My husband describes me as someone who is exciting, spontaneous, happy, funny, energetic, loving, sympathetic, and caring. I would add irritable and short tempered to the list. The only descriptions on this list that coincide with my illness is irritable and short tempered. My illness exacerbates these traits. When I am in an episode, none of the others apply. To say I am bipolar would erase who I am, who I long to be. I do not like to say “I’m bipolar” because I am not. I just happen to have an illness that makes me act in ways that embarrasses me. It makes me not like myself. When my illness takes over I am moody, irritable, mean, and out of control. I have bipolar. I have times when I am these things, but I know that I wouldn’t be moody or mean without my illness. My illness can consume me. It consumed me at different degrees for 6 years after my divorce and for years before that. I was not myself. I was not who I wanted to be. I finally became well enough to take hold of the real me. I struggle everyday to keep the bipolar beast from taking over my life, but I will not let it take over who I really am. I will battle everyday. Sometimes I’ll win and sometimes I will lose, but I will never give up. This is a war that I have to win.