When it comes to being bipolar, the word strength takes on a whole other meaning. After over 10 years of experience with bipolar type 1, I can finally say that bipolar in itself is my strength. You may be thinking, why has it taken you so long to figure that out? To simplify it, I have changed my perspective on my diagnosis.
When I was diagnosed more than 10 years ago, I was broken. My perspective on bipolar equated to failure, specifically the failure to create meaningful long-term relationships. As a sixteen year-old the only thing I could relate it to was my grandmother who I grew up very close with. She also had bipolar. And who also, admittedly, did not understand bipolar or take her meds causing broken relationships within the family and with all of her friends that she chased away. I related bipolar to my grandmother screaming on the phone to my mom in complete mania more times than one. Despite her behavior, out of the 13 grandchildren she had I was the closest to her. Looking back, this is due to my immense empathy towards her.
Being “Bipolar Strong” also means having the strength of empathy. Specifically, empathy for the people who need it the most. The outcasts, the people that created chaos, the people who may have been dubbed bad or evil.
As I grew into my late 20s, I credit my stability to my medications. I have proudly not been hospitalized since 2013. However, that does not mean that I do not need to manage and focus on my mental health each day more than the average person. Every day, I fight the feeling of impulsivity, and I constantly have to remind myself to not respond irrationally when something goes awry.
I have figured out the way to fight these urges is only successful when I have 5 components consistently in my life more so than the average person. These components are:
- Nourishing my body with healthy foods including not drinking too much caffeine
- Taking my meds regularly
- Getting quality sleep consistently, and finally
- Keeping my house and workplace organized.
Without focusing on these 5 components every day, I will rise into mania quickly. Not going to lie, some components have slipped through the cracks depending on the day (except taking my meds) for I am not perfect. However, in a day that I touch on all 5 components I call that a great day.
After years of battling my diagnosis, I can confidently say that I have not only learned to manage the characteristics of my diagnosis, but I have also learned to use them in my advantage.
I have shifted my perspective on being a failure because of my bipolar to being a successful professional, having confidence with the long-term relationships I have made, using my unique story to make an impact, and my ability to feel “normal” because of my bipolar. Bipolar now leaves me empowered and the feeling that I can accomplish really anything because of the strength that bipolar type 1 has given me.