Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about why I lived silently with bipolar disorder for as long as I did.
There was, of course, the terror that people would reject me…
Or that, even worse, they would want to bar me from doing the things that I loved.
As much as that fear was an integral part of my silence, there was something else that I think played a larger role.
I didn’t think bipolar disorder, or the inner workings of my brain anyway, was affecting my life in any significant way. Especially when I was in more stable periods.
I thought of myself as an island, and the only parts that would be effected would be the ones that knew about this hidden illness.
Of course, I was one hundred percent wrong. My mood swings were affecting everyone around me, and were effecting my own life in a very significant way.
I’ve been attending a peer recovery class the last few weeks and early on we made a list of the ways mental illness affects our lives.
It can affect
- our relationships (with friends, family, co-workers, etc)
- our ability to work (for better (hypomania) or worse)
- our ability to complete schooling (at practically any level)
- our housing situation
- our financial situation (both via working and due to medical costs)
- our physical health (depending on how well we can take care of ourselves)
- our ability to take care of others (children, pets, etc)
- our spiritual lives
And I’m sure there are more that I’m forgetting! Looking at this list really made me aware of how many aspects of my life are affected by bipolar disorder, not just work and relationships. I know that I’ve experienced every single one of the things on this list, and not in a minute way.
I think that only after being open and honest about what I experience could I get the help that I needed in all of these aspects of life. The result? Though these areas are all affected, I am able to lead a more stable life.