When I was first diagnosed with bipolar 1, I took it pretty hard. My whole world had just been flipped upside down. A week prior I had been a Style Editor for a major website in California and then, there I was, sitting across from a psychiatrist with my mother at my side in Oklahoma being asked a bunch of questions that all boiled down to an accurate diagnosis – bipolar disorder.
I didn’t know much about the illness so, as I am apt to do, I researched. I read ferociously books on the subject. I joined a support group for people with bipolar disorder. I went to therapy.
I read a lot of bad things – like suicide rates and co-morbid conditions – things I had no idea I was at risk for.
And mostly I felt ashamed, as though my mental illness was my fault and I had to keep it a secret because who would ever love a sick girl?
When I was very sick, I was vulnerable and it was this vulnerability that allowed me to let people in.
What I’ve learned on my journey being beautifully bipolar is that I am still lovable. There have been people to love me through hospitalizations, bouts of depression, and flights of mania. You see, it is part of the package and it isn’t a part I need to be embarrassed about.
You are still lovable. Mental illness does not exclude you from love, just as a cancer patient isn’t excluded from love because he or she is sick. You have an illness of the mind and it isn’t your fault, and it isn’t a dirty secret. Be open to love – from friends, family, partners – because you deserve it.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net