Amy Kathleen Lee
10 THINGS I'VE LEARNED ABOUT BIPOLAR
We all have bad days. Recently, I have had too many back to back. I’m sure you can relate if you have a mental illness: depression, PTSD, bipolar I, bipolar II, schizophrenia, bulimia, anorexia, binge eating, …
You can relate to the unpredictable and sometimes debilitating thoughts that spiral through your mind when all you want to do is find the off switch. Or the roller coaster of moods can bring you from, “I’m going to have a great day, look at my to do list. Yummy, I love chocolate creamers…This takes too much energy, maybe I will just spend some time with my cat. Maybe have a sleeping contest. I’m tired, overwhelmed. I give up.”
I read an article by Natasha Tracy a few days ago, (who is my blogger hero) on “high functioning” bipolarism. She shared of the struggle to give anything to your life after you have spent it trying to be normal. Holding down a normal schedule, keeping the look of “stable” for someone with bipolar is a gigantic task. It is exhausting ,and I agree with her 100%. And this is all with medication. Could you imagine it without? What?!
Definitely not alone in this but it’s hard to find someone to talk to you who really, really understands; I’m told by my family while having a conversation around the dinner table, “Amy, you are not supposed to say that out loud.” Whatever I had said I had thought, and it came out of my mouth. They love me, and are gentle and kind but sometimes laugh when my bipolar thoughts make an appearance at the wrong time. But when is the right time to share bipolar thoughts? Like an unwelcome guest, I must turn off the front porch light and pretend I’m not home.
However, those days teach me about myself, what I can and cannot handle, and how important it is to give myself permission to have flaws, to be human, and to have bad days. ( No! my inner critic says, you’re not allowed to be weak)
Here are 10 things I’ve learned from my bipolar:
1. Medication doesn’t fix everything, just some things. The rest I’m going to have to work out in therapy; learning proper self-care, and using my support system.
2. Not everything I struggle with is from my illness. (but most of it is)
3. I can live a healthy life, but not a normal one. (define normal = a life without mental illness)
4. My bipolar and bulimia make me special. (I don’t want to be special)
5. I am braver than I ever thought possible, but did not set out to be. I just wanted to survive.
6. People will not always accept me for who I am, and I am okay with that.
7. I start over everyday. Like on a board game, landing on “go back to home”. I am starting from scratch each day, building new experiences and strength. I used up all my strength and mindfulness yesterday.
8. I will never know everything about myself. That’s okay.
9. I am more than my illness.
10. I appreciate when I can smile, even a little.