Hope in Bipolar

My life with bipolar thus far has been an incredible learning experience. Over the course of my formal diagnosis, I have become the most self-aware I’ve ever been in my entire life.

That self-awareness did not happen by chance. The happiness and peace that fill my life today – did not happen by chance. My dad always said to me, “anything worth having is worth working for”, and believe me those words never rang more true than when I wanted to find peace and happiness. I wanted to escape chaos and pain; the demons in my head, the self-hatred, the daily suicidal thoughts. I wanted to escape it all.

I wanted happiness. I wanted a life I loved living.

I am so happy that I can tell you all, I am living that life. I worked for it, I invested time in myself; my mental health, my physical health, my spiritual health, building healthy relationships and removing toxic ones. I often cried from exhaustion because it felt like a lost cause, a losing battle BUT I had a vision of the life I wanted to live. I had a vision of the woman I wanted to become and that woman would not be defined by her diagnosis.

I joined a FB page for women with bipolar, and I’ve since then removed myself from that page. I could not bare the toxicity of the majority of the posts (not all BUT the majority). The negative energy that was being spread and applauded. The women in this group found comfort in comparing their terrible experiences or attitudes. There were no silver linings or learning experiences to be found on this page. They hated their diagnosis and as such it was projected on how they viewed themselves and consequently their loved ones.

My life is NOT perfect. How I handle my diagnosis is NOT perfect. But I’ll be darned to ever let anyone think happiness amd stability is out of their grasp because of a diagnosis. Happiness and stability are available to everyone. Sometimes we just have to work a little harder than others to achieve it or keep it.

I want to be clear and transparent when I say I’ve hated myself. I’ve hated my life. I’ve been in toxic relationships. I’ve felt like I was a burden to my loved ones. I felt like finishing my education was out of my grasp. I’ve been suicidal. I’ve hurt myself intentionally. I’ve spent money to the point I had to declare bankruptcy. I’ve ruined relationships and broken trust. I’ve cried oceans of tears for days and nights without rest.

But I did not settle for that life.

I felt and experienced those things as so many people do with bipolar – there is no shame. I am not ashamed of the life I’ve lived and the battle scars I’ve acquired. I want you to understand, I am not trying to sit here saying I am holy than thou and my life is magical. I want you to understand that there is hope. That if I can find happiness with my life – with bipolar – you can too.

If you are new to your diagnosis. If you are a veteran with your diagnosis, if you hate your diagnosis, if you feel helpless with the cards you’ve been dealt in this life. I’m here to tell you it can get better.

I’m going to be blunt when I say, it doesn’t have to get better. It really doesn’t, your life can be miserable till the end of time – it all comes down to you. You and what you want to work for. I promise you that if you put in the work, even when you don’t feel like it OR feel nothing at all (because let’s not kid ourselves – it happens) you will see yourself and this diagnosis in a way you never thought possible.

Will all your problems go away? Heck no! Will the highs and the lows vanish? Not a chance! But will you feel like you can handle them a bit better than you could before? Yes.

I knew deep down my life was not meant to be lived with all the pain I was living in. I knew that people loved lifè and why should I be exempt from feeling that love of life also? When I was diagnosed my life was in shambles, this diagnosis terrified me BUT it also gave me hope.

When you have hope, your possibilities are endless. The hope I gained from my diagnosis was a tiny seed. However, by reading about this disorder, educating myself, participating in all the therapy available to me – that hope grew day by day. Sometimes it faltered but I nourished it the best I could AND it grew stronger.

Hope and hard work – that is what my reality of living a life I love is made of.

I encourage you to look at your diagnosis not as a burden but as a symbol of hope. Cling to this hope and know that happiness is not reserved for a select few. Cling to this hope and recognize how valuable you are, how divine your potential is. Please recognize that from the depths of despair we can rise into unthinkable joy.

My life, my diagnosis – NOT perfect. But I can say I love my life and I consider myself happy. Yes, I’m sad and I feel empty sometimes but it makes me recognize and value my happiness so much more when I get to experience it again. Silver linings.

Bipolar is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Thinking that bipolar is the worst thing to happen to you – that is the worst thing that can happen to you.

– Steph

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