Grace Scarpello

Something I am Proud Of:

Something I am proud of in my journey with managing bipolar disorder would be staying. Choosing to stay despite many moments of struggle and trauma has been my greatest achievement. I decided many years ago that leaving early wasn’t an option for me anymore. I’ve chosen to make taking care of myself a number one priority.

Fast forward to today, I’m proud to say I have a full-time job teaching at a high school. I have a loving partner and best friend who I can rely on. I am a better friend, a better daughter, and a better sister. I am better to myself. Now, I have the wisdom that a bad day doesn’t equal a bad life. I still feel deeply sad at times and feel deeply joyful at others. Balance is a constant companion I’m trying to hold onto. Recovering from bipolar episodes is faster these days. The older I get, the more tools I have to fix up parts of my life that may have crumbled during depression or twirled around during hypomania.

Advice for the Newly Diagnosed:

The ups and downs of bipolar disorder is something I can’t fully explain. I wish I could transport my doctor into my body on a bad day and just let them feel what bipolar feels like. Feeling like you have a wind-up toy in your chest just being wound tighter and tighter and speaking faster and faster isn’t pleasant. Not sleeping isn’t fun. Gaining a ton of weight from medication feels shameful (even though it’s not). My hope for the future of bipolar medication is that side-effects are less intense and less negative. I hope there’s more progress. And the more we talk about bipolar disorder, the more the public might understand that it’s not scary and we are not the antagonists in a storyline. We are human and flawed. That is both okay and beautiful.

The parts of my bipolar I can control is a short list, but I can manage my symptoms and accept my diagnosis with the help of my doctor, my nurse practitioner, my therapist, and trusted people in my life.

Thanks for this opportunity to share my lived experience managing a complex mental health condition. I hope it gives you hope to stay. I hope it reminds you that you are not alone. Recovery is hard, but you can do hard things.

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