The Truth About Living Openly With a Mental Illness
I will never regret my decision to write openly about living with bipolar disorder. Never. There is something to be said for reaching a point in your life when you take an important leap. One you can tell your kids about someday. When it hurt too much to keep it bottled up inside, I realized that was the moment I wanted to let people know I’m not perfect, but I still love my life just the way it is, mental illness and all.
I love the moments right before I fall asleep. My mind replays my day’s highlights, as if to ingrain the smile or giggle or kiss in a corner of my brain, so that I won’t ever forget it. Tucked away safe so that I can unwrap it again when I need that memory.
Lying still, listening to the steady rhythm of the one I love beside me, I think about the day that awaits me when the sun rises. I soak up all the sleep I can because chances are, I was up too late writing the night before. I no longer set an alarm; the sweet voices of my kids will wake me when the sunlight pours into their rooms.
The truth is, even though I will never regret my decision to tell the world about the chemical imbalance in my brain, I still wonder if I chose the right time in my life to open my heart.
Living openly with a mental illness means you’ll always wonder if the world is judging you. You’ll wonder if you will ever be looked over for a job you applied to or a promotion you earned because of the fact the employer knows you have bipolar disorder. You might wonder if you will ever work a regular job again now that you’ve written about the darkest and also the most manic times of your life.
These are the things I’ve been worrying about lately.
The truth about living openly with bipolar disorder is that even though I know my husband loves me with his entire heart, someday he might not because my illness might get in the way one time too many. My entire world would come crumbling down around me.
And if my world did come crashing down, if I was left to manage on my own, how would I do that? Again, the future employment picture bubbles to the surface. How would I support myself financially when my loving husband has been the main provider for the last six years? And would my symptoms suddenly break through the surface again, like a volcano that has been dormant but now is ready to explode?
These are the big, scary thoughts that sometimes make me wonder if I did the right thing.
Because the truth about living openly with bipolar disorder is that once you’re diagnosed, it’s yours to live with for the rest of your life. It’s yours to manage, to curse, to medicate, to appreciate. There is no erasing a mental health condition. Therein lies both the beauty and the beast.
The truth about living openly with bipolar disorder is that it’s shown me how far I’ve come as a person. How I’m no longer afraid of showing my true colors. I love my brain and all the creativity it has allowed me to express. Even though it may break down from time to time, I love this piece of me that has shown me what I’m capable of. And that is overcoming my fears and insecurities.
For this I say, I’m glad I’ve decided to be open about the fact that I have bipolar disorder.
No looking back. There’s only the beautiful mystery of what lies ahead.
This post originally appeared on Bipolar Mom Life.
The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Can you tell us about the moment that made you realize it was time to face your mental illness? What was your next step? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.
Want to end the stigma around mental illness? Like us on Facebook.
And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.