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  • Janice posted an update 8 years, 11 months ago

    I used to think that mental health was my domain because I have been the one personally struggling with the disorder. I believed that my friends and family had no right to speak sense into me when I peaked in my times of mania. I protested angrily, imagining that my sisters were trying to keep me down because of a competitive spirit. As I have progressed through the stages of denial, anger and acceptance, I now understand that mental health belongs to everyone who lives with the disorder, as well as those who love the individuals.

    I used to keep a blog very imperfectly. As I would type fast and furiously, I would race to click the “publish now” button. I have bore my heart and soul to the public because I desperately wanted to release myself from the solitude of my experience. A couple days later, I would read my blog. Finding it an interesting but embarrassing read, the wallflower in me would sense alarm at my frivolous exposure, and I would delete the blog without even saving it in “private” mode. I would lose the bold and honest words with which I could use to reflect upon my own life, or even help anyone who happened to read it.

    This theme of self-sabotage ran throughout my life. In my twenties, I had grown accustomed to quitting anything organized which required commitment or persistence. I had worked at over 30 jobs by the time I was 31. I had dated dozens of men, even though I preferred to say that I had four major boyfriends (all of whom I have left.)

    I share my story because it is not all bad. I want to imbue hope for a meaningful life which breaks the limitations of a diagnosis. Here is a little secret: the “struggle” with bipolar disorder actually can heal our minds, providing a greater inner strength in ourselves than if we never struggled. For instance, people can be trained to score higher on an IQ test than those who would have been called gifted with the high scores. When students with learning disabilities are taught new ways to solve problems, they can compensate for the achievement gap, and even build the skills necessary to fulfill their hopes and dreams.

    Although I am not saying that I am more wealthy or healthy than someone else by typical standards (such as owning a house, cars, beautiful kids, and a loving spouse), I am here to say that I feel grateful for my unique path, what is in front of me and also behind me. Attaining this fulfilled lifestyle is actually a gift from my Creator, because He has given each person their own special strengths. I have found from a book called StrengthsFinder by author Tom Rath, that I am most talented in the areas of empathy, positivity, and curiosity (the desire for input). No matter how despairing I am in my worst moments, I believe that my life, like yours, is brilliant.

    As aforementioned, my formative years felt heavy and chaotic. As an imperfect, capricious soul with a lifelong diagnosis of bipolar, I cannot justify writing about a day in the life. One cannot quantifiably calculate the joy or misery of a day, as if it were an arithmetic mean. Even if I listed off a few of my “bipolar” traits, I cannot presume to speak on behalf of everyone with bipolar. As for me, because I am holding onto hope, and because I am fixed on the silver linings with a gratitude for my present situation, I am tremendously blessed. Life is not perfect. I have my bad days and good days, but I am sustained and alive today because for some reason, Jesus wanted to preserve me. I know my work here on earth is not finished, and that I have a unique purpose.