For years I used to feel the really strong need to assure people that I was OK and SANE enough to be a part of ‘life’.
I lived in fear of people knowing I had a mental illness as I feared the stigma attached. Since then I’ve learnt how to stop worrying about what others think of my illness.
I was putting myself down. Assuming others would think I was incapable of normal everyday things and it spilt over into many areas of my life. I desperately wanted to make new friendships but stopped even trying because I truly didn’t think anyone would want to be friends with someone who had bipolar.
A large part of the psychotherapy that I did, addressed my issues around relationships, my neediness, and how I tried to recharge from others and not myself.
We all recharge or ‘fill up’ from certain things. An extrovert will feel completely filled up after going to a party and interacting with people. An introvert will feel filled up after doing something quiet and alone.
I learnt how to fill myself up, and this has been one of the BEST skills I could ever have learnt. It took the pressure off those closest to me, as I looked to them for my refill, and if I didn’t feel it, then I was left feeling worse. I learnt to identify what all of my feelings were and the power I had to change them.
When I saw all of this so clearly, it helped me see what I actually got out of my relationships. I discovered I had some people in my life who no longer needed to be there, due to the discomfort I felt around them. I grieved deeply over one friendship in particular, that I had perceived to be different to what it was. Certainly not easy making those big decisions for yourself, but it was necessary. I learnt that it was much more healthy to have a handful of true friends who loved me unconditionally and who reciprocated what I put into the friendships other than where I had been putting lost energy into elsewhere.
Learning how to make myself feel filled up transformed my marriage too. You can only imagine the pressure my husband must have felt during my times of need. Six years have passed since my major turning point and I have learnt SOOOO much about who I am, how I tick, how to energise myself, how to love myself, how to trust myself, the infinite amount I’m capable of and how to go out there and GET life.
I have Bipolar disorder. I manage my illness well and have been “stable” for 6 years (this is excellence in the bipolar world, lol), and I continue to rock my wellbeing. I’m proud to say I no longer justify my illness to others; people either accept me or they don’t, no one should ever feel the need to justify themselves because of an illness. It is such a small part of what defines me. What defines me is- what I can achieve, how much I can love, how much kindness and laughter I can share, what I can teach others and a mindset willing to push barriers.
I am perfectly, uniquely me.