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