Natalie, 29, Canada

16299174_10154946817632813_8129025086828256850_n“This might be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, well besides taming the beast that is.

Behind the scenes, I have spent the past few years struggling with my demon. A demon that within the field of modern psychiatry, is named Bipolar 1 Disorder.

The signs were always there, a diagnosis merely highlighted the facts. I was often met with the label of ‘too intense’, ‘hypersensitive’, and in some cases just pure ‘crazy’. The lookers and pointers where always quick to tell me something was wrong, but until I decided to realize it for myself, everything was just ‘fine’, fine with roller coaster highs and lows that could not be reasoned with. Until now.

And it isn’t. It is a big part of me of course, but I would be a fool to believe it constitutes my entire being.

But what does it mean? Well, for me, as well as shedding light on some of my past thoughts and actions, it now puts my future into perspective. I take daily medications, as well as self-care strategies. I work on a colour coded mood scale, that depicts my darkest and highest states. I never thought I would be so at home with a label, a chart, even an identity, but you see bipolar is not my identity, it is deep-rooted in who I am as a person. A person full of love, happiness, creativity, and excitement. Someone who, with the aid of said colour coded chart, can pin point her mood at any given time and consequently, yet proactively see the potential pitfalls coming her way and react to them accordingly.

Coming to terms with, and accepting this illness has been by far my hardest task to date – even given some of my most intense episodes and hospitalizations. The realization that there is a manageable life to this eternal illness and having the strength to push on with, and uphold the strategies I need to stay in a safe place, has been nothing less than an epiphany.

After years at battle, I feel I finally have some control in my life. Control enough to stand up and talk, to share my story.

So here I stand, guilty of the highs that send me into psychosis and allow me to talk to god, as well as the lows that dig a bigger hole than a JCB.

 I no longer anguish over the past, but instead, I now look onward with lust to the future. With the help of some very strong and supportive family members, friends, and helpful local organizations such as Bipolar Babes, Insight counselling and Vancouver Island Health Authority. I now know I can take each day for what it is. I have returned to university in a bid to learn this illness inside out, I continue to hold down a job and care for my four-legged friend Sandy the chiweenie (although she may well be the carer). I recognise the difference between self-care and selfishness and continue to grow as a person, each and every minute.

I’d never wish this illness upon anyone, but for now I am happy to say it is  very much a part of me. You can follow my journey on my Twitter and Instagram.”


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