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Why It's Important to Accept My Limits As a Person With Bipolar Disorder

There’s a relatively common idea in American society that if you work hard enough — if you grit your teeth and face your demons — you can do anything you set your mind to. As a person with bipolar disorder, I take issue with this paradigm.

This might be an unpopular opinion. Many people fully buy into the idea that bipolar disorder (or any other mental illness or physical health issue for that matter) shouldn’t limit someone’s ambitions. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told not to let bipolar stop me, to not let bipolar define what I can and cannot do.

But I argue that it’s healthy to acknowledge our limits as people with bipolar disorder. I have to limit how much stress and responsibility I take on to maintain my stability. I have to limit the time I spend out with friends at night because without proper sleep things get worse. I have to budget additional time for daily exercise and healthy eating. These are limits I need to set for my health.

That’s not to say I can’t strive toward my goals. That’s not to say I should live in fear of my next episode and not take any risks. What it does mean is that I have to set goals and take risks with my health, and thus my limits, in mind.

In the end, I think, this is an empowering idea. Even though others often define our worth by our ability to participate in the dominant hustle culture, that’s not where our worth truly is. Accepting our limits is an act of resistance to the idea that we have to work until we drop to be worth it. By accepting our limits, we make peace with and even befriend our bodies — bodies with whom people with bipolar disorder often have fraught relationships. Accepting our limits is an act of strength, not weakness; of resistance and not complacence. It’s time to acknowledge it as such.

Photo by Inspa Makers on Unsplash