Some days, everything hurts. It’s nothing specific, everything hurts. Waking up, opening my eyes, moving, hurt. Familiar sounds, sights, and scents hurt. Unconditional love from my husband and dogs hurt. Passions I’m excited about: cooking, writing, yoga, meditation, all hurt. I realize none of these things are trying to hurt me; I am drowning in emotional pain, intense bodily sensations and feel scared. I am paranoid, the cycling feelings make me nauseous and kick me to the ground. I’m being pulled down by the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. However, I know fear is a liar and hope is the only thing stronger than fear. I overcome, I survive, I fight, and I do it again, every day even when everything hurts.

I don’t regret living with bipolar disorder anymore. The ebbs and flows that accompany it have made me more resilient; I bounce back from the affliction like I was chosen for the role. However, I don’t want 100 rapid cycling thoughts that come with it. I don’t decide to have nightmares. I don’t wish for throbbing pain in my head when I try to escape it. I feel frustrated, guilty, and embarrassed when I can’t get my brain to cooperate. I don’t want to hurt or cry, but sometimes everything hurts.

It takes insurmountable strength to live life with chronic illness.

I live with Bipolar Disorder.

I am challenged to move past pain every day, every hour, every minute, every second. Sometimes it’s as though I’m sinking in quicksand and suffocating under mud, everything feels complicated, and my mind can’t function. I fight to overcome torturous thoughts and pessimist gloom. Even when I’m struggling with pain, with no finish line in sight or trophy to win, I fight.

I have built myself strong carrying a million shadows of pain.

My dis-ease has no cure; there is no cure for mental illness. A lifelong battle for wellness requires strength, balance, and love. I address these needs with a gentle force of patience. I’m committed to providing myself the best mental health possible. I am committed to giving this to myself because despite disrespecting thoughts that creep in, I owe myself the best care possible.

I fight hard to survive, and when I say fight, I mean I strive to be the best version of myself. I work it out, I yell, I talk, I sing, I dance, I move! I do what I have to do so I don’t fall backward. Falling happens, but I refuse to allow it to reverse my healing. I am aware that not everything will feel good when everything is hurting; still, I try. Every day I continue forward all over again.

I fight by myself, for myself, so as not to destroy myself because I love myself.

Bipolar disorder does not quit so I can’t either. I read, research, support, volunteer, advocate, and I keep doing things I require NOT to hurt. I harvest the happiness I experience, and I soak up joy as if it was my last glass of water. It’s crucial I armor myself up in positivity when my brain is well so I can prepare for when it’s not. I fight to survive this race because I know life is the prize and I’m in it to win!

Research and science are progressing, but there isn’t an end in sight for bipolar disorder. I anticipate pain to be with me for the rest of my life. I do the best that I can so not to allow it to destroy me. I hold on to hope while holding myself accountable. There’s only so much I can do with an incurable disease. That’s where I need understanding, support, and love from friends, family, and the community. That’s why stigma needs to end, and the conversation about mental health needs to begin and never finish.

I show my scars so others know they can heal.

I share with others living with Bipolar Disorder what I tell myself, “Do not give up, don’t you dare stop fighting. Your pain is real, and that pain hurts like hell. Some days it will bring you to your knees and have you begging mercy for it to stop, but anxiety, fear, and depression are all liars! It is ok not to feel ok, but suffering will consume your soul if you do nothing to stop it.

Don’t allow the hurt you’re feeling to spiral out of control. Symptoms will escalate, and before you’ve even realized it, you’re answering a wake-up call in a mental hospital. Don’t wait for that to happen!

Each patients treatment plan is unique and will require lifelong professional help. See a psychiatrist and follow their recommended prescription plan. Don’t suffer alone, talk to a trustworthy person, attend support groups and cognitive behavioral therapy. Keep a routine, improve sleep hygiene, exercise weekly, eat nutrient dense meals, hydrate, eliminate drugs and alcohol, meditate, pray. This advice may not sound fun; medications certainly have side effects, but getting yourself into a balanced state is possible if you’re willing to do hard things to get there.

The topic of mental health might scare people, but the damage of ignoring it causes harm to individuals, families, and communities. By discussing it openly without being afraid we can help end stigma that prevents people from seeking help.

Mental illness is real and is manageable but it takes effort, it requires your participation and commitment. Consider advice from people who live with mental illness, accept mental illness or are a mental health professional. Recovery isn’t easy, but it is possible with personal effort. Take advantage of all the resources available; they exist to support you. Practice patience with yourself and others. No matter what, don’t give up, don’t you dare give up! Your hurt and pain are real but so is hope, and hope stands for, Hold On Pain Ends.