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30 Messages People With Bipolar Disorder Wish They Could Tell Their Younger Selves

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Living with undiagnosed bipolar disorder can be a hard time in a person’s life. You’re experiencing symptoms that don’t have a name yet, and it’s really easy to believe there’s something wrong with you before you know you have an actual mental illness.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

And even then, accepting you have a mental illness is not easy. Even with answers, comes confusion. You might feel hopeless and unsure of what the future holds.

That’s why we teamed up with the International Bipolar Foundation and their “Say It Forward” campaign to ask people to share what they wish they could tell their younger selves about living with bipolar disorder.

Check out their answer below, and join the conversation by using the hashtag #DearTeenageMe.

1. “Dear teenage me: I’m sorry things are tough. I’m sorry you don’t understand quite yet. I’m still trying to understand my thoughts. You can’t run from your problems, and you can’t curse them away by hurting your loved ones. Times are tough, but you’re important, you’re loved and you’re here for a reason.” — Alicia P.

2. “There was never anything wrong with you. All those nights you cried, self-medicated and drank yourself to blackness just to not feel… all it will get you is more darkness. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help, even if every one else makes you feel like you’re making it up. You’re you, and you are a beautiful soul. Your future is much brighter, I promise.” — Sara E.

3. “You will wait too long for help but, it will come — and life will be better than you could ever imagine now. Hold on!” — Helen B.

4. “You will find your illness does not have to be an enemy. You will learn it will give you amazing talents, perspectives and feelings. Don’t fight it.” — Alli M.

5. “Life is a roller coaster. Yours has higher highs and lower lows. Know there’ll be days of sheer hell, but the next day could be beautiful. You just have to remember that for every down there is an up if you can hold on until it gets here.” — Kristin Leigh

6. “Bipolar disorder may be what you’re diagnosed with, but that does not represent who you are! You are so much more than an illness. You will get through this, and be stronger for it. It is not a death sentence.” — Mary G.

7. “Don’t try to beat it on your own. It’s OK to ask for help. Go visit a doctor. Take your meds. Don’t panic. Stop trying to prove you’re normal. It’s all going to be fine. It’s a tremendous gift. Seriously.” — Michal K.

8. “The people you thought were against you will end up being the ones that make you stronger. Don’t give up on them or yourself.” — Soledad K.

9. “This is not your fault. You didn’t choose to have bipolar. Don’t feel scared to truly express what’s going on in your mind. The sooner you can catch your symptoms, the sooner you can do something about it.” — Shawna H.

10. “Dear teenage me: I am proud of you for who you are. You couldn’t ask for help for many reasons, but you survived and there you are. Keep your chin up, sweetheart, even when you are low. You’re not alone.” — Elsa R.

11. “Please don’t grow up thinking you need to ‘fix’ yourself. I want you to know that right now, you are a beautiful, caring person. And through the years that are going to be hard, you will gain more and more empathy for those struggling around you and you will be able to help them. Please remember, you have something important to give the world, just like everyone else.” — Denise H.M. 

12. “Dear teenage me: Have more confidence in yourself and trust your gut instinct. Be patient, things will work out even if you don’t know how, just keep heading in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to try even if you fail. It’s worth it. Don’t be ashamed of being different. Embrace it. Own it.” — Emma T.

13. “Even though there is stigma everywhere you look, don’t be too proud to get the help you need and deserve. Medications aren’t a crime. A therapist isn’t a punishment. Visiting the doctor several times a year doesn’t make you weak. Doing all of this actually makes you strong. Stronger than those who choose to close their eyes. Stronger than those who perpetuate stigma. More importantly, it makes you stronger than you were yesterday and it will have a better path for your future. Don’t be afraid to succeed.” — Chandreyee J.

14. “I know you don’t think you’re are strong. But you have strength beyond anything you could ever imagine! You are going to go through hell many times and you will feel like giving up. Don’t lose hope. It will be hard, but you can make it!” — Sherry W.

15. “Embrace who you are. Embrace the darkness and learn to cope, embrace the light but remember that’s the only time you can be happy or be you. Oh, and find a treatment plan that works for you, and stick with it. Even when you feel like you don’t need it/them.” — Tessa B.

16. “Accept with grace all of your beautiful imperfections — all those unique, quirky little intricacies that make you, you. And, above all else, have the courage to find your own truth.” — Rob F.

17. “Be open to others around you. Don’t be ashamed to talk about your problems, it’s not your fault at times. Remember you are made of stronger stuff than you think. You might slip up, but you can keep fighting a bit longer. You are loved and you matter to more people than you think.” — E.J. Hobbs

18. “Dear teenage me: Do not be embarrassed. You’re strong, you’re smart and your value is immeasurable! Negative comments and opinions are not meant to hurt you, they are only the result of the lack of information on our community… educate yourself, educate others. You’re loved!” — Jennifer M.

19. “Seek help sooner. Don’t be afraid of medication. It does get better. Try to wait out acting on impulses, don’t let your temper get the better of you. Stop apologizing. Think before spending. You don’t have to please anyone and it’s OK to withdraw to give yourself time to heal/realign. You owe no explanations.” — Holly J.

20. “The rage will settle, but not leave. The storm will calm, but not falter when you need it. If you work on yourself first, one day you’ll be able to work the demons you think live inside you to your advantage, and live without so much fear of what you’ll become.” — Maddi A.

21. “This diagnosis is not the end of your dreams. Also, you have bipolar, you are not bipolar…they are two different statements. Don’t let people define you as your diagnosis. It is just a part of you, it is not who you are!” — Anjae H.

22. “There’s not a thing in the world wrong with you. There is no definition of ‘normal.’ You are wonderfully made and the trick is to accept the disorder as a part of you, but don’t allow it to define you. There is no cure, there is only managed and controlled lifelong recovery. You can beat this and after awhile it will submit.” — Kristina M.

23. “When you went to your psychiatrist in 2010 and floated the idea that you think you could have bipolar, and then she dismissed the notion outright — you should have persevered and gotten a second opinion. Don’t give up on your mental health.” — Lara Cathrow

24. “Hold tight, things are going to get worse and this isn’t going to disappear. But you are a warrior and will keep fighting this terrible illness every day. As much as you want to, try not to give up.” — Lexi M.

25. “Even though it’s hard, try not to feel guilty about things you have no control over. When you find yourself feeling this way, ask, ‘Is this my fault? Could I have prevented this?’ If the answer is no, then you have nothing to feel guilty about.” — Lisa C.

26. “Find a good doctor, one you feel comfortable with, and take your meds. You are not your illness. You are stronger than the illness.” — Victoria K.

27. “You’re unique, girl, and it doesn’t matter if people get you or not — be yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Ask for help, sweetie, you are not crazy.” — Heather P.

28. “Taking medication is not giving up. Keep positive, and you’ll learn to cope much easier. It will always be an uphill battle, but some paths are easier than others.” — Alanna-Marie M.

29. “When you’re manic, focus on the real, the scientific, the concrete. When you’re depressed, love people and feed them.” — Drak B.

30. “You have a voice! Keep talking until someone helps.” — Samantha H.

To learn more about the International Bipolar Disorder’s “Say It Forward” campaign, click here.

Originally published: October 7, 2016
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