My readers, fellow sufferers.
I live happily in our beautiful home. Where one room is devoted to my love of reading, a vast library that is my sanctuary. My husband and I have two beautiful children, a boy, and a girl. My children are my heroes, they bring so much love and happiness into our lives. It’s been amazing to watch them grow from sparkly-eyed children to fun-loving, clever individuals with their own unique personalities. It hasn’t always been easy, we have had our ups and downs, but doesn’t everyone? We are simply a normal family.
I will be forever grateful to my children, they think I am their hero, but they are mine. They gave me the strength and motivation over the years that I have needed to stay well, they rescued me from falling into the darkest deepest hole and saved me from my illness.
A seed has to die before it can produce a bountiful harvest. And perhaps I had to experience an emotional death. All of the decay and destruction in my life was to be burned away to discover how beautiful my life really was. At first, living with bipolar disorder felt like death, but as I struggled through the years I came to see my illness differently. It was not a door that locked me in and closed me off from experiencing the world in a normal way.
Rather, it was a window, into the manic interpretation of the world and with the shutters held open and the breeze rolling in. I could acknowledge it, even admire the view and then move on.
I’d thought bipolar disorder put me ten years behind in everything. I couldn’t do a lot of things that came easily to people of my age. For a long time, I felt like I was in my own world. And yet, in other ways, this illness pushed me forward, full-throttle into the wisdom beyond my years. Teetering on the brink of what felt like the complete destruction of my soul and somehow tumbling out alive has taught me some invaluable lessons about life, for which I would not trade a single moment of the hell I lived through to learn them. I actually see my illness very positively because it posed important challenges for me and taught me many lessons, now today, I deeply appreciate what I took for granted before my illness. Now I appreciate every ounce of my confidence.
There are so many things just waiting to be noticed and enjoyed. If I miss them, I will miss some of the most beautiful gifts that my life can offer – simple things like having a normal conversation with a friend over a cup of tea or interacting with others without feeling anxious and lost; spending an afternoon with my own company, content and without feeling constantly restless. Reading a book, having a sit by the window, in the warm afternoon sun; having a family and a place to call home.
Having this illness has also taught me that I don’t have to prove anything to anybody, a feeling that is indescribably liberating. I know who I am and I don’t care what other people think.
I learned that I can’t be afraid of sorrow, a natural and unavoidable part of life. Instead, I welcome it, a normal, and human, upset. Life is a journey, with ups and downs, twists and turns, gentle hills and massive pot-holes. Problems will come, without a doubt, but ultimate wisdom is in how to deal with them instead of running away.
I do not regret the struggles but take pride in how they have positively molded my character. My illness has made me strong, patient, insightful, confident and content. It has made me a better person, a better wife, a better sister, daughter, and mother. I know that I would not be the person I am today without my illness.
I now have the ability to recognize the onslaught of a manic episode. I could – can – identify signs and symptoms as they are happening. And instead of caving into them, I acknowledge and take control of them.
I have not let this disease defeat me. The battles were not easy but I was learning how to fight them and stay healthy. I am convinced, now more so than ever, that bipolar disorder was merely a part of me – it did not define me. Finally, I am comfortable in my own skin.
For some people, it takes being ‘reborn’ like this to realize how beautiful their life really is. At least, that’s what it took for me.
When you have gotten through, and you will get through, you will see that every struggle, every challenge, and every tear shed has only made you stronger. Life is too short to constantly ruminate over what you could have done better.
But living a beautiful life is not merely a destination – it is a choice; you don’t get any marks just for turning up. I wouldn’t change anything about my past. I am who I am today exactly because of the things that happened to me on this journey until the present. Now I have an inner peace, for which I have been longing for years. I know who I am and I don’t care what other people think. I realize what life is all about. It’s hanging on when your heart has had enough. It’s giving more when you feel like giving up. And when you do hang on, when you do give more, life has so much to give you in return: gift upon beautiful gift, just waiting to be opened by a brighter, happier individual. I am that individual, and you can be too.
Thank you for reading.