I am not the illness – the illness is in me #WorldBipolarDay

Courtney Burke
Courtney Burke

Bipolar disorder, also referred to as manic-depression, is a condition in which one swings between extreme highs and lows. It is an illness that consists of both euphoria and debilitating spouts of depression that can make day to day life impossible to manage. The moods are considered outside of the norm. But what is the norm?

What makes others smile nonchalantly sparks an outpouring of joy for us. What makes others experience a fleeting moment of sadness shatters us to pieces. And this, this too is a gift. We have been given a challenging illness. It can be all-consuming, it can rob us of our thoughts, of our sense of self, of our will to go on. Bipolar disorder impacts every aspect of our lives- and although I’ve learned to cope, it is still there. I never forget I’m bipolar. I feel it, I feel it every second of every day. I take medication to prevent the mania, I take medication to avoid slipping into a long spout of depression. But I am not the illness- the illness is in me. I am no longer ashamed, I will no longer be silent, and I want everyone living with this disorder to know you are not alone.

I didn’t choose this, none of us chose this. But how very lucky am I to live with this empathy, with this sensitivity, with this strength. Because walking through the darkness granted me the ability to stand in the light, to shed that light.

And today, today I am here to say I see you. I stay inspired by those who are fighting the good fight. Think of bipolar disorder as a superpower. Our powers are empathy, intuition, creativity, compassion and sensitivity.

Our mind can be a battleground but, each of us individually has an army embedded within our selves. Do not shy from the struggle. The war can, and will be won. Your story isn’t over yet.