Why Knowing Wellness Makes Relapses All the More Painful


So much has changed in my life the last three years. I’ve gone from honestly not wanting to live to fighting harder than ever to stay alive and live a good life. For years, all I knew was illness. Sometimes, I look back and see so many episodes of depression and hypomania I should have been hospitalized for but wasn’t. I can’t remember a time when I was completely well.

Yet, three years ago, I realized getting well was life or death, and I was on the edge. Three days in bed left me a choice to make between the bed and the bathroom where I would find a way to die. Instead, I reached out to a suicide hotline that gave me hope to hold on. From there, I found a support group in the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance and started to recover.

Recovery isn’t easy though. There’s a new dynamic of my illness I didn’t realize before I started to recover. I finally knew what wellness felt like, which made the relapses all the more painful. In some weird way, it was better to be ignorant. I didn’t know any better then, and the mood changes were just more of the same.

Today, I reach for stability and a wellness, and I lose my grip often. It’s just the nature of the disease. I tell myself I can deal with this gracefully and get through the hard times without the panic that comes from saying, “Here we go again.” Yet, most of the time I can’t seem to accomplish that. Each time is harder because I remember wellness is a possibility I am falling short of.

It’s a delicate time. A time where resilience is so important. There’s this image of me in my mind. One that looks prepared and skilled in the face of episodes. One that heads off depression and hypomania at the pass. Who knows just what to do. Someday, I hope to be that person.

In one way, I’m wishing I won’t feel the pain if I become this person. Yet, life will still be painful. Depression and hypomania will still disrupt my life. It’s so hard to accept, but somehow I have to find a way.

People with mental illness are the most resilient people I know. We face setback after setback in our lives and continue to strive for a better life. We accept our lives will never be perfect, but look for hope in making them a little easier. We are faced with a terrible disease, one that between the stigma and the symptoms, seems insurmountable sometimes. Yet, we find each other and help each other through.

The seemingly endless cycle is hard. Really hard. Yet, our resilience is endless too. One good thing that has come from my diagnosis and all the hardships I’ve had is that inside of me, if I look deep enough, there is someone who will hold on. There is someone with the strength to get through anything. Someone with a stubborn desire to be that person I imagine, living with this disease with grace and skill. I know I will never give up on her.

Sometimes, I wonder if I’m already her.

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Image via Thinkstock.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Bipolar Disorder

two girls looking at new york city skyline

4 Tips for Seeking Support With Bipolar Disorder

I spent many years dealing with bipolar disorder alone. Partly because people didn’t know how to help me, and partly because I didn’t want to be helped. I didn’t want to share the truth with anyone. With what I felt were all my “ugly” symptoms, I believed it was better to stay hidden. So when [...]
headphones leaned against a stack of albums

13 Songs That Make Life With Bipolar Disorder a Little Less Scary

I live with bipolar disorder, which means my life is all over the place. However, one of the great places of refuge I have is music. When my anxiety rises, I turn to music. When I start to feel manic, I turn to music. When I’m depressed, I immerse myself in music. Not only do [...]
poker chips falling onto a poker table

What It's Like Being a Professional Poker Player With Bipolar Disorder

Having bipolar disorder presents a myriad of challenges for anyone, regardless of their career path. There is no line of work in which stressful situations are entirely avoidable. Sometimes, you have to try to “look normal” (whatever that means) on days when it feels like the ground is falling out from underneath your feet. However, [...]
drawing of a woman on a crumpled piece of paper

The Slow Creep of Mania and Depression

My husband pointed out to me last night that my mood right now is the worst it’s been in a while, and he was concerned. I was shocked. I didn’t notice it had gotten that bad. Also, yesterday, my doctor asked me if I would go to the hospital. This shocked me, too. I said [...]