I used to think that living with bipolar disorder was the worst thing to ever happen to me, that this illness that manifested in my brain was all that I was or that I would ever be. I used to think I was hard to love. After all, who wants to visit me in the psych ward or sit by while a man in a white coat stitches up the tender skin on my left wrist. Who has the right words to talk me off the ledge, to lift me up, to lift me out of my dark depressions? I used to wonder when enough was really enough of me. And how can anyone love a girl who doesn’t know how to love herself? I used to think I was a burden. Heavy and dark.
I used to think there would always be this clashing of moods – the ups, the downs – that my impulsivity would remain unchecked. I used to worry about the anger that caused me to lash out and break things, to say things I inevitably regretted.
I used to be a lot of things.
But today I am well and am not a burden, or too much, or unlovable. Today I love myself not in spite of being mentally ill, but in addition to it. Being beautifully bipolar has taught me compassion, not only for myself, but for others. I’ve learned that you never know what silent struggles someone is facing. Oh, wouldn’t it be easier if we all wore signs like a person with a broken leg wears a cast? “Fibromyalgia.” “MS.” “Broken heart.” “Mental illness.” A small white board painted with black letters around our necks. But it isn’t that easy. You never know what challenges others face so you must be kind and careful with your words.
I don’t think bipolar disorder is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I have reached “Acceptance,” a mythical land where I am no longer my disorder, where I accept it as part of who I am, not all that I am. I am so many things – witty, nervous, fun-loving, determined, worried, caring, silly, talented – oh yeah, that’s right – and also beautifully bipolar.
It took time, in my case it took years, before I grew comfortable with the title, slipping it on like a silk camisole. Bipolar. And now that’s all it is, a word to describe an illness, a series of symptoms. And those clashing moods? Today they are rare because I take my medication and do what I need to do to be well.
I don’t believe in “recovery” but I do believe in “stability,” and I am – stable. I have come a long way since my diagnosis in 2008 and you, dear reader, will go a long way too. What’s that saying? “Miles to go before I sleep.” I do and so do you so give it time and work on acceptance first. Like I said, I used to be a lot of things. Today I am Being Beautifully Bipolar.