Have you ever been on a roller coaster? A big one? Where it has these heights that are truly high, allowing you to see for miles around? And then it has these drops that make you think that you will crash and burn? Roller coasters are fun. But now I want you to imagine being on the sort of roller coaster I just described, permanently. And I also want you to imagine that on this roller coaster, you can’t see what’s in front of you. You can’t see where the coaster is going, you are at the mercy of the track. Imagine every day of every week, of every year, you constantly go through intense highs and frightening lows, without having any warning. Welcome to being bipolar.
I’ve been dealing with bipolar disorder for years now. Oddly enough it wasn’t until the beginning of this year that I was able to put a label on what was wrong with me. Going through intense manic and depressive episodes weren’t normal, I knew that. I just didn’t know what to call it.
Learning you have a ‘mental illness’ isn’t an easy pill to swallow. At least for me, it wasn’t. Dealing with a mental illness is even harder. How do you deal with an enemy, when the enemy is your brain? Its linked to you, it’s a part of you. Wherever you go, it follows you. And it often chooses the most inconvenient times to manifest itself. It’s always just beneath the surface, waiting to come out. And the war is never-ending. So, how do you fight?
What helps me is remembering a simple phrase. It’s the title of this post, “Always stay positive, always keep fighting.” For me, always stay positive means looking at the good in situations. Like last week, I was taking a long car trip. I had woke up that day in a fantastic mood, and a few hours later, I felt so down. No particular reason. I was just thinking about things that bothered me, and I felt myself getting dragged lower, and lower. I came dangerously close to getting depressed. I then remembered my little phrase, and it reminded me to think of the good. I focused my mind on everything great that happened that day. I had a great cup of coffee, I was reading a book I really liked, I was with my family, and we’re all healthy, I have an incredible, amazing girlfriend. I was staying positive. I wasn’t pretending that life was beautiful. I simply refocused my mind. I have to go back and single out every good thing that happened to me that day. It’s usually something small. It gets tedious sometimes, but you have to do it.
“Always keep fighting” is something I picked up from James Edgar Skye. I realize he didn’t come up with the phrase, but I learned it from him just the same. Repeating that to myself helps me refocus my mind. It reminds me that dealing with bipolar disorder isn’t a war to be won, it’s a battle you fight daily. You have to take each day as it comes. And you must never give up. Never quit. Sometimes depression will try to drag you down and consume you. Sometimes the mania will launch you into overdrive, and you’ll feel like you’re on a speeding train with no brakes. Sometimes you’ll want to just give in and not try to fight at all. But I’m encouraging you, don’t. This life is worth it. Your life is worth it. It’s worth fighting to be happy.
Fighting gets exhausting sometimes. Sometimes you can lose focus. That’s why the phrase is short and simple. It’s easy to remember and yet it has so much packed into it. Stay strong. Always stay positive, always keep fighting!