The last four years have been a whirlwind of cold hospital corridors, endless empty days and relentless, loving support from those around me – loved ones, professionals and sometimes even strangers. I realised through talking: talking about experiencing bipolar has lifted me from the moments of absolute darkness. It has helped me to accept the weight of the diagnosis, allowed me to mentally move on from the past and taught me that there’s still a lot to look forward to in my future.
My self-destructive behaviour changed by talking about what I had gone through
For too long, I focused on the past, painfully over-analysing how I could have acted differently and cringing at my late teenage behaviours. I was neither kind to nor understanding about my younger self. This self-destructive behaviour changed by talking about what I had gone through, however painful it was at the time to address deep-rooted issues and niggling insecurities.
At first I felt so ashamed and dismissed it as a waste of my time, but something in me urged myself to persevere. I often like to compare it to organising my bedroom. For a while, the unravelling of dusty old things makes the space frustratingly seem even more cluttered and overwhelming, but once I sort it all through and patiently place it all back effectively, I feel so refreshed and surprisingly calmer. To apply this concept to my condition: the re-ordering of old forgotten-about emotional baggage that had stubbornly gathered in the depths of my mind has slowly been addressed through verbalising it.
I’ve often found that the person I’m talking to opens up in return
Whether it’s with a trained professional or an old and understanding friend, the cathartic feeling I get when I speak about my condition encourages me to keep going continue on that path. I strongly believe that people with mental health problems should not feel ashamed to talk about it. It is a bold step to discuss such a personal subject, but I’ve often found that the person I’m talking to opens up in return. Everyone on this earth has their own daily battle so it’s eye-opening and extremely enriching to talk and help each other.
I focus my energy on those who try to understand what I’m going through
Sometimes my story has fallen on deaf ears, but I try to not allow it to dishearten me. I put it down more to naivety about Bipolar and try to see the funny side when people ask me if I am really, really, uncontrollably moody all of the time. The famous quote, ‘be who you are and say what you feel, those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind’ (Bernard Baruch) comforts me during such times. My Dad often reminds me of the proverb: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time” (John Lydgate). Therefore I am going to be misunderstood and even rejected at times, but aren’t we all?! Instead, I focus my energy on those who do listen to me and try to understand what I’m going through.
Talking about my experience and mentally moving on has also allowed me to focus on the present
Talking about my experience and mentally moving on has also allowed me to focus on the present. Thinking about the here and now forces me to appreciate the mundanely beautiful moments in everyday life: freshly-cut grass and sun-kissed skin, the first nostalgic chords of the soundtrack to my teenage years or the crunch of autumnal leaves, I engage my senses whenever possible and try to ground myself in the present. Now, I talk about these things, but never forget that discussing the past so willingly has helped me to enjoy this new found luxury today.
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