In a lot of cases depression can be cured, and I mean cured, marked done, filed away for good. Depression isn’t always chronic, sometimes it’s short lived. That’s pretty magical, but bipolar disorder is nothing like that.
It’s a disorder, a disease of the mind, if you will. It can be treated, but it can’t be cured. It is everlasting.
I don’t find that as scary as I once did.
At first it’s a terrifying thought. I have to live with these swings forever. There will never be a time when I’m not taking medication. This is something that will affect my life till I die.
Oh yeah, it sounds terrible when you focus on those aspects. It sounds a lot less frightening however when you talk about the different stages of living with a mental illness like bipolar disorder.
You start to realize that you will get better even if you are not cured. You’ll find your perfect cocktail of medications that keep you balanced and you’ll only have to go to the doctor every year or so. The upcoming days won’t be met with vicious swings, but little ones that warn you that you need to change something. You’ll learn what helps you outside of medication and you won’t rely on it as heavily as you did. You’ll move on with your life and bipolar will become a side note when you define yourself, because the characteristics will no longer define you.
Bipolar is a disorder. It’s a disease of the mind. But it doesn’t have to be terminal and you’ll get to the point where you don’t have to think of it other than when you’re taking your medications or having a conversation that relates to it.
It’s an illness that starts off as a terrible power struggle that always has you feeling like you are losing, but you can come up on top. You can beat it into submission. It takes a lot of work to get to that stage, but that stage isn’t unreachable. It isn’t even far fetched.
I once talked to a doctor who said that if he had to pick a mental illness he’d pick bipolar, because if you took your medications and you found the right habits you’d feel like you didn’t have a mental illness over 90% of the time.
I got diagnosed when I was six, which is very rare, but over the years I’ve learned a lot of these lessons first hand. I feel like I have the knowledge of a 50 year old who got diagnosed in his late teens or early twenties (the typical age). I’m empowered by that. I know what the next stage is like. It’s not bad! It’s not painful! It’s not scary! And you can reach it too. So put in the hard work, go through the wringer with this disorder, but come out clean. You’ll reach the end of this rough stage and move on to a better one.