Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder over 15 years ago, I considered that my life was inevitably doomed and I would succumb to the same fate as my mother. Growing up, my mom had multiple hospitalizations, numerous suicide attempts and a mental illness that tried to claim her life time and time again. In the past, I have spent many nights staring at a hospital wall in a psychiatric unit and have pondered in dread, “Why am I cursed with this mental illness and what will become of me?”
Fearing the Curse of Bipolar Disorder
At the age of 25 years old, I plunged into a bipolar episode that eventually convinced me that I did not have a
promising future and I feared the curse of this illness that soon enveloped my entire life. I was always known as an outgoing and successful person to the world, someone who wildly chased her ambitions and succeeded in meeting her personal goals. I may have had bipolar symptoms growing up, but nothing that pointed to the fact that I was headed for an immense mental breakdown that nearly claimed my entire existence. My downward spiral included a immense mania that lasted for weeks, which sparked a maddening psychosis that soon led to a depression that disabled me for months. Subsequent to my first hospitalization, I medicated myself to sleep day and night for two entire weeks. I could not stand to see the daylight and the only time that I felt at ease was when I was not awake.
Bipolar disorder stripped me of my dignity, confidence, and a belief that life could actually get better. As I scribbled a letter in an attempt to explain why I was going to end my life, I could not form one coherent sentence. During my university years, I produced five thousand word essays in two days, but I could no longer write anything at all. I was hollow and there was nothing left inside of me. It felt as if this curse robbed me of who I was and I believed the lie that I did not deserve to live because it was never going to get better.
Embracing Bipolar Disorder and the Gifts to Follow
I have always been a passionate person, but before bipolar disorder, I lacked significant meaning and happiness in my life. I did not feel that I had a cause to strive for, or even a place in the world where my light truly shined. I always felt uneasy about where to live, what to do and who to be. I had a gaping hole of insecurity in my heart and I never felt at peace. Once I realized that bipolar disorder is manageable, I have since been blessed with astounding gifts due to my efforts in spreading awareness about mental illness. I reflect on founding the Stigma-Free Society and I often ponder, “Who would I be and what would I be doing with my life if I had never been diagnosed with this mental illness?”
The pain that I experienced felt unbearable at the time, and while in the midst of my struggles, I could not see beyond the borders of this curse. However, these experiences have taught me that I have a choice in how I approach and manage my illness.
There are still days that I am deeply challenged, but because I have been through so much devastation, I am now equipped to get through anything. It is so difficult to see any light in this illness, but when I reflect on the challenges that I have overcome, I am grateful to embrace others, understand my mother’s hardships, and appreciate all of the gifts that have been so graciously given to me over the years. I know now that I would not have wanted my life to have gone any other way.
Have you found any positive meaning and/or purpose from having bipolar disorder?
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community