Having Bipolar Disorder Taught Me I Don't Have to Be 'Perfect' on the Inside

For as long as I can remember I’ve been striving for perfection on the inside, instead of the outside. It seems counterintuitive to say this because most of the time we’re taught that perfection comes from outward appearances.

When I was younger this rang true, but now it seems all I want is to feel perfect on the inside. My diagnosis of bipolar disorder in 2007 was a relief. I finally had a name for what was going on inside my head, but felt like something inside of me was “broken.” I have spent the last decade trying to outrun my diagnosis, through embracing it at times and outright denying in others. All because I want so desperately to feel the unattainable, “perfect normalcy” on the inside.

I imagine if you’re on the outside and looking in on my life you’d think I was, for the most part, “normal” and maybe even close to “perfect.” The beauty of social media is you are able to craft an image for the world to take in. Don’t get me wrong, I write about my struggles. I’ve written about my depression and surviving suicide so people also catch a glimpse of the reality of my life. I wonder though if sometimes I’m trying to fool myself.

In my quest for feeling perfect on the inside, am I denying myself the ability to feel?

I work hard at a job I am good at. I work hard to maintain good grades at ASU. I work hard to be the best wife, mom and friend I can be. I work so hard to be perfect on the inside so I’m perfect in all these roles.

But the truth is, I’m exhausted.

I’m finding ways to be OK with sometimes not feeling OK. I’m finding ways to be still enough to recognize when my brain is going a bit haywire and my emotions are running high. I’m finding ways to look in the mirror every day and say, “you are perfectly imperfect and you don’t have to hide.”

I’m good with having bipolar disorder. It sometimes allows me to be more creative in a lot of ways. I’m good with listening to my body. That’s part of the stillness, it forces me to pay attention. I’m learning how to be enough for myself and sometimes that means not being enough for anyone else. I’m learning how to be good with not having to be perfect on the inside.

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

Thinkstock photo via Ralwel.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Bipolar Disorder

digital painting portrait of beautiful girl, oil on canvas texture

To the Couple Who Asked Me if There Was a 'Test' for Bipolar Disorder

You wanted to know information about your son’s bipolar disorder. At first you asked specific questions about the illness and I did my best to answer them. You told me about your son and I was impressed with his accomplishments and sorry to hear he was struggling. One of your questions stuck with me. Is [...]
A woman with flowers surrounding her

When Springtime Spells Disaster for Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Ah, spring is just around the corner. It’s so close I can feel it! But for me, that feeling of springtime can often lead to the most difficult phase of bipolar — the dreaded mixed state. Don’t get me wrong or view me as ungrateful… theoretically I love the blooming flowers, buds on the trees, [...]
young woman sitting by a window looking sad

My Worries About Having a Baby as a Woman With Bipolar Disorder

Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication. I’m terrified. No. Make that petrified. How do you hold two entirely separate things, one in each hand, and weigh the importance of one over the other? How do you wrap your head around the possibility that you might not even be able [...]
Player record and vinyl vintage

Finding My Own 'Bipolar Beats' When Society Keeps Playing the Same Old Music

The rhythm dances in my ears and the sun blinds me as it radiates huge beams of happiness down onto the world. There is a spring in my step and I can feel the softest breeze on my skin, like silk as it pulls across the body. A chemically charged ball of fire is pulsing [...]