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Bipolar disorder is a condition that includes episodes of mood swings ranging from severe depressive lows to manic high points. The goal for people that suffer with this disorder is to find their middle ground between the two extremes and hold on tight to this comfortable feeling for as long as possible. Accomplishing this is extremely difficult and takes a lot of perseverance and positivity (even if you have to fake it sometimes).
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder earlier this year and it rocked my entire world. It was an awful pill to swallow and I felt completely absorbed in all of the stereotypes and negativity that I believed this disorder would bring into my life. I thought of the people who would consider me different or unstable, which perfectly fits this society’s stereotype of a “crazy bipolar.” I was scared of the lifelong medications that I would have to take and the awful side effects listed on the side of those little orange bottles. I was embarrassed of the little check mark I would have to place in the disability section of my applications. I was nervous that it would affect my relationships and my ability to be successful. I thought of my future family and was ashamed that my disorder could control my ability to be a good mom or wife.
I worried about these things constantly and I let this new, small piece of my life ruin my bigger picture. I constantly used it as a crutch when I couldn’t put my emotions or feelings into words, hoping that it would pass as an excuse. I became angry and resentful of what had happened to me and the new life that I was forced to live. It took complete control over me, from the way I presented myself to the way I viewed other people. It damaged relationships that would take a long time to fix, and even made me lose some of the people that I valued the most. I lost a major part of myself that I loved and fell deeper into a very dark place.
This part of my life took me a long time to accept, but I have come out of it stronger than ever. The most important lesson I got out of all of this was that a mental illness can never define who you are as a person or inhibit what you want to do with your life. People that suffer from mental illness are some of the most amazing, badass individuals I have ever met. They see the world in different ways and are able to put that experience into their daily lives. They have kind hearts and a great sense of empathy that they are willing to share with everyone. They understand what struggle looks like and how difficult life can be for the majority of people and they strive to help with these things.
If you are suffering from a mental illness you should be so proud and realize how much good you can put into the world. Take care of your body, take your medications, and eat healthy. Practice self-love and enjoy things that satisfy your needs and make you happy to be alive. Open up to those around you. They love you and want to help even if they don’t fully understand. Enjoy therapy and the joys that come with being told you aren’t crazy and being able to vent for a solid hour. It is so much easier said than done, but there is nothing more satisfying than accepting your disorder and using it to fuel a life that is amazing and full of good things.
I definitely think that working through all of this and finding a path for what I wanted in life has been one of my biggest trials. There have been countless nights of tears, days filled with frustration, and times when I felt like I wanted to scream because I was stuck in my head. I understand that this process is one that will continually take effort and you will have many times when you feel like all you do is screw up, but every day is a clean state and one day the happiness will start to feel normal instead of something forced and uncomfortable.
You deserve to feel comfortable in your own body and take pride in your mind and personality. Push yourself to become the person you want to be and when those negative thoughts creep in (and they definitely will), use your coping skills to block them out and remind yourself what you are working towards. My biggest motivation in all of this is to prove that mental illness is very real, but should never be something that is looked down on or ridiculed. I am going to prove to the world that I will finish college, work as a crime scene investigator, be a wonderful mom and daughter, and enjoy all the crazy and wonderful parts of my life; and I will accomplish all of these things knowing that my bipolar disorder will never be a part of who Kylee actually is.