Note: While this is a standalone post, it directly follows another one called The Moment (The Mirror Part 1). I would suggest you read that one before this one.

Have you ever watched something that started out as a random episode of a show and then that something ended up changing your life?  I had that with an episode of Modern Love, called “Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am” (Season 1, Episode 3). I’d like to share this with you because it’s a show that helped me better understand myself and find hope in a very difficult time. In fact, my piece called “The Moment” was inspired by a scene from the show.

This episode follows a woman with bipolar disorder over the course of a few days, showing her at her highest and her lowest. It’s not immediately clear that she has bipolar – it’s something we learn a bit later on. I have bipolar disorder and one of my greatest frustrations in life is how poorly it is represented in media. I’ve seen bipolar characters in a few shows and almost all of them have done a disservice to people like me. But this show was completely different. It probably helps that the episode was based on a New York Times article, written by a person with bipolar disorder.

The show starts with our protagonist in a very high mood. Her day is getting off to a great start – somewhere along the way she beat the monster. That’s what I like to call depression, because that’s what it is. It’s a monster that drains you of all your energy and breaks you down over and over again. There is a scene in the washroom where our protagonist is getting ready for a date. She already had a first date with the same person that she struggled to get through because she was depressed. She wants to put a better foot forward for the second date, and she’s very excited because she’s particularly interested in this person.

As she’s getting ready, she has a big smile on her face. The excitement is palpable. That is, until you can see and feel a change in her. The big smile turns into an even bigger frown, and she’s begging and pleading with herself to keep it together. She doesn’t say it, but you can feel it: not now, please not now. Her date is waiting downstairs and rings her doorbell repeatedly, while she slowly collapses onto her washroom floor. There is going to be no date tonight. There is going to be no joy tonight. There is going to be no hope tonight.

I’ve watched this scene repeatedly, and it’s the part where I almost inevitably break down. There’s a lot about bipolar disorder that seems understandable, but this is the part I never figured out. I simultaneously love and hate that clearly, it’s something others experience too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this happen to me – getting ready to do something and then cancelling at the last minute. It happens again and again. People start to think of you as a flake – someone who’s unreliable and should be treated as a wildcard. I can’t blame them for their perspective, but I can only say that mine is very different.

I’ve had this happen to me in washrooms as I’m getting ready. I’ve had this happen to me as I’m about to step out my door. I’ve had this happen to me as I’m driving to a place. I feel the bottom fall out, turn my car around, and go back home to disappear into my bed forever. Of all the things that bipolar brings, this is one of the hardest for me. I love people and disappointing them over and over again is the worst feeling in the world.

And so, I inevitably roll into my bed and cry and cry and cry until I can’t anymore. There is no other option in that moment.

That’s why, even though it’s such a difficult thing, I thank the show for helping me see that I’m not alone in so many ways. I’m better now than I was when I first watched the show. I’m a very different person. At the time I was just learning about bipolar disorder, having been diagnosed recently.

If you or someone you know has bipolar disorder and you’d like to learn more about it, I really recommend that you watch the show. It left a mark on me. It was both agony and catharsis. I hope that it can mean something to you too.

2 thoughts on “My Modern Love (The Mirror Part 2)”
  1. I remember watching that episode – it’s so powerful! I liked that they didn’t make it obvious at the beginning and just showed her living her normal life so when you realize what’s happening it really hits you.

    1. Yeah, you nailed it – the seeming normalcy quickly becomes a roller coaster, and that pretty much sums up bipolar disorder lol. Honestly, it’s the most accurate representation. I have seen of bipolar disorder in popular media.

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