar II types have it easier than our other brother bears, but that is not to say, that we have it easy by any stretch. Our version is a more gentle animal. Yes, we have super energy, we are highly creative and uber passionate beings, with an amped up sexual drive, that can put any 25 year olds libido to shame. We feel things bigger and stronger than the average bear. Our love is BIG and our pain is BIG as well. At our mid to high place, we are seen as being extroverted, funny, super confident people. We are all of those things, but we tank out at times. Most people envy these qualities, wishing they had some of that magic dust, in their back pocket, and we become a light that others can't help but feel a magnetic pull to be near. Hell, we are our own sun in our "manic" state. You know those people that just light up a room, make people laugh and love giving lots of love...that's us. Inside, deep down, we are saying, like me, like me, love me...please. 
We 
do however, know that we cannot fly, and we know that if we don't take our meds, go to sleep on time, stay away from alcohol for most of us, and really keep a schedule and structure in our lives, well, shit falls apart, and fast. The tough part, the manic state feels good and why wouldn't  it. I once painted my dining room in one night, and what I mean is, I decided out of the blue that I wanted to paint my dining room and in five minutes I was at the paint store, colors picked, home and set up, and I painted until 5 a.m. It was finished, beautiful and I was up to feed my three toddlers an hour later with a smile and pancakes to greet them. (Not quite normal) Fun though! But if we stay on that ride and dismiss our reality, dismiss the precipice that awaits, well, it is a long way down and a tough road for medicine to bring us back up to zero. Who'd thought zero would have ever been a good thing? Well, it really isn't, but when you are under the covers, shades drawn, and can't find hope or joy in any one thought, this is usually when you have hit the negative numbers.
Our goal is somewhere about a 5, in terms of a 1-10 idea of stability and happiness. When shit collapses, we hit the negative numbers and getting back to zero is the first slit of light that pierces our depression and says, okay...it 
may just get better. "Don't forget not to come back here again", we beg. The tough part, even if we do all the things we need to do to stay in the 5 area, life happens. And when our kids move out, our dog dies, we lose our jobs, a lover leaves, etc, Well, we can up the med's, increase doc time and push to do all that we can to avert the crash, but we are not built with the average non-mentally ill brain, so we fall harder and faster, and we stay there longer, by no choice of our own. No choice...that is 
such the struggle!
What I want most, is to have people feel free to say out loud, yeah, I've got bipolar, whatever type, as easily as we have finally be able to say, "I struggle with depression, and I'm on Prozac", or " I just had a panic attack, do you have an Ativan?" All met with support and non-judgment. But mention bipolar and people have this preconceived notion that you are bat-shit crazy and may just show up on the evening news, in a straight jacket. "Hey Bob, didn't you know she was bipolar, so sad, (Susie says with pity and a hint of elitism), thank God that isn't us honey" You've just done it Susie-Q, you've divided us. Sad and not at all evolved or compassionate. Tsk-tsk says God, Buddha, The Dalai Lama...not to mention, your mother, Mrs. Q. Speak up Bob! you know she's a hair away from bat-shit crazy town herself. But Bob remains afraid, afraid of his wife and afraid of what others may think. So he stays unhappy and in his own dark closet of denial...until one day, he leaves.
"Well, I'm bipolar and I take Lamictal and Klonopin for my depression/anxiety and to keep me in the fives. As of late...been in the mid 4's with all that's going on at present, but I'm headed upward. Fingers crossed, taking care of myself, reaching out to friends and staying as Zen as possible in hopes to hit a happy 5 sooner than later. Listening to the Dalai Lama on tape as I drive around town; The Art of happiness cooing in my ear. Certainly not planning on any evening news shenanigans, Bob.
For all of you that find yourself in therapy, saying to your doc, "I'm finding myself feeling happy part of the day and then in an instant, I can crash and I don't know why." You may just be bipolar and the good news, once you know, you can get on the right meds! They didn't diagnose me correctly until I was in my mid 30's. I suffered far too long due to a lack of information.
It took a long time to come to terms with the fact that this disorder was something I had, not something that defines me. So thank you Katherine Zeta-Jones! Speak up and join me, come out of that crazy closet and lets do what we can to get rid of the stigma! You never know, you might just see Susie poking her head up too, Kate Spade bag, still in hand. No worries Susie, you're in good company...mostly;)
Actors & Actresses
Ned Beatty

Maurice Bernard, soap opera
Jeremy Brett
Jim Carey
Lisa Nicole Carson
Rosemary Clooney, singer
Lindsay Crosby
Eric Douglas
Robert Downey Jr.
Patty Duke
Carrie Fisher
Connie Francis, singer and actress
Shecky Greene, comedian
Linda Hamilton
Moss Hart, actor, director, playright
Mariette Hartley
Margot Kidder
Vivien Leigh
Kevin McDonald, comedian
Kristy McNichols
Burgess Meredith, actor, director
Spike Milligan, actor, writer
Spike Mulligan, comic actor and writer
Nicola Pagett
Ben Stiller, actor, director, writer
David Strickland
Lili Taylor
Tracy Ullman
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Robin Williams
Jonathon Winters, comedian
Artists
Alvin Alley, dancer, choreogapher

Ludwig Von Beethoven
Tim Burton, artist, director
Francis Ford Coppola, director
George Fredrick Handel, composer
Bill Lichtenstein, producer
Joshua Logan, broadway director, producer
Vincent Van Gogh, painter
Gustav Mahier, composer
Francesco Scavullo, artist, photographer
Robert Schumann, composer
Don Simpson, movie producer
Norman Wexler, screenwriter, playwright
Entrepreneurs
Robert Campeau

Pierre Peladeau
Heinz C. Prechter
Ted Turner, media giant
Financiers
John Mulheren

Murray Pezim
Miscellaneous
Buzz Aldrin, astronaut

Clifford Beers, humanitarian
Garnet Coleman, legislator (Texas)
Larry Flynt, publisher and activist
Kit Gingrich, Newt's mom
Phil Graham, owner of Washington Post
Peter Gregg, team owner and manager, race car driver
Susan Panico (Susan Dime-Meenan), business executive
Sol Wachtier, former New York State Chief Judge
Musicians
Ludwig van Beethoven, composer

Alohe Jean Burke, musician, vocalist
Rosemary Clooney, singer
DMX Earl Simmons, rapper and actor
Ray Davies
Lenny Dee
Gaetano Donizetti, opera singer
Peter Gabriel
Jimi Hendrix
Kristen Hersh (Throwing Muses)
Phyllis Hyman
Jack Irons
Daniel Johnston
Otto Klemperer, musician, conductor
Oscar Levant, pianist, composer, television
Phil Ochs, musician, political activist, poet
John Ogden, composer, musician
Jaco Pastorius
Charley Pride
Mac Rebennack (Dr. John)
Jeannie C. Riley
Alys Robi, vocalist in Canada
Axl Rose
Nick Traina
Del Shannon
Phil Spector, musician and producer
Sting, Gordon Sumner, musician, composer
Tom Waits, musician, composer
Brian Wilson, musician, composer, arranger
Townes Van Zandt, musician, composer
Poets
John Berryman

C.E. Chaffin, writer, poet
Hart Crane
Randall Jarrell
Jane Kenyon
Robert Lowell
Sylvia Plath
Robert Schumann
Delmore Schwartz
Political
Robert Boorstin, special assistant to President Clinton

L. Brent Bozell, political scientist, attorney, writer
Bob Bullock, ex secretary of state, state comptroller and lieutenant governor
Winston Churchill
Kitty Dukasis, former First Lady of Massachusetts
Thomas Eagleton, lawyer, former U.S. Senator
Lynne Rivers, U.S. Congress
Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States
Scholars
John Strugnell, biblical scholar
Scientists
Karl Paul Link, chemist

Dimitri Mihalas
Sports
Shelley Beattie, bodybuilding, sailing

John Daly, golf
Muffin Spencer-Devlin, pro golf
Ilie Nastase, tennis
Jimmy Piersail, baseball player, Boston Red Sox, sports announcer
Barret Robbins, football
Wyatt Sexton, football
Alonzo Spellman, football
Darryl Strawberry, baseball
Dimitrius Underwood, football
Luther Wright, basketball
Bert Yancey, athlete
TV & Radio
Dick Cavett

Jay Marvin, radio, writer
Jane Pauley
Writers
Louis Althusser, philosopher, writer

Honors de Balzac
Art Buchwald, writer, humorist
Neal Cassady
Patricia Cornwell
Margot  Early
Kaye Gibbons
Johann Goethe
Graham Greene
Abbie Hoffman, writer, political activist
Kay Redfield Jamison, writer, psychologist
Peter Nolan Lawrence
Frances Lear, writer, editor, women's rights activist
Rika Lesser, writer, translator
Kate Millet
Robert Munsch
Margo Orum
Edgar Allen Poe
Theodore Roethke
Lori Schiller, writer, educator
Frances Sherwood
Scott Simmie, writer, journalist
August Strindberg
Mark Twain
Joseph Vasquez, writer, movie director
Mark Vonnegut, doctor, writer
Sol Wachtler, writer, judge
Mary Jane Ward
Virginia Woolf
 

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Comment by Tara Klinges on June 26, 2012 at 2:17pm

Thank you all for the appreciation and wonderful words. We are not alone!

Comment by Carissa Galow on June 24, 2012 at 6:12pm

I am bi-polar as well, so this was something I could relate to. Reading this reminds me that we're far from alone and that we should not be ashamed of this....and you're right, it doesn't define us. Thank you for sharing this! :)

Comment by Maryanne Mesple on June 24, 2012 at 5:37pm

Tara, I totally agree that all of us should be  accepted for who we are and our gifts no matter how one comes packaged :-) I enjoyed reading your blog here.

Comment by Maryrose Orlans on June 18, 2012 at 10:46am

So well-written!  I understand so much coming from a family where these struggles are common.  Thank you for sharing :-)

Comment by Tara Klinges on June 18, 2012 at 10:13am

Thank you, Lisa! That is my goal. Less alone and for people to let go of shame. Thank God with it comes creative and sometimes genius minds!

Comment by wiffledust on June 18, 2012 at 10:10am

thanks for sharing your experience with this disease, tara. i'm sure that it will make someone else feel less alone. well written and insightful....i'm glad you're back!!!

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