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International Bipolar Day 2018: Bipolar Strong | Vulnerability is Strength
As I write this, considering the different time zones globally, I believe that World Bipolar Day is still being celebrated across the nations of the world. In Nigeria, we celebrated yesterday, Saturday, March 30th, 2018.
The more I think on this theme, the clearer I see how I have grown strong through the years, a bipolar diagnosis, notwithstanding.
I like to define Bipolar Disorder as a mental health disorder of extremes. I say this because most of the medications given are to strike a balance between ‘Pole A’ and ‘Pole B’ of every day experience. I recognize that talking about bipolar disorder isn’t a ‘one size fit all’ topic. Bipolar disorder could be in mild display in some people but it could be intense in others.
I think what makes the stigma of bipolar disorder and other forms of mental illnesses disturbing are the fact that many people do not understand it. Or they hear more about the negativities and limitations that accompany the diagnosis. If you heard that someone close to you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, what should you do? Go read up about the illness and ask the relevant questions – How will this colour their lives wayforward? What can you do to be of help to them? (Just be there for them and make them know that no matter what happens, you will firmly stand by them)
In 2003, I had a nervous breakdown and lost my mind. I was admitted into a psychiatry hospital and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I spent about seven months in recovery. When I returned home, one thing I was told was, ‘keep your story to yourself’, just take your medication and make sure you do not miss your hospital appointments…’
I did everything except keeping my story to myself. How could I keep it to myself? The story was eating me up! Every time I heard in the news that someone diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder committed suicide, I remembered my story. Every time I went to the hospital for an appointment and to get the next set of medication, I remembered my story. Every time I see the crowd of mentally ill people on the Out-Patient Clinic days, I say to myself, so I’m not alone! So, why isn’t anyone talking about this publicly? I asked different questions bordering on why I can’t share my story. The resounding answer is Stigma! The stigma surrounding Mental Health issues is real.
It is a stigma that suggests that, ‘people will not understand it, People will label you, and some will even avoid you. Some will be very careful around you…’, because you disclosed your bipolar disorder status? Yes! It’s true. These things happen.
In trying to get the people closest to me to understand what I mean by being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I have experienced all of the above. Still, since 2014, I have not relented in sharing my bipolar journey with the world through the ‘I dare To Blossom platform’ across social/digital media.
So, why do I share?
I share my bipolar story because I know that Vulnerability is Strength…because in the place of being vulnerable with the ‘right support team’, help is accessible.
I share because; I know that story telling change lives…because I know that somewhere in the world, my story is inspiring someone.
I share because; speaking up about my struggles and victories gives me a fresh perspective.
I share because I believe that a person’s potential, ability and capability should not be determined by a bipolar diagnosis but by their unique gifts and talents.
I share because I believe that everyone has a voice. And being diagnosed with bipolar disorder or not should not take away that voice.
We all have something in us that our world needs. Please, let’s develop that ‘something’ and offer it neatly to the world. The world needs the talents and gifts of bipolar patients. But how can the world even access it when we keep our stories to ourselve?
I shared my bipolar story with my fiancé, and he still married me, because he saw the real me, not the bipolar diagnosed me! LOL He saw my potential. He saw my uniqueness. He saw my passion. He saw my vision. From my husband, I learn that those who truly love you, will look beyond a bipolar diagnosis and still choose to stand by you, come what may!
“After all this, there is only one thing to say: have reverence for God, and obey his commands, because this is all that human beings were created for.” Ecclesiastics 12: 13 Good News Translations
I have been strong through the years despite living with bipolar disorder because I try to align my thoughts with God’s thoughts for me. God is mindful of me and he reaches out to me every day and in every way. He is closer than a friend. He is the One who knows me inside out and still calls me His own. A God, who in His sovereignty has been so merciful to me!
What more can I say??? I am what I am today by the grace of God. Thank you Lord Jesus!!!
My name is Precious, I was Bipolar and I live a full life.