Bipolar disorder has been such a shameful and an incredibly misunderstood place for me. Full of false guilt, embarrassment and regret. Confusion, anger and sadness. And plenty of hurt. Until three weeks ago, it’s been my dark little secret for almost eleven years.
I realized in the last few weeks, that as passionate as I am about HATING the stigma that’s attached to mental illness and as equally passionate as I am about wanting to FIGHT it, I was basically CONTRIBUTING to the stigma by keeping my own disorder a secret from so many people, and even from people I love. So I decided enough is enough. How could I claim to want to fight stigma with such a huge secret? (Read more about Laura SQ’s coming out of the bipolar closet here, on her blog, MrsBipolarity.com).
My hope is that by sharing my story, that I am EMBRACING MY BIPOLAR DISORDER. To embrace it, is to pay it forward. Ten years ago, I NEVER would have told you that bipolar disorder would form me and shape me into who I would become. I NEVER would have even thought about it. Dare I say, I’m THANKFUL for my bipolarity? I don’t know if I’d go that far, it’s sticky coming out of my mouth especially on days that aren’t as good as today, but, yep, it’s a building block of who I am, and who I’m still becoming. And I’ve turned out ok. Well, we never stop “turning out.” We never stop learning and growing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there. I’ve felt the pain. I’ve been depressed, manic, and everywhere in between. I’ve had obsessive, racing, grandiose, and dangerous thoughts. I’ve felt so helpless and hopeless I never thought I could rise up and live life again. At the end of the first two years with my first psychiatrist we were at the brink of ECT. Nothing was working and I was on eleven medications at one time. Thankfully, that doctor graciously admitted what he felt was his own defeat and referred me to a second psychiatrist, who is still my doctor today.
I wish diagnosis were the cure. It’s an excellent and vital turning point, but even stability doesn’t mean you’re DONE with bipolar disorder. It’s really the beginning of life, THANKFULLY. It certainly was for me. Some days are better than others, but it’s where I started LIVING, instead of EXISTING.
Don’t let ANYONE make you think you’re falling short. It will be ok. There is LIGHT at the end of this horrible and seemingly endless tunnel. All this hard work, medication and therapy is worth it.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
We are ALL looking for support, and to know that someone has walked a path before us. We all want to know we are understood, we are not alone and that there’s no such thing as NORMAL anyways!