I remember the day, or rather, the night, about 13 years ago when I discovered I had bipolar disorder. I did exactly what I tell people not to do: I went online and diagnosed myself. In my case, I happened to be right. I remember the extreme pain, fear and shame I felt at realizing I had a mental illness. I remember the indignation I felt at the idea that I would have to take medication for the rest of my life. Mostly though, I remember the tears. I remember the candy apple-red face stained with hundreds of tears. That’s what I remember the most. But that was 13 years ago and a lot has happened since. One thing I have learned though is that I didn’t accept my mental illness that night. Nor the next. I didn’t truly accept my mental illness for years.
Every day I fight bipolar disorder. I have to because every day my bipolar disorder requires fighting. Every day, bipolar disorder is at the forefront of my mind. Every day, I have to do all the things that are required to improve (or at least maintain) my mental health. Every day, I have to fight the bipolar depression that makes me exhausted and upset. Every day, I have to focus on medication and schedules and sleep. Every day, every day, every day. And my reward for all of these fighting and fighting and fighting of the bipolar disorder? If I’m lucky, it’s the reward of not being sick. If I’m lucky, my reward is feeling like one of the normals for one day – a way that other people feel without putting any work into it at all. And if I’m not lucky? My reward is just another day with illness, with me expending hopeless amounts of energy in a seemingly-impossible fight to stay alive. Yay me.
Whether you have bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness, I believe this article is relevant to you. I know I read it and saw things that I had said or done. But as the article suggests, it’s all about taking note of yourself and being willing to make then necessary steps to be a healthier you.