I don’t know what to write about so I’ll just start saying anything that comes to my mind. Maybe that’s the best way, as trying to force writing is a bit like trying to pull a car out of mud. Writing to censor myself in front of an audience doesn’t seem to create inspiration or drive in me. I cannot worry about being judged. I cannot censor myself. I need to take the risk and be vulnerable, to a point, but not to the point where it hurts me.

Accepting that I have Bipolar leaves me with a vulnerable feeling. I feel a bit of a red, embarrassed feeling. I don’t know why. I shouldn’t feel this way. If other people don’t want to talk about mental illness, that is their issue, not mine.

But a thought comes to mind, and it goes like this: “You are exaggerating, being silly, making things up, being dramatic” etc.

About something that has affected me my whole life.

We are not full of “self pity”. We do not make things up. We do not choose to live life on a constant roller coaster ride.

We do not choose to feel so depressed we are suicidal. Nor do we choose to feel so destructive, we want to put our fists through glass, punch walls, kick and throw things, cut, hurt or destroy ourselves.

Bipolar is not a choice. It has chosen me.

I can choose to do all I can to help myself though. I can choose to view myself as a strong woman, not a victim.

Meds have stopped the crazy meltdowns and screaming in the street when something goes wrong. They have stopped the violent rages.

Before diagnosis and meds, I was unable to face the part of me that screamed, yelled, cried and destroyed things, then wept in a little ball for long periods of time. I was simply unable to cope, scared and embarrassed. I constantly worried that people would see me in this state, judging me as mad, bad and dangerous to know. Somehow not good enough.

But I am good enough. And so are you.

The days of pretending to be normal and hiding myself from myself are thankfully over. This sets me free.

I don’t know what ‘normal’ is, apart from that it’s a setting on a washing machine.

I’ll never be ‘normal’ and I’m okay with this.

My moods will never be normal. More controlled perhaps, but never normal.

Mental illness might not define me, but moods define my day. Some days, the moods are stronger, other days more manageable.

My moods change rapidly in a day. I can feel inspired one minute, dull and flat the next. I can be outgoing one minute, then suddenly this will change and I want to hide from the world. Some days it hurts to talk to people or do anything.

The highs feel great when they are not full of irritation, anger or panic attacks. They are great when they are not destructive. I want to do ten different projects at 2am. I feel great, invincible, touched by God, inspired and super-charged. But the problem with highs is that they are always followed by lows. It’s like the crash you get after drinking coffee, eating sugar or taking drugs.

The lows pain me. They are a psychic pain that hurts from deep within, a pain I can’t control or stop, but long for an end to. I can’t help but hang on for dear life, clutching at the couch in despair and fear when the lows hit. All I want to do is sleep away the pain. Eating and self care hurt with the effort.

It is worse than this when I don’t take my meds. I’d hate to think where I’d be without meds. Arrested? In hospital? A chronic drug and alcohol addict. Dead. I have been there when I was young, and live to tell the story.

No meds, no life. No recovery no life.

Today I have a choice: Accept myself and my condition, treat it and live my life.

I can’t fight the moods. It makes them too powerful. I can’t take away the moods. I have tried all my life to do that and it doesn’t work. I have no choice but to ride the tiger and go with the moods, not against them. I’m tired of fighting a losing battle.

I can meditate, exercise, talk, write and do my art and music. There is peace in accepting my illness, peace in the face of no peace. I can be helpful and productive in my life.

I am here for a purpose and so are you.

Our brains might be different, but we do not have to devalue ourselves for it.

We are unique. We are valuable. We have gifts. Always remember that.