“I don’t want to stay in the bad place, where no one believes in silver linings or love or happy endings.” ―Matthew Quick, The Silver Linings Playbook
Sometimes I feel like everything there is to be said, has been said about mental illness. Or perhaps I’m just reaching a new level with my illness. My radicalization. Sometimes it feels as if I’ve read every inspirational quote or meme ever made. Some of them I’ve even written or made myself.
Yes, you wouldn’t tell me to get over it if I had cancer.
No, you wouldn’t question me taking insulin if I were diabetic.
I have spoken, written, or blogged about every possible aspect of having bipolar disorder and anxiety. I did it at first as a catharsis for myself. Later, it was for journaling my experiences. Lastly, it became a way to share my life with others for a “me too” moment. If someone like me can reach the very bottom, try to give up, and rise back up to stability and contentment—so, too, can others. Maybe not everyone, but I like to think I have encouraged some with my life stories.
But now what? Where do I go from here?
Fortunately, due to a brilliant psychiatrist, an effective med buffet, hours and hours of therapy and a commitment to learning cognitive skills, and med compliance–I have remained stable for nearly five years. After a decade of depression and a few wild roller coaster rides, I’ve become the master of my domain and a poster girl for stability.
I don’t even think of my bipolar anymore. It’s not part of my conversation, nor my physicality. Sure, I’m tied to pill trays in the morning and at night, but otherwise, I motor along blending in like anyone else. I no longer have panic attacks, rarely get down, and that infamous bipolar rage is mostly in check.
I’m just so over it.
Am I still a mental health advocate? Absolutely. Will I continue to share my story? Yes, the written ones, but I find that reaching back to re-experience the memories to write new ones is sometimes a hazard to my health.
I’m so many other things than a girl with bipolar disorder. It is last on my list of descriptors and something I rarely share with new friends. It would be like saying, “Oh, yes, did I mention I have hemochromatosis?” Which I do, but it would be so random to insert this fact into a conversation. And this is what bipolar has become for me.
Is there a place for stable people? Some secret society like Mensa where you can be happy about it among members, but appear empathetic out in the world. And I am. I honestly and truly am a natural empath. But I can no longer build my life around this mental illness.
So if you meet a girl on the street and find a contented person who tells you she paints, draws, restores old furniture, sews and knits, volunteers, and takes care of her 85-year-old mother–please be very happy for her. She loves life and especially loves her hard-earned life. Oh, and one small thing—she has bipolar disorder.