About ten months ago, Gina was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1. With this disorder came along symptoms that can be defined as positive. These positive symptoms included creativity, a good work ethic, the ability to multitask, and being the “life of the party”. On the other hand, negative symptoms also ensued: mania, depression, eventual bursts of anger, and more.
The depression drained a good amount of her energy. Her sleep schedule was irregular and, often times, she did not know what emotions to expect to feel in the morning. Gina felt like she was a failure as a human being. This spiraled into suicidal thoughts. Luckily, she cared deeply about her family and realized that it was not fair to them to have to lose her to depression. With that being said, Gina has learned and shared with us some important lessons through her battle with bipolar disorder:
Lesson #1: Thou shall learn who your friends are
I used to have so many social circles and about seven great, amazing, and wonderful friends. Things happened and I became way less social and upbeat than before – I used to be the life of the party and it is really hard to remain friends with someone who has changed so much. So I lost all my social circles.
It wasn’t just my loss, it was theirs as well, and I understand that.
My closest friends felt that most people weren’t ready for something like this to happen. Some longtime friends became really close. So close as to learn absolutely all my problems – like being broke, being bipolar – and also my faults and still remained close. ‘Till this day still call me all the time, still say “I love you” and still give me all the support in the whole universe. They keep telling me to be strong because this too shall pass and “I’ll shine bright like a star”. As soon as I started to feel like a normal person by having a job, building new social circles, flirting with guys, and feeling attractive and sexy again… I told her, wish a smile on my face: “Hey. I’m finally feeling like a normal person again.” Her reply was: “you were always a normal person, sweetie.”
So, now I can say I have 5 amazing friends. And the bond is stronger, for they know so much more about me than ever before. And they have shared so much more about themselves with me as well. I have fewer, yet stronger and way more amazing and beautiful friendships than I could ever have imagined I would have in my entire life. All of this is a blessing that my bipolar disorder gave me. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Thou shall learn to love and respect yourself above everyone and everything
It was literally a first for me. I was always that dependable, strong, witted woman and friend that put everyone else as the priority rather than myself. To my core, I always knew there was something wrong, but never knew how to make it right. Some people knew that I would do that and took advantage of me. I knew it in my core, but I don’t know why I kept pretending everything was okay.
Figuring out my needs and my space was a process that took quite a long time for me to understand. Often, I felt lonely in a crowd of people whom I would call my friends.
I felt like a 70-year-old lady widower that is starting to figure out a social life.
It feels like I’m learning to walk again after being in a coma for 3 years. It takes a lot of effort to get away from home and socialize. But it is getting easier, and the more I go out, the more fun I have every time I do. And this makes me feel alive. I didn’t feel like this for a really long time.
It is important to point out that I sometimes feel like I lost some years of my life. I mourned them, and it is okay. For now, one of my “mind tricks” is to take one step a time and remember that I shouldn’t let myself go thinking about everything I lost or could have done.
Instead, I respect myself and push my limits every day, remembering that it is okay to do well and to fail. I am the mean of all my good, average and bad days rather than just the worst ones. Believe it or not, my mind has the tendency to be extremely demanding and perfectionist with myself.
Very often it tortures me by saying I’m not good enough. It is a phantom of my suicidal days I’ve been dealing with ever since I remember – guess my late infancy – and I thank God my rationality has learned to say “you’re just part of my sickness, I won’t listen to you”.