The first step to recovery is discovering that no one can make you want to get better or get better for you. You have to do it for yourself. You have to choose to get better. You have to want to get help. I will admit, choosing to get better can be terrifying because you are stepping into the unknown. For many people with mental illness “normal” is something we cannot remember ever feeling. We know what it’s like to feel depressed, manic, suicidal, or anxious, but what does “normal” feel like? While we hate with a passion the anxiety, we hate the depression, and most of all we hate feeling alone, we don’t know anything different and we are terrified of what life could hold for us.
As I sit here on my couch writing I wonder what a “normal life”, without depression, anxiety, OCD, Bipolar Disorder, mania and all of the other emotions that come with it, would feel like. I am terrified that without the highs of mania life will not be as exciting. I am terrified I will never feel the rush that comes along with the mania, the invincibility, the courage, and the confidence. I am terrified that without depression holding me back I will be thrust into new, different, and terrifying situations and again without the mania to give me confidence, how will I handle these situations? I am terrified that without anxiety and my constant worrying, something bad will happen because I won’t be as vigilant. But most of all I am terrified that I won’t be myself without my mental illness because it has made me who I am today.
However, becoming normal brings with it more pros than cons. Normal means not feeling depressed, not wanting to die. I means feelings of joy and happiness. For me, I hope it means no more of the regrets that mania brings along with it. I hope it means that I will live long enough to see my future godchildren grow up. I hope it means that I will live long enough to have my own children and to find the love of my life. I hope it means I will be able to find joy in the little things and that I will have the opportunity to grow old.
So, do it for you. Get better because it means a brighter future, less regret, and more time with loved ones. Because experiencing one more laugh, one more hug, one more anything is worth it.
One of the many common symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and the mania that comes with it is regret. Mania has a way of making you feel invincible, it has a way of lowering inhibitions and making decisions for you. Many times regret follows these manic times because the experiences you have while manic stray from the person you are while stable. I wasn’t diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder until the age of 19, but I had been showing symptoms of the disorder for about a year or two maybe more before my diagnosis. However, at 19 is when it peeked. This is when I attempted suicide and also when I began to become unrecognizable to family and friends as I began to engage in destructive behavior uncharacteristic of my previous self. Remembering my past is at times difficult for me. As look back on the times I broke the strict rules I had for myself and became someone I wasn’t I get a pit in my stomach; I become nauseous at the reality that at one point in my life I did these things and became that person. However they say that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, so it’s not that I want to forget my past, it’s that I need to learn to embrace my mistakes and short coming and turn it into something constructive. Breaking the “rules” is something that has been frowned upon since we were little. In school we were taught to listen to the teacher, raise our hand to be called on, and to use our words. So, it’s only natural that breaking the “rules” or expectations we have for ourselves would be disturbing to our character, but what I have learned is that breaking the rules teaches us about who we want to be. We learn more about ourselves when we make mistakes than when we live a perfect life. And for the record no one lives a perfect life.
Sometimes it is necessary to live for something other than yourself because living for yourself isn’t enough. It’s not enough to keep you alive. Sometimes living for a moment or for a person or for an event is necessary to keep afloat and this is something many people who aren’t bipolar and who don’t have a mental illness don’t understand. So, what do you do when you are living for a moment or an event and that moment or event passes and is gone? What do you do when you’re living for a person and that person either dies or becomes someone not worth living for? As I sit here the wedding day of my best friend approaching I sit and I wonder. I wonder what I will do when I don’t have this event, this moment to look forward to anymore. I wonder if I will be enough to live for and I wonder how much longer it will be until another person or moment comes along that is amazing enough to want to live for. But, there is a problem with picking people to live for. While I would easily choose any member of my family or any of my closest friends choosing a person to live for is much harder than it sounds because you see when you choose a person, you live and die with each interaction you have with them. By this I mean that if you and this person have a fight and you’re angry with them they may become less of a person to live for and your life therefore is threatened. The thing with living for people is that it’s very dangerous to live for something that is merely human and can make mistakes. What’s easier is to live for a moment something that you can make up in you’re mind bright and shinny, so that you can imagine the moment perfectly and think of it often.