I wrote a post a long while ago about how it’s okay for people to call mental illness a gift. It’s one of my favorite posts. I can’t decide if it’s the bipolar jokes or the fact that it’s about Van Gogh, but regardless, it still stands. It’s is okay for people to call their mental illness a gift the same way it’s okay for them to call it a curse. Both can be true.
I spend a lot of time writing about ways to function with mental illness and to overcome some of it’s trickier parts, but I wanted to make a post about the good things my mental illness has given me. So here’s a list of positives that have come from my bipolar disorder:
- Creativity: Bipolar and creativity have long been linked. For most the creative streaks come during the manic phases, for me it seems like my creativity hardly sleeps. I’ve been creative for as long as I can remember, which is fitting because I got diagnosed at age six. Over half of my hobbies are creative ones and I fully thrive in the environment they create. I love my hobbies and I love this skill set. There is nothing I would trade for it.
- Healthy coping mechanisms: A lot of people have unhealthy coping mechanisms, in fact, I don’t feel like it would be a stretch to say that most people do. It’s hard to function with a mental illness without learning coping mechanisms, and unhealthy ones just don’t make the cut, they end up making us feel worse. So to function, I’ve learned healthy coping mechanisms, ones that work and can aid my medication to the point where I can handle most everything thrown at me. It took a lot of work to get them, but I’m so happy I have them and am able to fall back on them whenever I need them, whether those needs are triggered by bipolar disorder or just everyday life.
- Raw honesty: In accepting my mental illness I’ve become more vocal about it. I told people I’m bipolar on the first date, I did it casually, because my illness feels casual at this point. Since I’ve gotten it under control it no longer feels like a big deal to tell people, and I like the honesty that comes with it. I’m an open book, and since I’m an open book to others they are to me. When you talk about mental health freely people feel like they can talk freely about their mental health with you. And I love it! I love being able to support others in this journey and talk about these things in a way that makes them feel like their not alone.
- Multi-tasking: Part of mania is having a million different trains of thought at one time. Once we got my medication right it wasn’t quite that wild, but I still have the ability to juggle multiple things at a time. I don’t think I would be able to do this so successfully if it wasn’t for that bit of mania always running through me.
- Sensitivity: I talked about being an open book and about people in return being honest with me about their mental health, but having been through everything I have with bipolar makes me sensitive to mood changes in others. Sometimes I feel like I can sense depression on someone when most people can’t. It’s because I’ve been there, and that sensitivity is amazing, because it can let you know who needs some extra love and support.
- Strength: Having been through some really rough things helps you realize that you can survive a lot more than you think. Terrible things happen to good people all the time and learning that you can overcome them is half of the battle. Bipolar disorder has made me stronger than I could ever imagine. It’s put me through hell only to offer me heaven. It’s a remarkable disorder and it’s hard, but it my torn muscles have turned into scar tissue. I’m stronger than before and I’m ready to take on the world.