I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder two years ago.
Plenty has changed, several things haven’t. I’ve said hello and goodbye to new and old friends. I’ve moved houses and churches and community groups. I’ve returned to my roots, learned to dwell in the present and chased new dreams.
Two years of living with bipolar — and living in general — has challenged and stretched and molded me into who I want to be, while also anticipating who I will be in the future. Here are 8 lessons I’ve learned in the past two years:
- People change. Based on the time and place, pressures and obligations, people will always change. Sometimes for the better, at times for the worst. Individuals will change within themselves, groups of friends will phase in and out.
- God stays the same. As undependable as humans can be, Christ is that much more stable. Hebrews tells me he stays the same forever and ever. This is my most favorite quality about The Lord.
- I am more than my disorder. People change and God doesn’t, which means I can be strong and I can lean on God, and I am more than my diagnosis. I am more than depression and bipolar and mood swings. This does not define me, but it is a part of my story.
- I can’t do this alone. They say it takes a village, and these words ring true every day it my life. It takes friends and family and coworkers and doctors and counselors and community. It takes more than me, myself and I.
- The world keeps turning. Even when depression or bipolar gets me down, the world moves on. This can be encouraging and discouraging, but such is life.
- I’m still human. Similar to #3, my humanity keeps my sanity. I’m a person before I’m bipolar. I have thoughts, feelings, dreams, desires, all longing to be fulfilled.
- Bipolar isn’t pretty. It’s freaking tough and painful and a constant thorn in my flesh. But the ugliness of bipolar only brings out the strength and beauty in my tenacious soul.
- Resilience is a choice. When I feel down, I can cave into the lethargy and apathy. Or I can follow through with plans, see people and do my best to bounce back.
Struggling with a mental illness is hard.
To be more specific, it is the downright hardest battle I’ve ever fought, and hopefully ever will. It’s an everyday choice to find joy even when depressed, to be strong even when I feel weak.
I hope that by sharing my struggle with bipolar, depression and anxiety, my friends, family and readers will feel more confident to share their own stories. It’s OK to not be OK. No man is an island.
We are brave. We are strong. We can thrive.