Doesn’t everyone have a desire to be understood?
I have always thought a good connection with someone meant she really understood where I was coming from. Then, bipolar disorder came into my life and all bets were off. It’s hard enough for those of us who suffer from bipolar to understand our illness let alone other people who have no experience or knowledge about mental illness.
But if I had a wish I would hope for more people to embrace people with mental illness and attempt to understand some of the challenges we face.
Over the holidays I spent some time reading stories of people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Each story was unique to the individual but there were many common themes. I found myself shaking my head because I truly understood what the individuals were talking about. I hadn’t been in their shoes, but mine were a similar type.
You probably know the story well. The struggle to find out what is wrong with you sometimes taking years to finally get a proper diagnosis. The unwanted and yet necessary hospitalizations trying to get stabilized and then counting up the casualties caused by erratic behavior from unstable mind. The trials and failures of multiple medication regimens and the subsequent fall out from the all too often minimized medication side effects. And have I mentioned all the while your struggling your supposed to find a way to live your life. Be the mother, father, sister, brother, partner, employee that you have always been without disclosing anything is wrong.
I think for years I used to cry when describing the journey. Now, I kind of chuckle with how ridiculous it is to expect ourselves to put on a front that nothing is wrong, when it seems like your whole world is falling apart. Often times because it is.
But how strong we must be to overcome and persevere the hand we have been dealt. I don’t claim to have handled my illness in a perfect way, but I handled it the best way I knew how. If I was more informed, had access to better treatment providers, had people in my inner circle who could talk to me and reach me with good solid advice, and the “ifs” can go on and on.
The reality is many of us who have bipolar disorder struggle and then we fight to get our lives back on track. We continue to reach out and search for information, education and resources and hope for the best. We must learn to live in the present and take one-day-at-a-time.
In the meantime, most of us would like others outside of the mental health world to understand our illness. I don’t expect people to know as much about it as I do, I just want them to know enough to offer compassion and support. I want them to read stories like I did, and realize the path is a tough one and I’m not to be blamed for what happened to me. I didn’t choose freely to struggle with a serious mental illness, it just happened to me.
It’s part of our human condition to desire others understand us. We all have issues, challenges and problems these things just get more magnified and complex when living with bipolar disorder.
I know you can’t make people understand you, but you can hope for others at the very least to have some compassion, and pray one day they’ll gain the knowledge to understand.