Where Do I Begin and Where Do I End?

I tend to shy away about talking about my relationships on here because I tend to treat them as sacred. But I realize that would be negating a big part of my life that my readers may relate to and honestly, walk with me through this break up, and I will have you better on the other side for it – because I generally have a level head when it comes to relationships and the sometimes inevitable ends of them. I can experience the pain of rejection, loss, and missed opportunities wash over me but I will forever be rational in the way I choose to interpret these feelings.

The simple fact is and what I genuinely believe: what is meant for me will be meant for me. Basically, if he walked then I am actually one step closer to where I am supposed to be – clearly not with him. I gave this person so many opportunities to rise up and grow with me but unfortunately he was not interested – and that’s ok! That’s on him and not me. But what IS on me is the question I have been asking myself the past few days since breaking up and that is: “Where Do I Begin and Where Do I End?”

The fact is whether I want to admit it or not, I made myself smaller than life for him. Let me explain that… I kept quiet all the pieces that make me uniquely me and that I adore personally – that I am passionate about writing, mental health advocacy and most importantly and unfortunately I kept quiet my belief that everyone deserves a certain level of respect in a relationship (whether romantic or not but most especially romantic). I accepted less than I deserved from this person CONSISTENTLY, seriously I am debating whether I am a sadist at this point, hmmm…?

Things I let slide that I would never tolerate before, or let alone accept my friends to let slide in their own romantic endeavours. I became a less shiny, push over version of myself that quite frankly I feel as though I must have fell down the rabbit hole to some alternate universe that I ever became this version of myself – it’s my least impressive version yet. I’m starting to wonder am I “mousy?” as in a meek person in general or was I so blinded by this person’s potential love (key word potential because he was giving me nothing to go on from the start) that I made myself dull to be more accommodating or “easier to love?”

I am used to being called “Firecracker!” by strangers who meet me the first time, and told I have an energy that is delightful but I fell trap to this rebound that lasted six months too long. If I am being honest I made myself into a gray version of myself because not only did I want so desperately to be in a relationship (having ended a very serious three year one before this), I also on some deep internal level did not trust this person to see ALL of me. And again, that’s ok! But I should have trusted my instincts that consistently screamed “Get Out Now!” instead of continuing to make myself small for a person who honestly was worthless.

Never have I been consistently treated like garbage since my early 20s – when girls typically let all kinds of shady shit slide. I somehow convinced myself that’s what I deserved and that maybe that’s how a “normal” relationship is supposed to work, and I just didn’t get the memo. My gut told me “to walk” over and over again and with each ignorance of my instinct, I became even duller in my opinion.

At the dark core at it (sorry to bring it back to the dark place), I was simply afraid to be alone – to die alone. My clock is ticking and I can hear it mocking me, “You need to settle now to have someone in the bitter end.” But honestly fuck you! To people who drive this cookie cutter idea of what love is supposed to be down our throats. I want to stand alone in the end, loving myself, and if someone joins me, that’ll just be the icing on an already delicious cake!

So Where Do I Begin and Where Do I End? I’m still figuring it out but I am taking the time to do that. I do know I shine brighter when by myself and after each break up, I return to an even better version of who I am. I’m learning…and if my unnecessarily long rebound taught me anything – it taught me to take time to heal and sort through the mental baggage that comes from all those scary and real feelings when something that you thought would be special comes to be trashed.

I will not make myself smaller to fit into anyone’s misguided idea of a box for me,

Taking Time to Heal,

All my Love,

xoxoxoxoxoxo,

BiPolarMania

thank u, next

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Ariana Grande and Mac Miller (one of Ari’s exes mentioned in “thank u, next”).

Ariana Grande released a new single called “thank u, next” recently in which she name drops exes and claims a new beau, Ari, a.k.a herself. Two things stand out for me the most when I listen to this song, firstly the sweet tribute to recently deceased Mac Miller, “Wish I could say “thank you” to Malcolm ’cause he was an Angel,” and secondly the power behind her lyrics.

“thank u, next” is a great break up song because of what Ariana Grande preaches and that is to love yourself. She hooks the listener in with the lyric “Plus, I met someone else. We havin’ better discussions.” The listener is left wondering who has Ari moved on to now? She answers this question in the following lines, “But this one ‘gon last. ‘Cause her name is Ari and I’m so good with that.” Grande chooses herself in the end and there is a certain power in that.

“I’ve learned from the pain. I turned out amazing” are the lyrics that resonate with me the most, however. Throughout my struggle with bipolar disorder, I can honestly say I learned from the pain. I grew as a person and came to have more gratitude for the things around me. I appreciate a good day so much more now that I have experienced so many bad ones.

I appreciate the little things like going shopping at the mall or going for a walk because there was once a time my mental health was so poor I could not do that. I had agoraphobia which meant I was terrified to leave the house and as a result ended up in a vegetative-like state on my couch for months on end. After experiencing a depression so deep, I now have a better understanding of what’s important.

Ariana Grande understands pain. She owns pain. Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester was attacked by a suicide bomber and rather than let it steal her voice she decided to put on a benefit concert for the victims. She truly has “learned from the pain and tuned out amazing” as the song goes.

I believe I too have learned from my pain and am better for it. I lost everything that ever meant anything to me when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I had to quit the thing I love – school, to focus on my mental health and stabilization. This may have left me with a bitter taste in my mouth but in the end I gained something – a better understanding of life’s ups and downs.

 

 

The 5th Stage of Grief (Acceptance) and Diagnosis

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There is a sort of grief that comes with bipolar disorder. When you are first diagnosed it can come as a shock and feel as though a part of you has died. This death of self needs to be grieved in order to accept the diagnoses and move on.

Just as you would grieve someone you have lost, you must grief the past version of yourself you upheld as a healthy, mentally stable individual. You must now come to accept yourself as a person with a mental illness and who will need treatment in order to keep it in check.

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The first stage, denial, is the easiest to fall victim to and the most detrimental to the well-being of a person struggling with a mental illness. Often when first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the individual will deny they even have the illness and refuse treatment. This could waste precious time that could be used to stabilize the individual. Denying the illness can take away from time spent living a healthier, more mentally stable life.

Acceptance is a very important aspect of mental illness. The individual must first accept their diagnosis before ultimately seeking treatment. One has to accept the death of their previous self, known as not having a mental illness, and the emergence of a new self who needs medical intervention to remain healthy. It is important to grief this loss of identity so one may accept entirely the new one.

Anger is another stage of grief that many newly diagnosed bipolar individuals experience. I was extremely angry when first diagnosed and misplaced a lot of that anger on to myself. I thought there must be something seriously wrong with me that I ended up being bipolar. I believed I was being punished by God for past mistakes and that bipolar disorder was my cross to bear. I even was angry with my parents for awhile too since the illness is hereditary. I thought how dare they pass this on to me! I realize now how ridiculous of a notion that is.

Bargaining is another stage of grief we often experience. When I was first diagnosed I found myself bargaining with God. I would pray to him that I would do anything he wanted if he could just take away my bipolar disorder. However, the stage of grief I experienced the most and longest following my diagnosis was depression.

After having my first psychotic and manic episode leading to my diagnosis, I returned home from the hospital to my bed. I laid in bed for months on end crying endlessly, “why me?” I could not seem to understand why this was happening to me. I would sit on the couch for tens of hours at a time watching tv, feeling completely numb. It was not until I started asking questions and seeking answers that this depression lifted and I finally experienced the stage of acceptance.

Knowledge is power and this power helped me come to terms with bipolar disorder. I began watching documentaries on the illness and reading books taken out from the library on the disorder. The more I understood about it, the more I felt comfortable coming to terms with the fact that I had bipolar disorder. I was less angry and disappointed with myself because I finally understood it was not my choices that led me to have the disorder but shitty biochemistry. I also understood that I needed to seek treatment to alleviate the symptoms caused my bipolar disorder after researching how it could get out of hand and how there were several mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics that could check and balance the illness.

I accept my bipolar disorder now and everything that comes with it, including my monthly injection of an anti-psychotic.  Acceptance is important as I mentioned before to ensure the individual seeks treatment. It is also important because the individual has to let go of their past self without the disorder and accept the new norm.

We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live.