The importance of reaching out for help through our struggles can never be over-stated. This passage explores the experiences of Natalia in overcoming her challenges with Bipolar. She is a hero for sharing.
“Living with bipolar, especially for many years, teaches you a lot about yourself, about the mental health services, about medication…and sadly often about stigma, shame, and discrimination.
I feel like I’m riding a constant rollercoaster of moods. Depression can feel utterly shit and the worst thing in the world. But mania is the dangerous one. This can be a challenge when many believe mania to be exciting.
Bipolar can be triggered by trauma, or other life events and sometimes part of therapy is addressing underlying concerns to get someone to a point where they can start to see a life worth living.
Despite what others may tell you, or what you might believe, recovery is possible. I never thought I could be a worthwhile human being and have something meaningful to offer. That’s just the illness speaking and the effects of learned stigma. It doesn’t need to be that way.
I have learnt that I am more resilient than I could have ever imagined. I have discovered that there is more to life than getting a degree or a good job.
I have learnt how important it is to reach out to others when I am unwell, even when I don’t feel like being around others. Going through episodes alone has had some disastrous consequences in the past.
Keeping well when you have bipolar is an interesting concept. For some it revolves exclusively around managing moods. For others it means fitting life around moods. For me, and others like me who are deep into a recovery that seems to be holding, it’s about keeping an eye, and investing in the things that help us all boost our mental health.
For many, if not most people with bipolar, life and keeping well includes taking medication, even though you don’t want to. I know it’s tempting to hinge every experience and feeling you’ve ever had on the diagnosis, and to an extent, it’s a very natural thing to do, but you’re still you, you still have your own feelings and thoughts, and your own language and perception of your own life. Try not to adopt an illness identity. You are you. Not bipolar. Get to know yourself.
Reachout to other people with the diagnosis, whether that be through a community support group or via social media. It’s easy to feel the shock of isolation when you are first diagnosed. I believe that hearing other people’s experiences and connecting to those who are in the same boat can not only help with accepting the illness, but with also providing sense of ‘normality’ within the community.
Lastly work with bipolar rather than against it. Pretending it doesn’t exist won’t make it go away. In fact, it will make it so much more difficult to control.
I have a motto and it’s listen, learn and love. Even though I’ve gone through a mood decrease in the last week, I’m learning to help myself, I’ve learned you shouldn’t put all your troubles on your friends, it will make you look and selfish even though your probably not, it will seem like you are. By helping yourself you are helping others.
Recently I nearly had a slip up, someone told me something devestating, something that made me question myself. It made me feel so alone and such a bad person. It was definitely a blow to my heart. I started to believe the voices again.
I was alone in the house, my mother had gone out and I thought this is my chance to just end it all, but then I remembered that I can’t do this, I can’t be selfish because that will make everyone including the voices right about me.
I’m glad I didn’t do anything, I’m proud that I managed to get myself out of that dark mood, I didn’t call anyone to tell them how I’m feeling, which at that time was the right thing to do. That night was so difficult for me because it made me feel such a bad person and selfish but I’m trying not to be, I want to do better.
Moral of this is to think first before you take action, if you have been told something that hurts you, don’t do anything you’ll regret, sleep on it and think about it the next day or just distract yourself, which sometimes does help. Keep track of your progress and remind yourself that you are a good person despite your illness.”
Brought to you by Natalia