Being diagnosed with bipolar brought a lot of positive changes in me. At the time, I didn`t know if my diagnosis would affect my life “positively” or “negatively”. However, after living with bipolar for 17 years, it has changed my whole outlook on life. I`m more confident, organized, sleeping better, and conscious about who I socialize with. Another huge change is how I`m more empathetic towards others. Here`s what empathetic means –
“showing an ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”
I’m going to be completely transparent about something. Before I got diagnosed with bipolar, I couldn’t understand how bipolar disorder affected others. I guess it’s because I never understood the day to day challenges people faced who were living with it. Around January of 2000, I was diagnosed with bipolar and finally began to understand how a mental illness can affect someone’s life. All along I thought people always had complete control over their mental state and changing your mood was easy – like switching a light bulb on/off. But, living with bipolar disorder can be tricky and the constant manic episodes are serious since they suck the enjoyment out of living life. After my diagnosis, I knew firsthand what it meant to be bipolar. One day I would be happy having the ability to conquer anything, then “boom” I would sink into a depression without no reason behind it.
I didn’t know at the time, but I guess it was a combination of factors like sleep, anxiety, drugs, alcohol, etc.
Awesome #5 – I’m More Empathetic
Image by: brainyquote.com
After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder I have a greater sense of empathy allowing me to understand the pain and struggles of those living with a mental illness. It has also made me want to help others so they don’t have to go through the same struggles as me. For example, one of the main reasons I started this blog is to share effective strategies on how I manage bipolar day to day. Here’s the thing,
It’s very easy to judge other people when you’re not walking in their shoes. It’s easy to criticize others for not working hard or being lazy and “not” taking a step back to think they could be living with bipolar disorder and are having a hard time managing it.
Before I got diagnosed, I was one of the people criticizing because I didn’t fully understand the challenges people living with a mental illness faced in life. As a matter of fact, I would pass judgment on a lot of people simply because I didn’t take the time to step back and think they maybe facing difficulties in life. But, from my own personal struggle, I now have a greater sense of empathy and put more of a conscious effort trying not to pass judgment on anyone. If I do slip and pass judgment, I’ll catch myself criticizing and step back to share the feelings of the other person. Why? It’s because you never know what type of mental challenges that person is living with, and having a hard time managing.
Before I conclude, I wanted to give you some words of encouragement.
Everyone can grow physically, mentally and emotionally by making a conscious effort to keep improving. You need to first decide you want to change your life for the better, and tell yourself bipolar won’t slow you down anymore. Only then can you start to understand more about yourself and what’s holding you back. After being diagnosed with bipolar, and then a 9-year phase of self-pity about why it was me who was diagnosed, I decide I wanted a better life. I put an effort to understand what patterns, environments, and negative habits were slowing down my growth. After, I eliminated those negative habits by constantly forcing myself to make improvements, and replaced negative habits with positive alternatives. This ultimately helped manage my mood swings, anxiety, and stress. Here’s my point,
You have the power and ability to change anything in your life so don’t let your bipolar diagnosis slow you down from conquering your dreams.
Bipolar disorder has given me a greater sense of empathy allowing me to share the struggle that people with bipolar disorder face. It’s funny how sometimes you have to be put in a certain situation yourself to appreciate and respect what others are going through. However, it goes beyond that for me because I’ve made it my mission to increase bipolar awareness, and educate others not living with bipolar. This is the only way for others to understand and share the same feelings as those living with it… now that’s awesome!