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A Piece of My Mind
June 23/30, 2004

Normal Is a Place I Visit

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(24):2924-2926. doi:10.1001/jama.291.24.2924

I live in a different world. I go through the same motions as others: I wake, relate, and work. But my life plays out in a different theater. The on-stage me is an illusion. The actor is friendly and outgoing, provides good patient care in a group practice, and successfully juggles the rigors of home and career as a single parent. She appears to live a hectic but happy life, and manages to do it with efficiency and grace.

I have bipolar disorder: manic depression. Normal is a place I visit, not one in which I am allowed to remain. I vacillate between recurrent depression and occasional episodes of exuberant, expansive hypomania. After 30 years of living with this illness I have become adept at hiding it. But it continues to be difficult to bear. The pain, fatigue, and loneliness are, at times, overwhelming.