Though the symptoms may differ, as do specific personal struggles, just knowing we are all in this together can be a source of true strength.
Living with bipolar disorder can require an exhausting amount of time explaining and adjusting and apologizing. Sometimes all it takes to relieve a bit of the pressure is to hear that someone else is going through the same thing.
Sharing our vulnerabilities together and speaking our
truth makes navigating the ever-changing path somehow more relatable and
It doesn’t matter that symptoms vary widely—in pattern, severity,
and frequency—in different people. The struggle to deal with this complex, often
sneaky, and unpredictable brain-based illness is a common denominator, one that
needs to be talked about openly to combat loneliness, isolation, and shame.
Since bp Magazine’s launch, readers have
continued to ask us to write about “people like me”—not only about
the famous or highly functional—but about those of us who are in the trenches. In the stories that follow, we present an
intimate snapshot into the lives, including the setbacks and uphill struggles,
of people who readily share in an effort to help others.
We can be encouraged that there is more awareness, and compassion for our brain and behavior. High-profile influencers are sharing more openly their challenges and breaking down stigma. Celebrity Demi Lovato, who had publicly revealed her relapse from sobriety in her single “Sober” then a month later, was hospitalized, received praise and get-well wishes from supportive fans. The reality is relapse and setbacks are most often part of the process.
“Imagine the hope we can give back to people by creating widespread support and showing the world that it’s possible to get through the darkest times and end up in a place of strength,” the singer told bp Magazine in a previous interview.
The mental health crusade continues to spread and intensify as a
result of national grassroots advocacy efforts. Progress has been made, but
there’s much more to be done. Getting mental health champions elected to
support funding for treatment and services is paramount. Progressing from
“stigma” campaigns to promoting our commonality—that mental health conditions
are an epidemic and affect nearly every one of us—is crucial to this civil and
human rights movement.
Yet there still is a boots-on-the-ground,
day-in-and-day-out effort to maintain stability when living with bipolar. There
are highs that morph into lows, negative consequences to inappropriate
decisions, strained relationships. Searching for support and strength—sometimes
finding it, sometimes not.
In the personal stories that follow, you’ll read about
the difficulties of holding down a steady job, being a consistent partner and parent,
learning to be truly independent.
The four people profiled here are hopeful that their
personal struggles will resonate with others and underscore the poignant
reality that no one with bipolar is alone. That inspiration exists even when
symptoms are in full force. That stability is possible.
In the morning I spend about an hour sitting in silence and doing some breathing techniques. It took years of practice to do it for that length of time, but I’ve mastered it. It was part of my therapy, to meditate, to try to be quiet. I used to say, “What does being quiet look like?” Now I know, and I can’t start my day without it. [end of excerpt]
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The decision to disclose your diagnosis of bipolar disorder is very difficult. Here is everything you need to know before you go public. Coming out is hard to do, but it may be the best thing for you. I stayed “closeted” about my mental health condition for over ten years, but my bipolar and the...