Eventually, everyone has to accept his or her limits. Circumstances over the last few months have forced me to gradually accept some of the things I cannot change. I will have bipolar disorder for the rest of my life and the serious episode that I just came out of likely will not be my last.
Through this episode, I’ve been repeating a certain proverb over and over in my head:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
When you have a mental illness, courage is facing each day during a crisis with faith that soon it will get better. Medications can do some painful things to your body while they fix mood symptoms. Continuing to take medication through the initial uncomfortable side effects is hard. Having faith that the short-term pain will end eventually takes more courage than I think most realize. It is so tempting to crawl back into bed and hide. For a few weeks, that is all I could do. Now that I’m back in the real world, the magnitude of the courage it took to keep living one hour at a time, to keep myself from giving up, is already starting to fade.
My wisdom has grown as those hard hours and finally years have passed. Ten years living with bipolar disorder has taught me that I am my own best advocate for my health. Everyone has the patient’s best interest at heart during a crisis but it takes time for each of us to understand what medications, therapies and doctors are helping and which are hurting. Wisdom is knowing what works for you while supporting whatever helps others get through the bad times on their own path.
Wisdom slowly seems to trickle from one part of your life into another until a sense of serenity spreads and sets in. Right now, coming out of a crisis, my priorities are clear. Things that used to be stressful are unimportant. Causes of anxiety, doubt and indecision are now concrete. This new found sense of calm and even quiet joy comes from knowing that so far my record is perfect for getting through the hard times, and that gives me serenity.
About Sarah Lindsay
Sarah Lindsay is in her mid-twenties and lives in Toronto with her boyfriend and their dog (who also has some anxiety issues). Sarah was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2005 at the age of 16 and is still trying to figure it out. Follow Sarah’s story on HMC’s Supportive Minds Blog, or additionally you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook or check out her new website: SarahsMoods.com