After a Diagnosis, How to Move Past Helplessness Into Greener Pastures
As cliche as it may sound, when a recent bipolar diagnosis makes you feel helpless, let optimism help you find hope on the path towards greener pastures.
I’m sure the thought has gone through your head at least once: “Why me?”
“Why was I burdened with this daunting disorder that I will have to live with for the rest of my life?”
This was the outlook I had when I was first diagnosed. I didn’t understand why such a “terrible” thing had happened to me. Why, out of everything, does it have to be my brain that isn’t functioning like “normal?” I remember being so frustrated, not being able to get past this simple fact. But, slowly, my thinking began to shift.
“Maybe there was a reason this happened to me.” I began to think.
As time passed, I began realizing there was more “good” in my disorder than there was “bad.” These are the reasons why…
The first realization I had was after I had decided to tell people about my disorder.
“They aren’t going to accept me as their friend,” I thought. “I don’t want people to think I’m crazy.”
The funny part was, after I told my friends, they were actually relieved! They HAD thought I was crazy the past few years, but now there was an explanation!
“This totally explains how you’ve acted over the past few years, Kea.” One of my friends told me. “I’m so happy that you told us, because now we can go back to being friends again!”
All of the relationships that I had burned seemed to flow back into my life. The people who had exited my life because of how I had treated them all started to enter back in, and it was such a liberating feeling. By the end of the year of my diagnosis, I had built back a strong confidence, and it was the first step in learning that my disorder was a “positive” to my life.
The next realization was how my disorder taught me empathy. Before my diagnosis, my life was near perfect. My family was amazing, I was athletic and doing well in sports and school, and I had a lot of friends. Never did I think about the hardships that people were going through. To me, I didn’t understand what a hardship really was. I would hear about someone who was struggling, but I wouldn’t understand the difficulty of their situation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I can fully understand everyone’s struggles. But what I do know is how to be empathetic, and how to be there for my friends and family when they need support. I feel like I’ve gotten to have so many heart-felt conversations with a variety of people, and I think I grow more with each and every conversation. To me, being a support system to the people I love and the people who are in need of help is something that I hold near and dear to my heart.
Even though I say that having this disorder has made me a better person, that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t put me through “the ropes” a number of times. It has definitely made me question, yet again, “why me?” There comes a time when you feel so helpless, so alone in your own mind. The people around you can try and support you as much as possible, but in reality, they have never gone through what you’re going through in that moment. Although I have never tried taking my life, I can see why someone might.
When I reach this helpless feeling, I try to adjust my thinking. As cliché as it may sound, I try and think of everything that is positive in my life. I think about all the people who would do anything for me, and who love me unconditionally (even at my craziest!). Those thoughts are what pulls me through the rough times that I am experiencing.
So what does all of this amount to? Well, simply said, I believe everything DOES happen for a reason. I like thinking of bipolar disorder as a mountain, the peak being mania, the valley being depression, and the middle being a nice, grassy meadow. When I’m down in the valley, I keep on trying to climb back up to grassy meadow. This means I have to push myself to get out of my turtle shell that depression has created around me and hike step by step up the mountain. When I reach the grassy meadow, it is such a calming feeling knowing that I am back to even ground. In opposition, if I’m teetering on the top of the mountain, I have to be good about taking my medication, not over-stimulating my brain, and having a strong support system to take care of me. Slowly, I get to descend down the mountain, finding the grassy meadow yet again. Readers, strive to find your grassy meadow. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take determination. But in the end, you will put the mentality of, “Why me?” behind you and realize that your disorder happened for a reason. It’s made you the strongest “you” possible. And when you reach that grassy meadow, sit down and smell the flowers