Before I begin sharing my advice, I just want to say to anyone reading this that has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness, continue your fight and stay strong. Take it one day at a time.
I’ve written about my experience with being diagnosed with bipolar disorder (which you can read here.) I still to this day remember each every part of my journey to recovery as if it happened yesterday. Now, I’m going to be completely honest and blunt for just a moment. Being diagnosed with a mental illness (or any illness for that matter) is very scary – at least for me it was. But, along with that feeling of being scared comes a sense of relief. It’s a feeling of being able to have a reason and explanation as to why you’re feeling the way you are/have been.
Recovery is one of the hardest things to go through. You’re taking all of the emotions, thoughts, unhealthy habits and are stopping them dead in their tracks. For example, there were days when I had felt so depressed that I wanted to go to the bathroom, grab a razor and self harm. But I knew that if I did, it wouldn’t get me anywhere. So it was all a mind game – trying to talk myself out of the thought of wanting to self harm. I remember times where I would sit on my hands on my bed for hours and cried because I needed to do everything in my power to not self harm.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed reading all of that and are now terrified, I promise it does get better. But, it will get tough before it does get better. But I also promise that it’ll make you a stronger person because of it.
Now during my recovery, I had a number of outlets and resources at my expense. The key is to find what ones work best for you. Here are a few that worked for me:
- Talking to a professional (ie a counsellor or therapist)
- Making a playlist of songs you like or can relate to (I listen to a lot of Demi Lovato)
- Pick someone that inspires you and write down inspirational quotes from them or carry a picture of them around with you.
When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I wish that someone would’ve told me that I am fully capable of living a happy life. For me, the hardest part was envisioing a future where I was happy, successful, loving myself and being able to fulfill all the dreams and goals that I set for myself. Because in the beginning, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be just a speck off in the distance … meanwhile it’s a lot closer than you’d think. But more importantly, it’s there and it isn’t going anywhere any time soon. So take all the time that you need to get to where you need to be. Because trust me, if you would’ve told me back when I first was experiencing symptoms of bipolar that I would be this happy, full of energy, love, and life, I would have never believed you.
Always remember you are not on this journey alone. If you feel like you’ve got no one there for you, I will be.
Alex Newton is a nursing student and mental health advocate. She grew up in a small town and plans on moving to London, England one day and open up her own health practice. She has a cat named Maya who she adopted whilst going through some difficulties. She’s a daughter, sister, and warrior who enjoys a nice cuppa tea.