When I heard from a doctor that I was living with a mental illness (well, really I was hearing it for the second time, but this time-a decade later- I was actually paying attention), there was some relief involved.
Finally things started to make sense. The manic shopping sprees, the out of control behavior, the massive meltdowns, my irritability that only seemed to come in waves, periods of incapacitating depression that would suddenly lift, all of it.
My doctor at the time told me it was normal to grieve the diagnosis too, and I did some, but I don’t think I realized the full Bite to the words “you have Bipolar Disorder” until much later.
I took those words and internalized them and I became “Bipolar Disorder.” That became my identity. I lived and breathed the diagnosis. I couldn’t have an emotion without tying it to my illness somehow in my mind.
I not only applied for and received disability payments (after a long battle with the government), but I became even more disabled in the process.
Somewhere I lost the core of me.
I turned into a shell of myself, afraid of everything, convinced I was too sick to follow any of my dreams. I didn’t believe a relationship was possible for me or that a career or really living was a true possibility.
It’s only been in this last year, with the help of some really awesome professionals, that I’ve seen that life is possible while living with a mental illness. There is no reason to live the life of the living dead. Who knew? I sure didn’t.
A diagnosis is not a death sentence. It’s not even anything other than a tool for a doctor to be able to better help me. That is all it is. Nothing more, nothing less.
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