Well this is it – my inaugural post. Here goes…
I picture myself standing at the front of the room in some dusty church basement, feeling encircled by trusted friends and loved ones. Everyone waits patiently as I step toward the microphone. I clear my throat and call forth the courage I know that I have, but that seems to need coaxing at this moment.
“Hi. My name is Sarah.” I pause, searching the audience for my sister. Our eyes meet and she nudges me with a simple nod of her head. I finish. “And I have bipolar disorder.”
Relief floods my senses at my public declaration. For years it has been so much easier to hide and deny. But today the time has come to be authentic and true to me. No more hiding.
I am well aware of the typical associations with ‘bipolar disorder’. I can imagine what might run through your head in response to these two simple words. As someone who deals daily with this illness I have probably thought the very same things about myself.
But if there is one thing that I have learned over the years – it is that it is so important to be gentle with ourselves. And the best place to cultivate this is with our thoughts.
Perhaps the most powerful words we use are “I am”. These two words start statements that we make about ourselves, publicly and privately. And these two words form the foundation for what we not only say about ourselves, but what we believe.
This is why you won’t catch me saying “I am bipolar”. I live with bipolar disorder. I manage my symptoms of bipolar. I have bipolar mood swings. But I am not bipolar. I am so much more.
My name is Sarah. I have bipolar disorder, and:
- I am not my diagnosis.
- I am deeply in love with my husband.
- I am ‘colourful’ not ‘crazy’.
- I am unique – there is only one of me.
- I am a loving mother and I work hard at it every day.
- I am familiar with the inside of a psychiatric ward.
- I am not my reputation.
- I am bliss when I make beautiful art.
- I am living a balanced and healthy life.
- I am a loyal friend.
- I am immensely proud of my family.
- I am a much nicer person in the afternoon when the drugs have worn off.
- I am a soul that delights in a moment spent writing.
- I am sure that now I am ‘out’ of the bipolar closet people will look at me differently.
And I am challenged by the stigma surrounding bipolar disorder. I am determined show others that our illness does not dictate who we are.
Thanks for starting this wild ride with me. I am certain it will be good a one.
A challenge for you – What kind of ‘I am’ statements do you make about yourself?