The Stories About Bipolar Disorder the Media Is Missing
Being a bipolar “success story” is without a doubt an incredible feeling, but it can also be surprisingly isolating. Having years of stability under my belt, as well as being an advocate, means I don’t feel the need to talk about my struggles as much anymore. Not because I don’t have them, but because I feel I’ve talked about them enough. I’ve talked about how dreary my illness is, and I’ve said all I need to say. Now, I want to talk about what I can do in spite of it.
Many people in the bipolar community are super skilled at putting our struggles into words. It amazes me how well people are able to spread awareness about the difficulties that come with our illness. And, as a disclaimer, I totally get wanting to talk about that, because let me tell you, we have a lot of struggles neurotypical people don’t experience. But at the same time, I want to hear about people like me. I want to hear about successes. I want to hear about how, yes, we struggle, but look at what we can do, even with these debilitating symptoms.
Right now, I work full-time, go to school full-time and have a few side gigs to make extra money. I’m 25 and live on my own, I’m engaged and am reaching milestones I wouldn’t have thought possible four years ago. Considering how debilitating my illness used to be, I really have created what I consider a success story for myself.
And I like to talk about that. I write stories for The Mighty about my recovery journey all the time. But I also want to hear about others’ successes. I want to know I’m not alone, and I want to hear more stories about what people with bipolar can achieve despite their symptoms in the media.
Long story short, I want to hear about the success stories out there, not just stories about how dreary my symptoms can be. Because I already know my symptoms suck. When I’m symptomatic, it really, really sucks, I get that. But I want to keep hearing about what I can do despite it.
I have bipolar, and I want to read stories about how far people like me have come.
I want to read stories about how hard it is for people like me to take their medication, but how they do it religiously every day because they know it makes them feel better. I want to hear about how after the trillionth time going off their antipsychotic, someone accepted they needed it to live a life worth living, and how they’re now thriving despite the side effects and inconvenience of needing medication every day.
I want to read stories about having bipolar while being employed. I want to hear more about how navigating a serious mental illness is so exhausting that some days people with my diagnosis can’t even manage to shower after the workday, but we still love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. Because at one point in our lives, we couldn’t hold down a job no matter how hard we tried.
I want to read story after story after story about how someone in my shoes was at rock bottom, but managed to pick themselves up and turn their life around. I want to hear about how they found their passion or the love of their life. I want to hear about their healthy, successful relationships and I want to see how they’ve come so far that the life they used to live seems like it happened to a different person.
Because those are the stories that are about me. Those are the stories I relate to. I know I struggle, I know I can be symptomatic and I know this illness can take everything out of me. I feel most other people in society know it, too. But they don’t know people like me. They don’t know the people who walk amongst them and are walking success stories. They don’t know people like me.
But I’m here, and I know I’m not alone. I just wish I could hear that out loud more.
Unsplash image by Brooke Cagle