As someone living with bipolar 1 disorder, I sometimes feel resentful towards others that don’t share my struggles. The vast majority of people cannot truly comprehend mania, nor spend much time contemplating it. In daily experiences and in social media, people can appear to have perfect lives, or lives that are at least free from burdens of intense mood swings, medication side effects, or the looming threat of a manic/depressive episode. Sometimes I feel frustrated with my weight gain and graduating college later than my peers. I find myself wishing I could turn back time and prevent my first manic episode from ever happening.
It’s okay to feel like that.
However, harboring jealousy and hate towards others is not okay. The rational part of me says that everyone faces difficulties, bipolar disorder or otherwise. As a junior in college, I feel pressured to outwardly prove that I am thriving in every area of my life. Bipolar disorder has ensured that this is not the case; despite my best efforts in positive self-talk, I have been through the throes of jealousy when comparing myself to apparently happy and healthy girls my age. Now, I am having an easier time finding peace, due to these two main practices:
Journaling: I have kept a regular journal since early 2018. My filled journals sit on my shelf, arranged in chronological order with different designs and fabrics, ready to be pulled out and read. As someone who loves reading and writing, having a shelf dedicated to my personal creativity makes me feel like a real author. Exercising diligence in writing a few pages everyday does wonders for my sense of accomplishment, and I’d recommend it to anyone. Bipolar disorder can be destructive, but I can be productive. And I am much more powerful than my diagnosis.
Socializing: Social anxiety had a real grip on me up until a few years ago, and when I felt ready to make more friends, I realized I didn’t know how. With more and more practice, I can safely say that calling up a friend is preferable to many other activities, especially during this quarantine. My mental health depends on talking, laughing, and confiding with others, and I don’t believe bipolar disorder can be tackled alone. It does take work to maintain a social life, but no matter your age or personality, friends make life a little easier.
When I start to feel jealous or resentful towards other people, I remind myself that I don’t know their full story. Journaling, socializing, and practicing other forms of self-care build my confidence and push negative thoughts towards other people aside. However, a healthy mindset takes a while to build; recovery is an ongoing process, and feelings of jealousy permeate my life, even now. When I have resentful thoughts, I pause and reflect on how I want to view others. It is a sign of strong character to trade jealousy for admiration. Be grateful for what you do have, and the rest will follow.