When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder – when I began being honest about the fight happening in my head between PTSD and OCD – I felt like I lost my identity. I will be honest in saying I’m not sure if I have gotten it back yet. Often, I find myself staring at pictures of the girl I once was. There is one in particular from this March that really gets to me. I look at myself, happy and unaware of what was to come – but she doesn’t seem like me anymore. That girl had secrets; that girl fought alone.
Honestly, I often miss her. I miss the strength that seemed to come from walking the path alone. I miss the mind that didn’t depend on therapy and medication to get through the week. I miss repressing memories that now haunt me. I miss hiding.
I was accustomed to physical illness. My lungs are doing what they can to keep me down, and they aren’t making it easy on my heart. I was used to the monthly doctor’s appointments and the hundreds of tests. I could handle the hovering nurses and the ER visits. That was okay because everyone understands physical ailments such as these. The mental illness? I feel like it has placed me inside a fishbowl. People walk around, glancing in and occasionally tapping on the glass. I can’t do anything but keep swimming, but the spectators seem to be expecting tricks.
I know that, for some reason the universe has yet to make clear to me, there is a purpose. There is a reason for the pain, for the trauma, and for the illness. There is a reason that the body I am in does these things. I am aware that both the state of my lungs and the state of my head are not my fault, and yet I struggle to accept the latter. I can tell everyone else that it is not their fault, but I cannot be so gentle with myself.
I can only hope and pray that you aren’t suffering the same crisis. I want you to know that your identity is far greater than this world would have you believe. The universe is so vast and magnificent, and you are a vital piece in it. Your heart, your soul, and your body were created for a purpose. Every breath you take is a miracle. Every beat of your heart means something to someone.
Don’t allow others to define who you are – don’t allow your illness to rule your life. Your life is far more precious and valuable than that. Every step you take just proves how strong you are. Every tear shed is a reflection of your will to continue on. Please, please, don’t forget who you are amid the chaos. Your body is still your body; your mind is still your mind. Your heart is still your heart.
I love you. I always will.
Even if I am caught in the waves right now, I promise to keep kicking with you. I promise that I will do everything in my power to keep both of us in the fight.
It’s you and me. Head above water. No matter what.