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5 Things I've Accepted About Myself on the Road to Self-Love With Bipolar Disorder

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I would love to love myself like those girls with bright, white teeth on the cover of self-help books that give you a formula for self-love in five easy steps, but I’m finding it a tad challenging. Loving and appreciating myself feels impossible but so did making it to 40 years old with bipolar disorder so I guess it’s worth a try.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

There are so many reasons that I don’t feel worthy of my own love but mostly it’s 25 years of the bipolar monster spewing its hateful words and me drowning as I gulp them down. It hijacks my mind and colors the way I see myself and the world around me, and it’s time to take some of that power back. There is a softer, quieter voice underneath that has been patiently waiting for me to shut up long enough to hear it.

I’m not quite ready to love myself, but I figure if I can start to like myself, that’s a step in the right direction. I’ve come up with a list of five things I’m starting to accept about myself. I feel like an imposter and a liar but if I don’t commit myself to this loving journey then I’m not going to live the life I want. And for me, nothing is more dire. I’ve fought so hard to stay alive and I cannot have that fight mean nothing.

So, here’s my acceptance list:

… hmmm…

OK, I’ve got this.

1. I’m coming to accept that my love will always feel like all or nothing.

This often corresponds with my depression and hypomania. One minute I want to run and live by myself in the woods with a bunch of cats. and the next my husband feels like the only home I’ll ever want. It’s beyond challenging not to pack up my purple leggings and electric toothbrush when I start obsessing about whether he’ll leave because I’m so broken. I’m scared he’ll figure out he can do better and go find that better.

2. I’ll always need help when my brain stops working.

I get stuck in the bathtub — well, not literally — and need someone to come in and help me figure out my next steps. I can’t wrangle my thoughts enough to piece together how to get from “wet in bathtub” to “dry in bed” with pajamas on. This may seem ridiculous but when my mind shuts down, it doesn’t leave any cookie crumbs back to knowing how to dress myself.

3. I can’t support myself financially.

This may change in the future when I sell my next book for sweet, sweet “cabin on the lake money,” but right now I can barely work. Working part-time sent me to the psyche ward so staying stable is now my full-time job. I’m trying to see, though, what value I bring to my household without money. It’s still a work-in-progress.

4. I will always have hanging boobs and stretch marks on my, well, everything.

I was super skinny when I was young but food became my way of coping with bipolar, so I have ballooned. As I get older, though, my concern becomes more about health and not how I look in a bathing suit.

5. I won’t get back all those years I hated myself.

But I’m starting to create a gentler relationship with myself. I’m not sure if it’ll lead to love but you never really do at the start of a possible love affair.

Do you love or at least like yourself?

Photo by Kristina V on Unsplash

Originally published: June 17, 2021
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