It takes a while to see the good in having a chronic illness.
Recently, I’ve reflected on how bipolar has molded me into the person I am today—in a good way.
I once thought ignorance was bliss.
It might be, in some instances, but being a compassionate and understanding person is paramount in my eyes.
Because I’m discriminated against, I have more of an understanding of other groups who are also marginalized by society.
Because I have been perceived as weird, I empathize and connect with “outcasts” and people who don’t fit the mold you see on American TV commercials and magazine ads.
I know a lot of people that are kind-hearted, mean well, and want to do things for people in need.
Usually, though, those people in need also fit a certain mold—acceptable help—babies, people with cancer, children with disabilities, senior citizens.
What about the people that aren’t so easy to support? The angry teenager. The homeless guy who talks to himself. The emo kid.
Ever since I was little, I felt different than the children around me.
I called myself a black sheep.
This feeling really sucked at times.
But it also allowed me to connect with the perceived “outsiders” of the world, and I am proud that I have the ability and sensitivity to do so.
This ability is not readily available to all.
It may be easier to be illness-free, blissful, charmed.
But to be flawed?
That is pure, raw, real life.
I respect people who have problems and aren’t afraid to show it. I respect those who are stigmatized by society but remain proud of who they are.
I worked in an assisted living facility for mentally ill male adults. I was a guardian advocate for adult men and women with severe mental disorders who couldn’t legally represent themselves.
I have been in company of alcoholics, self-abusers, and suicidal drug addicts.
My illness allowed me to see the real person in each of them.
Some people who don’t experience exclusion will never get this close to such a reality.
There are people I come into contact with every day who treat people who don’t fit the white, disease-free, straight, educated, and beautiful mold like trash.
I am glad I do not dismiss people based on their appearance or first impression. There is beauty in everything.
Sometimes you have to dig. In today’s world, we don’t want to take time to do that.
Yes, there are a lot of cons to having a chronic mental disorder, but there are a lot of positives too.
Having bipolar disorder has opened me up. It has taken me to places that some people may never go.
And for that, I have lived. I have loved, and I have felt.
I am imperfectly perfect, and now I have the ability to see that in everyone.
How has living with a chronic illness opened up your life to new possibilities?
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Last reviewed: 25 Aug 2013