This week marks the five year anniversary of starting the Bi[polar] Curious Blog and for many reasons I have decided that this post will also conclude my time posting here. That might sound abrupt to some people, though most blogs seem to fizzle out rather than actually “end”. I’ve actually been considering the notion of stopping here for about 8 weeks and a number of things convinced me to make this move.
First, I’ve met my goals.
I started the Bi[polar] Curious Blog when I just started working toward understanding my own mental health, where I fit in the overall umbrella of mental illness and what it meant to me. I knew from many situations that I was doing a poor job at communicating about my symptoms and experiences and I hoped blogging would help me sort that out. On top of that, I was tired of the strange sense of shame having to hide these questions provoked and I was tired of people mistranslating my symptoms of mental illness into problems that they weren’t (things like addiction, unbridled selfishness, or generally being an asshole -to name a few). I wanted understanding for myself, but I wanted to help other people I know understand too. Finally, it was important to me not to give up on the blog impulsively, I wanted to really push myself to stick with it even when it was difficult.
In terms of understanding bipolar disorder I feel like I’ve come a really long way in the last five years. I’ve reached the point where I can separate my symptoms from my typical behavior and identify what each of them means. I know that my symptoms are atypical because of my treatment resistance and mega-ultra-intense cycling but I also know that each person living with mental illness is an individual with symptoms that vary from person to person. The diagnoses we live with are there to help us receive treatment and to communicate about our illnesses, but ultimately we’re all unique and need to seek treatment based on our own individual needs. I also believe that having bipolar disorder has nothing to do with my personality and that finding myself burdened with symptoms like agitation, hostility, or even homicidal thoughts do not make me a bad person, or someone to be feared. On the contrary, the way in which I’ve worked against these symptoms is a perfect example of how I’ve taken responsibility for my illness and am constantly striving to react to my symptoms in a healthy and safe way.
When it comes to communicating I feel like I’ve learned a lot from writing about my experiences, but also from the strangeness that came from having strangers or friends or family repeat many of the things back to me that I had written. I’ve come from being unable to clearly communicate about my symptoms to communicating in a support group and therapy, then to lead a support group and to talk openly to friends, family, and then finally in public about my illness (in addition to writing about those experiences here). Being open has directed me to a place where I don’t feel ashamed about my experiences or symptoms, and I don’t feel ashamed to communicate them with others anymore. Writing has been one of the ways I have been able to find the words to use, and I’ve been thrilled to find that I can communicate about my experiences well enough now for others to be able to relate.
I’ve stuck with the blog for 5 years. Five years! Frankly that really exceeds the expectations I had, I thought I’d be lucky if I lasted a year. Even though there were times when I couldn’t post because I was too ill, I am happy that I never abandoned the blog impulsively. In all that time I know I’ve helped others understand because they’ve told me so, from strangers to friends to family.
Second, I feel that I’ve started to outgrow this blog.
When I started writing I had close to zero support regarding managing my bipolar symptoms and I was doing so by trying my best to constantly control everything around me. You can imagine how well that worked! I was exhausted all the time and desperate for help, and I wanted this blog to chronicle what it was like trying to find that help along the way.
This month I’m graduating from the DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) program I’m in and even though my symptoms are still treatment resistant and I don’t have any help from traditional psychiatric medication to help with them I’ve learned how to set myself up to handle things better when they occur and how to cope when I’m reacting poorly. I’m not a wizard at it, but I am practicing what I need to do and I’ve already seen an improvement in my quality of life.
You can bet that after five years of writing about one area of my life I’m a little sparse on topics -especially since things have stabilized for me a little. I’m finding that being stable doesn’t mean everything is kittens and rainbows, actually it means having to deal with many other issues I’ve ignored in the process of working on figuring out the bipolar-disorder-thing. Yes, there are plenty of other things I’m working on (things like detaching myself from codependency habits, creating healthy boundaries with my friends and family, and addressing the matter of my sexuality and feelings of self-worth) but GUESS WHAT? None of those are bipolar disorder! I want to give my mind the freedom and space to consider these other problems without having to continuously go back to bipolar disorder, and at this point that is partially what this blog has become for me.
Third (and finally), I’m at peace with having a mental illness.
It took me many, many years to reach the point where I could accept that I would be living with mental illness for the rest of my life and honestly it was tough sometimes to make strides toward accepting that just because that is true doesn’t mean my life isn’t worth living. When medication after medication failed to work for me I saw a lot of hopeless days but I’ve finally reached the point where I can say with all honesty that I can’t change this. I can’t control my symptoms or urges, but I’m doing the best I can to cope with them in a healthy way.
Whatever fear I was wrestling with, whatever doubt and denial I was struggling with is gone. I finally feel a sense of peace about it, and even though that doesn’t change the fact that I have a mental illness it means I don’t need to worry about it every minute of every day anymore.
The struggle with coming to terms with this is over, and without that struggle there is no blog to write.
Thank you so much for all of your support!
I’ve really valued everyone who read this blog and left comments and I know that wont end today. It should be noted that the Mental Health Bloggers on WordPress are all total rockstars and I learned countless things from reading their/your work. I’d urge anyone who wants to share a link to their blog in the comments to do so, like I said I’ll be leaving things up here but if anyone is looking for something to read with fresh content there are tons of exceptionally good blogs to try.
Thank you for going through this with me. Thank you for inspiring me to write more, and inspiring me to create good writing habits. Thank you readers for keeping an open mind. Thank you writers for reminding us we’re not alone.