Now, this post may seem a little bit peculiar.
I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching recently and in an attempt to break the stigma of bipolar, I thought I would list 30 ‘good things’ which have come from living with it.
I think it is important to reflect on things – it might not be what’s happening, but how we handle it which makes the difference. Bipolar can often feel like a life sentence, but it has shaped me into the person I am now – I can choose to see that in a good or bad way.
Today I am here to remind you of a few powerful, yet easily forgotten, ‘side effects’ of having bipolar.
1. My bipolar makes me more empathetic. I believe I can often pick up on and read people’s emotions better. I’m also more sensitive to their emotions too – I can often almost feel them for myself. Pain is a part of life and it helps you to grow – but it definitely helps to have someone to share it with.
2. My bipolar has made me less judgemental. I like to think I am less likely to judge others and their experiences after having my own. I am very rarely shocked.
3. My bipolar keeps me balanced. Weird right? Having mood swings has taught me to be balanced… I have seen the dark to appreciate the light. I have been so high, I thought I was never coming down again. Mindset is half the battle. Choosing recovery every day is often harder than the mood swings because it’s a choice that’s in your control.
4. My bipolar makes me want to help others. I like to think I have a wonderful opportunity to help others just by telling my story. Stories are so powerful, and all seven billion of us have one. Some of the hardest and most heartbreaking stories come from the most loving and well-rounded people I have ever met. I remember being desperate to hear anyone else’s stories about mental illness, hoping to find something relatable. If I can even impact on one other person to make their story easier, it will all be worth it.
5. My bipolar makes me want to help others gain access to the mental health system. Despite its flaws, for all the people who have received poor care or fallen through the cracks, everyone should have access to the help they deserve. Everyone should know how to get help. Whilst getting help can take time, everyone should know that help is out there and they are worthy of it.
6. My bipolar can give me lots of energy. Admittedly, this can be an issue but some days its the boost I need to get stuff done and get back on track. Some days are great, just because of the bipolar.
7. My bipolar can give me courage. When talking about risk-taking, it often means its a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s just what you need to get out of your comfort zone. I feel like I’ve grown a lot through experience – more often than not things will turn out okay.
8. My bipolar has driven me to take care of myself – proper care. As I’m firmly in the swing of recovery, the present is all I really have to deal with. I need to take care of my physical health – what I eat, how much water I drink, how much sleep I get, whether I leave the house… When these things start to slip, I know that my bipolar is too. Everyone treats physical health like its different from mental health; I think they’re both the same thing.
9. My bipolar helps me to be creative. I love to take photos. I love to scrapbook. I love to colour. I love to read. I love to write. Now I’ve found my voice, I love to express myself about my bipolar – it’s like I’ve met the real me for the first time.
10. My bipolar has strengthened my important relationships. Relationships are tough. A relationship with me can be really tough. But that’s how I know Brad loves me because he never makes me feel like I am. From the very beginning, he’s been amazing, more than I could ever ask for. He took it all in his stride, never used it against me, and just wanted to learn how to make me feel like me again. I’ve never met anyone who has treated me the way he has.
11. My bipolar has given me lived experience – more valuable than anything I ever learned at university. It isn’t always a bad thing, it’s what makes life interesting.
12. My bipolar gives me perspective on emotions. At the beginning when I was diagnosed, I couldn’t tell you the difference between any emotion really. They all hurt. Now I’m learning to know what they mean, to be able to describe them, to feel them. I’m teaching myself about how to regulate them, let them come and let them go. If only 15 year-old-me could see me now.
13. My bipolar teaches me how to appreciate good moments when they’re here. Trying to be happy for now is one of the hardest but most valuable lessons I am currently going through. I need to lose the idea that things could have ever been any different.
14. My bipolar makes me different from a lot of people. I think differently. I act differently. I see things differently. I have to check on myself more. I have to take meds. I have monthly blood tests. I don’t drink alcohol. I’m trying to turn this into a good thing, but it is one of my biggest insecurities.
15. My bipolar also makes me the same as a lot of people. Friends. Celebs. Strangers. Relatives. There’s a whole group of people who are just like me, going about their lives, and we don’t even know each other. It’s a weird way to feel connected to others. Just knowing that someone gets it.
16. My bipolar has shown me who my true friends are. I am thankful for those who stand by me through my chaos- not everyone can ride the storm with me. I know now I am surrounded by people who actually want to be here and will support me. It’s important for my friends to know that it’s not a choice, just my disorder.
17. My bipolar helps me to help others who have bipolar disorder. Every blog post I write has something I wish I knew before in. I hope others read it and take something away.
18. My bipolar makes me want to raise awareness about mental health and mental illnesses. My bipolar touches every inch of my life, that’s why I believe it is so important to talk about it and support each other and ourselves.
19. My bipolar has made me resilient. In the midst of mood swings, it can be easy to look around and want to give up. To see everyone else doing fine, doing better than you. But they’re not. I like to think I’ve been thrown these obstacles to prove that I am determined. I didn’t come this far, to only come this far.
20. My bipolar gives me strength. I fight. I survive. It’s something that comes from me, not other people. I often look to others to validate my progress, but the truth is they can’t. It has to come from me.
21. My bipolar makes me want to break the stigma. I will talk loud and proud until every misconception of this disorder disappears.
22. My bipolar makes me more relatable to others – especially those going through difficult times. I don’t try to pretend I’m something I’m not. I don’t try to hide when I’m not okay. I don’t try to pretend I’m doing better than I am. I’m just me.
23. My bipolar has taught me to have a routine. It sounds simple but so effective. I would not be as organised as I am without my bipolar.
24. My bipolar diagnosis allowed me to start my life. I understood myself for the first time – things almost clicked. I had access to services because of my diagnosis. I had medication options to try. I had a [useful] label that couldn’t be taken away from me. Knowing that I wasn’t actively causing all of my problems really helped me to address them.
25. My bipolar has taught me how to ask for what I want. Psychologists. Psychiatrists. GPs. Doctors. Nurses. University Support Services. School. College. Friends. Family. Employers. Years of talking about it to people have taught me what I want. What I deserve. This is my life after all, and it can seem like people/ organisations forget that once I leave their meetings.
26. My bipolar has taught me to focus on what I can control and not what I can’t.
27. My bipolar shows me what I’m grateful for. If I was never diagnosed with bipolar, or in fact, if I never had it, my life would be very different from how it is now. I believe therefore it’s helped me to gain a lot of the things which I value in life.
28. My bipolar diagnosis has taught me to forgive myself for my past. You can’t change situations you don’t take responsibility for. I feel like I can move on from that part of my life knowing how my diagnosis fits into it.
29. My bipolar has led me to start this blog. It really gives me great joy to put feelings into words and share them with you.
30. My bipolar has made me question whether I want to be alive, and I’ve said yes. For a while I didn’t want to be here, there may be times in the future when I question it again, but I know deep down now that I do.