Bipolar disorder (BPD), is a big part of my life, whether I like it or not (…Not!). However I have to give it credit for being a catalyst for so much good and positive change in my life. That’s right! When it all boils down, I am grateful for the disorder for helping me to grow toward becoming a more positive, healthy, empathetic, and gratuitous person.
I still have a journey ahead of me, of course, but I am happy with how far I have come. When I look back at the road less traveled (or maybe I should say less acknowledged), I can see the many times that BPD has been a blessing in my life.
The annual report of the state of mental health in America, came out today and while I was pleased to see that substance use disorder has dropped some, it is clear that we have a lot more work to do in bringing awareness to mental illness and suicide prevention. I hope that my posts have had some effect in bringing that awareness to others.
Here are just a few of the reasons that I have found, to see my illness as a blessing. It is worth mentioning there is always the flip side of the coin but in this post I want to stick to the positives.
- GET Stuff Done! While I had severe bouts with depression when my kids were little (I had four within 7 years!), I credit being able to get A LOT of stuff done to the manic side of BPD. I remember being called the “energizer bunny” because I could accomplish so many projects in a day. It probably wasn’t the healthiest way to get things done. But when my kids were little and required so much time and attention I was able to give them what they needed. And as they got older and all had different schedules and activities, I was able to get them all where they needed to be when they needed to be there, keep a house of order, cook and clean and stay organized. I often look back and wonder how I did it all! Now I know.
- More Empathetic. Not that I wasn’t always a caring person, it’s been in my nature to care for others since I was little. I had a mother that was a great example of this. However, being diagnosed with a mental illness, especially one as serious as the one that I have, has helped me to recognize the loneliness that people with mental illnesses experience. We all feel like no one understands and that no one knows what we are going through. We withdraw and retreat into ourselves because of that. But I want you to know that you are NEVER EVER alone. I see you! And so do a lot of others out there who have struggled with similar disorders. And Jesus Christ KNOWS exactly what you have and will experience, because he descended below it all for you and for me! Jesus will always have your back.
- I Know in Whom I trust. Speaking of Jesus Christ, I would never have come to know my Savior in the way that I now do if it hadn’t been for what I have gone through on my road to better health. One of my favorite scriptures came to me in a time when I was most in need. Jeremiah 29:11 says: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future. Whenever I was down or was having a particularly hard day (which there have plenty of), I looked to that scripture and remembered that my Lord is always aware of me and knows my needs and wants the best outcome for me.
- Live in Gratitude Daily. That probably sounds strange to some people, especially to those who suffer with debilitating illnesses. But I have learned that keeping a daily gratitude journal is one of the best practices that one can do for physical, spiritual and mental well being. Sometimes I may have to dig deep to find the tender mercies of a day. But when I do, I am always filled with a profound sense of gratitude for the life that I have blessed with, illness and all.
- Appreciate the Really Good Days. I’ll be the first one to admit that there are some really, really hard days when dealing with these types of illnesses. There are days when you feel like you can’t go on, that it is all too hard and you can’t survive another day. Even though I am on medication and am in a better spot than I have ever been in, I still have bad days. However, it makes me appreciate, really truly appreciate. Every. Single. Day. That I am alive. That I am here and that I can share and help others who may have similar experiences. My good days are something to be celebrated. And celebrate I do, with every day I live I am grateful for having been blessed with BPD. It has made my life fuller and richer in so many ways.
Have a wonderful day and week!