Depression makes me feel limited and, at times, hopeless. But I have not come this far to be limited. I have not survived the countless previous bipolar storms to let this one have the final say. I will not let bipolar define me.
During depression, it is hard not to see my life as one gigantic, bipolar tornado. My perspective of the world narrows and darkens, and hopelessness finds it’s way back into my life. I have been in a depression, and thoughts like this overwhelm me. I recognize my perspective is limited, but it seems so real and permanent. I have been weighed down with the heaviness of depression, where every breath currently seems like a struggle. Every component of daily life feels like a tremendous amount of effort is required. Things that seemed so easy just weeks ago now are a chore. Basic daily tasks exhaust me. My patience is thin and my anger close to the surface. Anger then tears. All so very close to the surface. It is easy to forget what depression-free living feels like, even though it was just a short time ago. I feel so often defined by bipolar disorder. I feel limited and at times hopeless.
But I have not come this far to be limited. I have not survived
the countless previous bipolar storms to let this one have the final say. I
will not let bipolar define me.
It is easy for me to get caught up in the illness. The symptoms. The disability and career instability. Most people ask questions like, what do you do for a living? Are you married? Do you have kids? Maybe that is why it is hard to be around people right now. My answers are that I have been battling with bipolar since I was 18 years old. I am not in the career I earned my degree in because of my disability caused by bipolar. I feel like all I have been doing is sitting in wait for my next episode to occur. I have been letting bipolar define me. But I need this to change.
I am a human being as wonderful and complicated and beautiful as that is. Bipolar disorder has definitely made my life more difficult to say the least, but I am not just a disorder. My worth is not dependent on my job, my salary, my symptoms, my illness. In times of darkness and depression, it is hard not to see it like this. But I have glimpses. Glimpses of hope like I have written about before. I hear my nephew call me auntie and I realize I am just that. An auntie, a sister, a child, a friend, a caregiver, a person of worth and value.
Suicidal thoughts try to tear away at these ideas and turn
things into black and white. Bipolar tells me I am my symptoms and my life is
not worthwhile. During depression, it is hard not to listen to or believe these
things. It is hard to look at my life from a brighter perspective. But I have
learned that there are many perspectives. I just have to wait for
the muddy waters to clear. I have to hold on, endure the storm. So I
am holding. I am waiting. For I know there will be an end to this depression. I
will once again find relief and my view of my life will brighten. The hard part
is in the waiting. The enduring.
But I know things will change. They always do. Things change for
the better, then worse, then better again. I am holding on for the ride. I have
learned this is not just because of bipolar, but because I am human. It is a
shared human experience. We all have our ups and downs, some higher and some
lower, but things change. Things always change. So I am confident that this
depression will lift. The heaviness and burden I feel will ease. Hopelessness
will lessen its grip and I will feel comforted again. Until then, I
continue to find my glimpses of hope and rely upon my experience to know relief
will come. I may have bipolar disorder, but I refuse to let it define me.
Laura Fisher attended The University of Montana where she received her B.A. in Biology in 2004 and Doctorate of Physical Therapy in 2007. She lived and worked in Seattle for six years as a physical therapist in a variety of treatment settings. She recently moved back to her hometown of Billings, Montana and lives with her two dogs and family nearby. Laura has lived with Bipolar 1 Disorder for 18 years. She enjoys her work in physical therapy, private caregiving, and dog sitting. Laura is the Volunteer Coordinator and Leadership Team member for the Rainbow Coffee House, a safe space for high-school aged LGBT high students to gather, drink coffee, and connect with community. Laura hopes to share her own experience with bipolar disorder to provide hope for those struggling with this illness.
Bipolar is rough on us, our families, our friends, and even the world itself. So, when bipolar tries to control you like a puppet, here’s how you can handle the pain and confusion. This isn’t a post on how not to feel sorry for yourself. If any of us in this world have a right...
I have changed. My management ability has changed. I am alive and often have great happiness in my life. It’s a fight for me. A fight I will win. “Well, that’s just how it is.” My mind said this to me as I sat down and worked this morning. I’ve not been able to just...
Are you trying to make the decision to disclose? First assess—and address—your own opinion about bipolar disorder. Your feelings about bipolar affect how and when you tell a potential partner. Note from the Author: This blog is about sharing a bipolar diagnosis with a new love. Although I talk about my experiences telling people about...
When you are in the midst of a depressive episode, mania can call to you like a Siren. Its song is alluring, promising you freedom and joy. But chasing the melody of mania is sure to lead to disaster and wreckage. I hate bipolar depression so much, I often think of taking a substance that...