Discerning who you are apart from your illness is no easy feat. At times I have thoroughly convinced myself I am perfectly fine. I rationalize away my mood swings, from extreme irritability to absolutely no semblance of control and let us not forget those so beloved dark days.
Having people in your life who not only minimize but trivialize your illness is the exact opposite of what you need. Sure they are wonderful when you want to stop taking your medication(s) and/or challenge any diagnosis. They come in handy only when you start to jeopardize your health and quite literally put your life on the line.
It is very common for people like myself to object to their disorder even though they may have shown complete understanding and acceptance in the past. We are so easily prone to want to deny our illness. There are a variety of reasons, generally those with Bipolar I enjoy the feeling of mania and more often than not they will start to abstain from taking their meds. It’s not that they want to put their lives in danger. It’s not that they are intentionally trying to ruin themselves or anyone else. They miss the highs and also interestingly enough they miss being themselves.
Woah, what is she talking about? That might have been some transference but I can attest to feeling that way. As I have mentioned before I have Bipolar II so I experience hypomania (a less severe form of mania) and more depressive episodes. The point I’m trying to get across is simple. At times is IS hard discerning myself from my illness because after all what would I be without it?
I wouldn’t be me. This is how I have been and will always be. Regardless of the genetic and environmental factors I am here today with this illness. It is apart of me and that’s OK because I will always do my best to remember through it all I am unique and I will always possess my individuality.
But hey! I have some advice and although it is quite simplistic I think it’s worthwhile to note. First off it is absolutely necessary to either remove those who deny your illness or cut down contact to a minimum. (Family gatherings etc.) Secondly it is okay to give yourself a break. You’re not going to accept it 100%. Maybe there are those of you who would beg to differ but I think we can at least agree it won’t be easy. Lastly your illness is apart of you. The more you try to escape it the more worn down you will get.
Mental illness does not define us but we must tend to it and nurture it as our own.