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So what exactly is "normal"?

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I am so tired of being defined by my bipolar.  I want it to be as much in the background as possible, like my wide feet.  ;)

I can't remember what a "normal" day is like, what "normal" sleep is like, what "normal" communication is like.

I know my memories are probably romantized, but how can you know what to work toward, if you can't remember what it was like (if ever)?

For example, re sleep, I take an Ambien CR and sleep about 7-8 hours.  I do dream, but not anything scary.  Usually a couple of hours before the 7-8, I find I am waking up on and off.  When I get up, I am alert and not hungover.

So, is that sleep pattern anything like what a "normal" person would experience?

What about the other stuff?  Anytime something seems difficult for me, my first thought is always bipolar.  It's very tiresome.

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I really just don't know what Normal is.

I don't really understand the usage in terms of how to live a Normal life or be a Normal person or to act Normal. There is having average or typical  behavior-things I have seen a lot of people do,  and I can usually understand something when it seems bizarre.

I think there has always been something a little off.

Bipolar does not need to be a defining trait, but it will likely be a part of your life, and a bigger part until you reach a certain level of stability.

It is hard to break the thought pattern that brings you to always think of BP when something goes wrong.

I can't find my pen. I am so disorganized! my life is out of control! I am becoming unstable!

I am tired. I never get enough sleep! I must be going hypomanic!

I'm upset. I must be getting depressed!

It's hard to guage our reactions when we have to pay so much attention to our behaviors in order to keep ourselves healthy. With time, you learn what are signs that  you are just having a bad day, and what may be something more. It can take a while.

As far as sleep patterns go- I really think that very few people require an average 8 hours of sleep. Many people say you shouldn't take a nap and then others say a 'power nap' is good. Whatever works for you, and makes you feel best is usually what matters.

Consistency is important, also.

What to work toward?

Feeling good about yourself and being successful, whatever that means to you.


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I think I remember! I had what I believe was a long remission in the late 1990s, between marriage and children.

Normal is being able to conceive of and act on your plans with reasonable confidence that any saboteur lying in wait is not you.  Unlike, say, refusing to make plans because you have no idea if you'll be functional six months from now.

Normal is having the same range of emotions, including the ugly ones (well, maybe not the emergency-room ugly ones), but with an underlying sense of perspective.

Normal is mildly optimistic.

Normal days vary, but normal periods are unassuming, so they can be known for their events and not for their emotional climate.  (This would be boring, except that the events themselves can be so cool.)

Your sleep sounds normal, unless those last several hours are tense and stressful.  Are you waking with any muscle pain?

Thinking of BP all the time happens to me too.  I hate it; it makes me feel like the Hypochondriac Loser of the World.  I assume it will fade away when I have been both stable and busy for a reasonable period of time  -- many months, not weeks.


-- can't find her pen

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My view of "normal" may be a bit off, having come from a BP family. I got a DX of my very own when I was 7 and am now 27 lol

Normal, I think, is having moods, not episodes. I think that there is a such thing as people being able to be happy, sad, cheerful, spunky, whatever else, and NOT be enslaved to it. NOT crouching down in the kitchen counting your hours.

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I honestly can't remember "normal" -- was depressed (with suicidal ideation) as far back as I can remember. I think there were times when I was functioning more normally (when I was dealing with school or work better), but even then I wouldn't say it was normal. I've always have been outside the norm, and it was pretty obvious to anyone other than my family, who were so heavily invested in the idea that everything was allright, and that I was having a "happy" childhood.

"Normal" is outside my realm of experience. Functioning well, feeling better, and -- yes, even feeling happy -- that's within my scope.

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Guest FrannyNZooey

I come to accept that "normal" is a setting on the washing machine.

And I don't use it much there either more a gentle or perm press kind of gal.

Seiously don't label or compare to others, that will make your whole machine go into overdrive burn out.

Take care,


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I NEVER had a "normal" so there's nothing to remember except a big retrospective "now I see what my problem was." I've always been terribly moody. And I developed into a very wierd personality as a consequence. Not so easy or desirable to just throw that away.

I don't think you should worry about what's normal. Just focus on who you want to be and work towards that. You are unique. It's a good thing. As for being defined by bipolar, well, I see it more as a gentle awareness because it's not all about meds. We do have to watch it. Same way normal people try to be "normal." We try to control our bipolar. We, bp's and normals, are all trying hard to behave.

I know what you mean though. I sometimes wonder if I cry BP to myself too much. But maybe it's just semantics. If I weren't saying BP as a shorthand, I might be saying "stop being such a flibbertygibbet!"


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I guess normal is different for everyone.  Certainly all my family members were unusual in their own way.....is that abnormal?

I have no idea what is normal, although I guess I understand what is typical of what I see in general.  But who knows what masks people wear.

If I could figure out how to push my bipolar into the background I would sure do it, but I wonder if then I would be less inclined to take care of my mental health.

I stay in a state of hyper-sensitivity to what I'm "supposed" to be doing.....doctor's appointments, therapy, pills, watching my behavior, mood charts....

How can anyone feel normal when you're doing all that???

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"Normal" is just a song by the alt-rock group The Exies.  A very good song, at that.

You hate the things that I say / and who I seem to be / but you don't look so normal / to me...

I don't know how it's like to be 'normal', having been Aspie since the trimester my brain began to develop.  In fact, I think that 'normal' is just a construct we all make up in our own minds...

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My traditional normal isn't other people's normal - it's a hypomanic/dysthymic mixed state.  At various times in the last five years, though, including now, I've gotten to experience other people's normal.  No anxiety beyond the momentary, no thoughts of wanting to kill or hurt myself, no overhanging feeling that something is gonna go wrong if I don't work all the time.  Just the ability to handle life as it comes and deal with bad things happening.

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8-10 hours sleep. 

Speaking at a pace which allows other people to understand me (usually). 

Not wanting to die. 

Not following through on an endless carousel of bright ideas. 

Liking people.  People liking me. 

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Normal, I think, is having moods, not episodes.
My way of saying it is that it's having emotions, not moods. That's how my therapist talks about it. I think it's just different words for the same thing; the idea is whether you get stuck there or not.

I stay in a state of hyper-sensitivity to what I'm "supposed" to be doing.....doctor's appointments, therapy, pills, watching my behavior, mood charts....
I go in and out of that.  When I'm feeling more stable I still track my moods/emotions but I don't have to monitor my every feeling so I don't oobsess about it.  When I start a-slippin and a-slidin I have to be more vigilant. 

For almost a year after diagnosis I was extremely self-conscious and resentful about the self-monitoring.  After six years I now see it as a way to stay healthy, like remembering to take vitamins and eat vegetables.  So hang in there; it should get easier.  Go ahead and be pissed about it, though; my guess is that you have to go through it to make peace with it.

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