Five years ago, on March 18, 2016, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
This diagnosis came after a very serious manic episode that resulted in a hospitalization. It came after a week of insomnia and scattered thoughts and concerning ramblings.
Every year when March 18 rolls around, I pause and reflect. I stop and think about how my life has changed. Before my diagnosis, I was living in Nashville, a new city that I was growing to call home. Before my diagnosis, I was on the path to work in the nonprofit field. Before my diagnosis, I struggled with pride and ego and thought I had my entire life together.
For the longest time after I was diagnosed, especially during the thick of devastating depression, I could not help but always be aware of my diagnosis. My mood, plans, and friendships changed. My life changed. I could not help but mourn and grieve the life I used to know and fear what was to come.
When I built new friendships, I feared coming out as bipolar and wondering how they would respond. When I started to think about law school, I feared how bipolar would affect my studying. When I considered dating, I feared no one would want to be with someone who struggled so deeply.
But these days, my diagnosis is not at the forefront of my mind.
My mind is much more occupied with other things. When I build new friendships, I want to know how to invest and love that person deeply. When I look back at law school, I am thankful for what it was when it was, and how my mental illness did not affect my studying. When I consider dating someone, I am prayerful about opening up about my illness, and no longer live in fear.
Getting to where I am today–embracing my illness and sharing my journey–did not come easy. It took time and energy and tears and therapy. It took medication and emotional support and prayer. But here I am today, thankful for where I am and how I’m built, thankful for how I got here and eagerly looking forward to where I will be.
My disorder has taught me there is always more to come.
When I was first diagnosed, I feared my life was over: that I would lose all of my friends, that I’d never fall in love, and I would not be able to fully function again.
But that was hardly the case. The first couple of years were tough and excruciating and painful. The first couple of years were filled with devastating depression and hopeless thoughts and extreme anxiety.
But there was more to come. The past couple of years have been lovely and life-giving and liberating. They have been encouraging and beautiful and wonderful.
I never thought I would have a job. I never thought I would be able to handle it. I never thought I would get into law school. I never thought I would mentally be able to manage the workload. I never thought I’d fall in love, make new friends, enjoy living in Dallas.
But I did! And I’m glad!
I’m glad that Jesus Man loves me. I’m glad that he provides a path for me. I’m glad he hasn’t left me despite my changing moods and fickle heart.
I’m glad that law school happened, even though I didn’t finish. I’m glad to work at Summit and cultivate community there. I’m glad to make new friends and keep the old.
Dear Reader & Friend,
Whatever you are going through now, whether you are at the highest of highs or lowest of lows, I hope you know there is always more to come. There is always goodness and hope and joy around the corner.
My mental health journey proves this to be true. If you are well, be glad in it. If you are struggling, know there is hope.
I’m rooting for you!