“When something bad happens, you have three choices: Let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”
This is one of my favourite quotes. We’ve all been in situations where we’ve let them define us, destroy us, or strengthen us. We’ve all been in situations where we’ve experienced unbelievable emotional pain, situations where we don’t feel we can move on, and situations that bring enormous heartbreak. But we all move on. We all gain strength and experience from each situation, without even realizing it.
In 2008 I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II. I met with a psychiatrist and we discussed my moods, did tests, filled out some forms and questionnaires and without a doubt, I was diagnosed.
The next year was spent talking to doctors, trying out different medications, and attending groups to help better understand my illness. I felt like this is who I am now – a person with a mental illness. This is what I am - some sort of crazy person with a disease. I chose this perception because I was struggling and because there is so much stigma around mental illness.
Although I was letting my mental illness define me, I can say that I never let it destroy me. Yes, my mental illness destroyed me in certain ways before my diagnosis. But after, I was 100% into finding a way to recovery.
Over the next 5 years, I have learned that my mental illness has made me the strongest I have ever been. My mental illness no longer defines who I am as a person, but it does give me a strength I’ve never had before. Each day I go through a difficult time, I build more courage and emotional muscle.
It’s been almost a year since I “came out” about my mental illness, and it was absolutely one of the scariest and most freeing things I have ever done. Picture a butterfly coming out of its cocoon and flying away – corny, I know. But that’s probably the best example of how I felt inside.
I have been blogging about my mental illness since Day 1 of coming out of my cocoon. The most important thing I have learned is that there is nothing to be ashamed about. Mental illness is just important as a physical illness. We should be talking about depression and bipolar and schizophrenia just as much as we should be talking about MS and cancer and Parkinson’s. The only way we can smash the stigma to pieces is by talking about it. So, whether you have a mental illness or not, I challenge you to talk. Talk about mental illness. Because we will get to a point where stigma no longer exists,