The panel featured Jennifer Killi Marshall (“Bipolar Mom Life” blogger & the creator of the “This Is My Brave” show), Natasha Tracy (“The Bipolar Burble” blogger), Andy Behrman (author of the awesome memoir Electroboy) and Bret Bernhoft (founder of the “Being Bipolar” community & a medical cannabis advocate.). Each panelist discussed his/her background, and then Jared chose viewer-submitted questions for the panel to answer.
A question by “Kevin” was presented to the panel:
“One of my big questions about bipolar disorder is because there is no true cure for the disorder, why should we go through a lifetime of perpetually trying to do the impossible…impossible being curing bipolar disorder?”
While I huffed, puffed and wondered, “huh?” (I was using my elliptical while watching the show) Natasha Tracy addressed Kevin’s question.
She replied, “So we’re not trying to do the impossible; I’m not trying to cure bipolar disorder; I know that’s not possible and that’s not going to happen. What I’m trying to do is live my best life possible, so I’m trying to get the best treatment that I can, be as successful as I can, and live a life that I personally consider to be fulfilling. So the goal isn’t impossible – the goal is to live your best life.”
After listening to Natasha’s quote twelve times to make sure I typed it correctly, I believe that she was advising viewers not to get discouraged with a “cure” concept, and to focus on the here and now. However, I felt that her answer was incomplete. She could have mentioned how there are numerous major research organizations (The Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund @ the University of Michigan, CREST BD, and the UCLA Mood Disorders Research Program to name a few…) that are aggressively seeking a bona fide cure to this treacherous illness.
I know it’s unethical to lead people on with false hope about curing such a complex brain disorder. I’ve never even thought of a cure as being a possibility until quite recently, but I must admit it’s a nice subject to ponder. It’s particularly poignant for me to imagine a cure since I have two daughters with an approximately 25% chance of inheriting bipolar disorder.
You simply never know what to expect in life. If you told me fifteen years ago about the existence of the internet and my precious Kindle, I would never have believed you! Flight, the polio vaccine, and many other advances of all kinds were once thought to be impossible.
Why not a cure for bipolar disorder?
A few days ago I was at my monthly check-in appointment with my psychiatrist. I felt so thankful that it was a “shooting the breeze” type of session rather than the crisis meetings we used to have. I brought up how ever since I was diagnosed with bipolar, I felt like I was “damaged goods”. Since we were almost out of time, my doctor suggested I explore the concept further with my therapist, as I see her more often.
I thought about this theme of “damaged goods” as I drove towards home. Let’s say a cure for bipolar comes our way. Would a cure increase my self-esteem? Would a cure give me back the past eight years since my postpartum bipolar disorder emerged? Would a cure make my life easy? Of course not. But it would be so nice to give up my fear of relapse, cease taking meds, and stop thinking about bipolar so much of the time. It really would be lovely.
So I’ll let myself dream a little. There’s a saying, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” I hope all those bipolar researchers are dreaming their little buns off!
You can watch the first Bipolar Panel Project episode here: