When the Fog Lifts: Accepting Yourself

Matt Palmieri
One of the most challenging aspects of living with bipolar is the phase that follows an unfortunate period of heavily distorted thinking. No, I’m not the CEO anymore. Guess I can’t retire just yet.Oh well. Back to the drawing board!This can be one of the more challenging parts of the illness — the ‘not knowing’ one is ill while being ill.Days, weeks, and months may go by before I feel I have the courage to face the day again in as black and white of terms as possible, but thinking back to the sense of relief I felt when I finally embraced the illness has helped so much.Chances are if you are reading this, you have some semblance of hope that you retain with you from day to day. That alone is worth celebrating. Truly.It all starts with saying, “I have bipolar.” It seems simple enough, but unfortunately denial plays a huge role in the struggle for stability with this illness.It’s the acceptance phase that can often lead to research and learning more about the illness which can make us all better, kinder, and more thoughtful individuals for each other and for society at large. It also can pay huge dividends for those that support us during our manic or depressed cycles.It’s a beast of an illness. No doubt.Getting sunlight, eating healthier foods, speaking regularly to my psychiatrist — all these things took years and a lot of stumbling to get to, but now I feel at least more prepared for the ebb and flow that comes with not only life, but my condition that gets exacerbated by the symptoms of the illness.Think about how great it can be now, in 2023, for us to be able to press a few buttons on our phone (if we are lucky of course) to then have all kinds of success stories at our fingertips.Again, acceptance.There are almost 6 million people in the US living with bipolar. That’s a lot of people!I feel such immense gratitude for those who live with this illness out in the open, who regularly seek treatment or even voluntarily stay in a hospital to figure things out while their brain catches up or recalibrates after a scary setback.This is where we can gather strength from one another in the community. How many jobs have you lost due to bipolar? How many relationships do you still feel are fractured because of the illness?You. Aren’t. Alone.Just know there are some amazing people out there ready and willing to embrace what you may feel deep shame about.What a breath of fresh air to know that some of the most awesome people in the limelight not only embrace the illness, but they also say, “I am this, but I know it doesn’t entirely define me.”Remember with acceptance are some huge breakthroughs. A healthier lifestyle. Resilience. Empathy. An entire network ready to hear your story, psychosis and all.It all can come with embracing your mental illness. It’s the first step and likely the most important one.
Translate »