Why I’m (Sort of) Thankful for Bipolar Disorder

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! This morning I came across a post on bphope.com titled “I Am Thankful for Bipolar” (You can read it HERE). My thought before reading the article was, “Uhhhh…no. You, my blogger friend on bp hope, are clearly even more nuts than me.” But as I started reading, I realized that maybe there are pieces to be thankful for. And, on this national day of thanks, I thought maybe I’d try it. Can I really be thankful for what seems like the worst thing that’s ever happened to me? Well….maybe yes. I’m going to give it a shot, anyway. And it’s like coping with bipolar itself – you don’t go from “my life is over” to “total acceptance” in one day. I haven’t even gotten there in two years. But maybe I can baby step my way to this thankfulness thing. So, here we go:

REASONS WHY I’M SORT OF THANKFUL FOR BIPOLAR DISORDER

1. I learned what true love is. My husband has always been a great man, but now I am truly humbled and blown away by how much he has been there for me. The lesson I’ve learned is this: true love isn’t roses and diamonds. True love is when I was hiding in my closet because I was scared during a panic attack, and he found me, wedged himself into my tiny closet even though he totally doesn’t fit, and said, “I’ll just hang out here because it’s hard to be scared alone.” Umm…HEART-EYED EMOJI. That’s what love looks like, my friends.

2. I learned who my real friends are. Turns out I had a lot of fake friends, and I didn’t even know it. You would be shocked at how many people drop off the map as soon as they learn you’re bipolar (no, you probably wouldn’t be shocked. Most of the people reading this are my mentally ill friends, so YOU KNOW). But I’ve had friends who have been there for me in huge ways. It’s like I threw all my friends into a colander and saw who came out on the other side still with me. Now I know who to count on when things get rough.

3. It humbled me. Looking at the first two items on my list, you can see that I’ve needed a lot of help and support. Everyone does. I used to live under this delusion that I was fine by myself. Literally my first sentence as a toddler was, “I can do it” because I was mad that someone was trying to help me into my high chair. Well, newsflash, baby me: you need help. We all need help. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we’ll stop running ourselves into the ground trying to do the impossible.

4. It taught me about hope. If you’ve ever felt depression, you know the crushing darkness of the word “hopeless.” But that also means that hope, when you find it, is the most glorious treasure imaginable. It’s like people not appreciating the sun unless they’ve seen the rain. Friends, I HAVE SEEN THE RAIN. But then I have also seen the sun peek out from behind the clouds, and I’m able to see that with a joy that people who have always been stable would never be able to experience.

5. It helps me see life as a second chance. A suicide attempt is never good. Ever. But the fact that I tried to take my life two years ago means that every day I live now is part of a second chance. I really see it that way – I am thankful for every good experience because I occasionally realize, “I almost missed this.” Also, I see life as fragile, and I am determined to make the most of the second chance I have. I don’t waste experiences like I may have if I took it for granted that I’d live to be old.

6. It changed my view on mental illness. When I was on SSRIs for depression and they never worked, I started thinking that maybe most mental illnesses were just people not handling life well and looking for a scapegoat. HA. I was wrong. I don’t need to explain this to you, but mental illness is very real. You know that, now I know that, and some of my family members and friends know that now too. I’ve raised awareness for these issues with my life. Maybe people know a little more now, and it can make other people with mental illness experience 1% less stigma than they would have otherwise. That’s a definite win.

7. It gave me a book to write. I’ve always loved writing, but since being diagnosed, I’ve written my best book yet. It’s about a high school girl with bp. I just finished revising it about a month ago, and I’ve had eight agents request the full manuscript. Keep your fingers crossed for me that it sells – I could be raising awareness on a larger scale if this book were to be published.

8. It gave me YOU! You blog people are some of the finest people I’ve known. You’re supportive, you’re not judgy, you’ll laugh with me, you’ll cry with me, and I can feel infinitely less alone in this struggle. Thanks for being there. I’m thankful for literally each person reading this post. For many of you, I read your stuff too, and I love it. Thank you for writing. If not for my bp, I never would have met you.

9. It made me who I am. In a book I once read, a girl with Asperger’s said that her disorder saved her from “the banality of normalcy.” I like that quote. Even though sometimes I wish for “normal” more than I want anything else, I do have to admit that normal can be boring. Whatever this illness is, it is NOT boring. I’m wild, I’m goofy, I’m a creative writer…who knows how much of that is tied to the way my brain works? I wouldn’t want to lose any of those things, so if any of them are connected to my freaky brain chemistry, then I’m thankful for that.

There you have it. The reasons why I’m sort-of thankful for bipolar disorder. Here’s your challenge for the day: take that thing that’s making your life difficult (you know – that one thing – we all have them), and find a way to be thankful. If you can’t be thankful, find a way to be sort-of thankful. Today of all days is a good day to give it a try. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

thankful brain

Now my kitchen smells like smoke, which means I probably forgot about something cooking – eeeep!

Worth it. 🙂

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I Didn’t Technically Lie to the Pastor’s Wife

Here’s the thing: I might be a little depressed. A little.

BUT I’M MOSTLY FINE.

I hate admitting I’m depressed, because then everyone freaks out and goes on high alert and treats me like some infant invalid. But I think I might be a little depressed. I finally admitted it to myself a few days ago when my husband suggested we rake leaves together. He definitely didn’t need the help raking leaves…he just knew he wasn’t going to get me to go for a walk, and he said some fresh air would be good for me.

Then I said, “Ugh. I don’t want to rake leaves. There are so many STEPS to raking leaves!”

“Steps?” He gave a confused glance to my FitBit.

I sighed. “Not those kind of steps. Think about it. In order to rake leaves, I would have to…step 1: get out of bed. Step 2: walk over to my closet and pick a sweater, because it’s cold. Step 3: Find some gloves. Who on earth knows where I might find gloves? Step 4: Walk downstairs. Step 5: Put on shoes. Step 6: Go outside and actually do raking of said leaves. There are so many steps.”

He smiled a strained smile and said, “Okay, yes, that’s a lot of steps. But I’ll be there with you for all of them! So….step one. How about you get out of bed?”

So I did. And I did all of the steps. And we raked leaves. But it shouldn’t have felt as monumental as our (ginormous) pile of leaves to be able to do those things.

I was supposed to lead a Bible study on Saturday, but I texted the pastor’s wife and asked if she could cover me because I “haven’t been feeling well.” WHICH WAS TOTALLY TRUE. Except I wasn’t puking or anything, so I felt really shady about bailing. I told my husband as much, and he said, “Aren’t we always saying that people need to regard mental illnesses as real illnesses? Then you need to regard it as a real illness too. If you’re not feeling well mentally, you’re not feeling well. It wasn’t lying.”

So I think it wasn’t lying.

(?)

But then I realized maybe I haven’t been doing so well, because one of the ladies in the church group was a little concerned about me. I didn’t show up to church last week, or our committee meeting on Tuesday, and then I bailed on the Bible study. She asked if I was okay.

Sure. Of course. I’m fine. Even though I missed all of those because I was in bed…

As I said, I think I might be a little depressed.

My focus is super off… I’m still showing up to work, but I’m making DUMB mistakes like forgetting about quizzes or completely blanking on things I should know. The other day I was reading answers to something and I read the answers to numbers 16…17…18… and then started back at 13. My students were all confused and asked why I just skipped back five problems. Oh, did I? I had no idea.

Arrrrghh!

So…..what do I do now? Wait for this to be over? It’s been about two weeks. It’s a lot of crying and sleeping. If I call my doctor she’ll make me take more or different meds. I HATE MEDS. And this will probably go away soon. As a matter of fact, I feel better today. Maybe I won’t take a nap when I get home.

MAYBE I’M MAGICALLY FINE NOW AND I WASN’T DEPRESSED AT ALL.

People who have been here before – holla at me. What do I do?

cat help