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When Bipolar Disorder Feels Like a Race

Sometimes, I have brilliant moments of clarity – times when I can really see bipolar disorder for what it is, and what it is not.

Today, I see a track of unevenly-spaced hurdles. There is always an up and always a down in front of me. Since I was diagnosed, and maybe even before that, I had always felt like I was racing to the finish against everyone I knew who was my age. They were all getting college degrees and fancy jobs. They pushed their limits and successfully ran their races, while I fell farther behind as I struggled to get over my hurdles.

Today, I realized something…

It isn’t a race.

There will always be times where I jump too high, and there will always be times when I crash over the other side. But, I have to keep moving.

It isn’t a race.

The people I know aren’t fighting the same battle I am. And everyone has different struggles. Bipolar disorder is mine. Ultimately, the only thing that could qualify as a true finish line for any illness is death. And, who wants to race towards that? I came to the realization this morning that I can slow down as I approach my hurdles.

This is especially important because sometimes I feel like I’m running with my eyes closed.

I need so much help to get over these mental obstacles on my track that I often have felt weak. I need help coping, picking up the pieces and trying to remain stable. But, as the years have passed and I’ve watched my fiercely independent friends run into their own life problems, I have noticed the ones who don’t accept help are the ones with failing relationships, broken idolizations and empty forms of happiness.

As I have become more interdependent with my husband, my family and my doctors, I can feel my stability become a stronghold. The once fragile fibers of my life are reinforced by the love and support around me, and this makes me stronger.

It’s a process – a process that will only be complete in death. But, death is no longer the thing I look forward to on days like today.

Today, I look forward to the days that fall in between the “madness.” I desire the nights of calm and quiet. I am blessed that, amidst the chaos, I will find peace. Sometimes I need reminding that each mental hurdle doesn’t last for forever and sometimes I need help with the jumps. But, I always pick myself up and continue, one way or another. In the end, there will always be another hurdle.

But, after each hurdle, there will always be grace.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.