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6 Hard Lessons From Life With Bipolar Disorder

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Mental illness is not something most people would probably want, but if you already have one, it’s important to learn to embrace it. So we might as well explore the possibilities of mental illness teaching us something. As I learned from my mistakes, I also learned from my mental illnesses.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

1. You’ll lose people along the way.

You’ll lose some people — friends, family and a lot of known faces — over the years. I have lost my school friends, relatives and people who called themselves friends, all of them through the decade of my journey with mental illness. Firstly, because I myself didn’t know I had bipolar disorder when I got depressed. Not everyone around you will understand your depression or your problems.

2. If someone doesn’t understand and wants to leave, then let them go.

This happened to to me with the person who was my best friend in school. Sometimes people won’t understand some of the things you have to do because of your illness. I’m not saying everything I did was 100 percent right, but many things I did because I had no other choice.

3. You will be able to read people better.

Although I think mental illness can be the worst thing that could happen to a person, it also opens up your brain to many possibilities. You learn to understand people better because you’ll see them exactly for who they are. Even though mental illness is invisible, it doesn’t hide itself. The more people you see leaving after learning facts about you, the more you’ll be able to snip them from your life.

4. You will learn who your true friends and family are.

After you have shred all the negativity around you, you will find some people who have stayed with you no matter how your mood swings from depression to mania. People who have accepted you for who you are, with your mental illness. These are the people who will be your friends, your support system. You will get a better perspective, and you will be able to choose your own family. After all, there are families we’re born into, but in the end, it’s the family we choose that sticks with us.

5. You’ll feel less guilty as you get to know yourself better.

As the days and years pass by, you’ll learn more about yourself. I didn’t know my illness  until it was too late. Yet, the feelings of guilt and regret are the same for all of us who have some kind of mental illness. As you know yourself better, you eventually start judging yourself a little less every day, and the feeling is freeing.

6. You will become your own person.

Through the years of crying, begging, expecting and answering to others, I finally understood myself. Instead of being taken for granted, I started appreciating myself. I started doing things for myself instead of expecting from others. People with some kind of mental illness are often perceptive of people because of the experiences we have had. I have personally become my own person by trusting myself and my abilities to survive. It took me a good 12 years to finally accept myself, to start a cause to eradicate stigma attached to mental illness and to finally get the help I needed throughout the years. Now, I have a partner, a brother, a friend and a family who recognize me for who I am. However, this only became possible when I fit in properly in my own skin, acknowledged my mental illness and wore it as a shield so nothing and no one could put me down.

“Never forget what you are, for the surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” – George R.R. Martin

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Originally published: October 5, 2016
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