My Biggest Competitor

It’s no secret that I have struggled with bipolar disorder for several years. What may be less known is that I have also fought hard to overcome numerous setbacks and personal losses as a result of my illness. I don’t like that I have had to deal with an illness as cruel as bipolar disorder can be, but the more I focus on how unfair it is the less time I have to live a full life. 

I know for sure I am not the only person who has suffered because of bipolar disorder. There are many kindred spirits out there who can relate. So I dedicate this post to all of you reading, looking for some words that may bring peace to your heart. 

You see, I know a great deal about believing in the American Dream and living that dream to some extent. I also know first hand what it’s like to lose almost everything at the hands of a mental illness. I think the worst loss for me was when I lost my sense of self. I was once a confident, young woman who thought creating dreams, setting goals and accomplishing those were simply a way of life. It was my way of life and it worked well for me. 

Then I met this fierce competitor. Not in the form of a human being, but an invisible force that took away my ability to function. There has been no greater challenge for me than to find my way back to a stabilized person. Even making my way to the Olympic Games was in no way a fraction as difficult as it has been to fight bipolar disorder.

This is how my friends I know just how strong you are. If you’ve found your way back to stability from any bipolar episode, you are one tough person. Because this competitor we face does not play fair. It has it’s own set of rules and takes no prisoners.

But we win everyday by fighting the good fight.  I know I had to pick up many pieces in my life in order to recover-­?-­?one step at a time, day-­?by-­?day and sometimes moment-­?by-­?moment.  The biggest and most important part of the fight is to never give up trying.

Part of the challenge is also to remake ourselves all over again. Because often times bipolar disorder has taken us off whatever path we may have been on. It might have kept us from finishing school or stopped us real quick in our career paths. But to fight back means we forge on looking for new opportunities. This is where it really becomes even more difficult.

If you’ve ever been at the top of your game and fallen all the way to the bottom, you know how hard it is to remake yourself. But you made the journey, why stop where you are? This is what I tell myself as I continue to get stronger on my path.

See, no one is there to point us in the direction we need to go, at least not for me. I’ve been fumbling my way around trying to find a sense of purpose for my life. I

walked down several paths, only to either quit before seeing it through, or get to the door of something new and run before I opened it. I have even a greater fear of failing than I have ever had in my life. I’m not afraid to step out there and try, I’m just afraid if I try too hard my nemesis will rear its’ ugly head and render me incapable. I wish I wasn’t afraid, but I am.

I try to dream and set goals. I have accomplished a few along the way. But the really big ones elude me. I have had to learn how to be satisfied with the small wins. Because I know in my heart the small wins will lead to bigger ones.

I don’t have a great deal of answers for anyone. More than anything, just know there is someone out there who knows exactly how you feel. And whatever you are trying to do, keep trying. Don’t give up. Eventually we’ll find our way. We always do.

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