Bipolar Disorder: Living up to Potential

Song of the Day: All You Wanted by Sounds Under Radio

(Photo Credit: B.S Wise available under a Creative Commons Licence.)


Bipolar Disorder often seems to hit people during their late teens or early twenties- I was 18 when I was diagnosed and had just begun a university course. Being away from home and beginning a stressful course all led to my first major depressive episode. Over the last 12 years I’ve been battling to keep my head above water trying to keep up with the expectations of my family, peers, teachers and society- I was always one of the smart ones at school and achieved well academically. However, this hasn’t been enough to help me cope with the demands of Bipolar.

One of the major side effects of Bipolar has been the constant chipping away at my confidence. Every time you get a knock-back, be it having to give up a job or ending a relationship due to the disorder, a great hammer blow throws you off track and makes it progressively harder to get back on course again.When I left school I was full of hope and looking forward to contributing something profoundly meaningful to the world. I could have been a teacher or a doctor. Everything was about achievement to me then. If I felt I’d achieved something great then that made me someone to be proud of.

So what happens when Bipolar Disorder wrecks all your life plans? Well I started to realise that I had been extremely naive in thinking that the world would just hand me great things on a plate. The hard work that I’d always put in before was slipping through my fingers, as every time I would settle down to study I would read the same sentence over and over again- it just wouldn’t go in. I also couldn’t sit still for more than a few minutes. I was so frustrated and beginning to panic- thinking that I’d lost all my abilities. I feel like that, up to a point, even now. I haven’t really developed any of my passions since the diagnosis apart from a half-hearted attempt at Grade 4 piano (I gave up after the exam because I only got a Merit when I was expected to get a Distinction).

All those past passions- I have so many negative emotions attached to them it is painful to revisit them and become reacquainted. The sight of a blank sheet of white paper desperate to feel the etching of pencil lead across its surface just fills me with dread. What if it’s not good enough? I’m not good enough to be wasting my time on drawing- what will it achieve when I can’t make any money from it?! With the flute and the piano I just feel like any sound I make will not be as good as it once was- why bother?! The perfectionist egotistical bully only wants me to try if I can be the best of the best. Since this is not going to happen, I let the bully stop me from ever trying, therefore I don’t do anything! But it’s OK coz that way I’ll never fail! Even for smart people, we do tend to believe all the crap that our egos spew out at us!

I think there are many Bipolar sufferers who are extremely successful, take Stephen Fry for instance he still acts, makes TV shows, writes, etc. I think this goes to show that Bipolar is not the only cause of my lack of confidence. I think I have been brought up to believe some pretty stupid things (all completely unconsciously taught by my parents)- that what people think of me is by far the most important thing in life, people will abandon me if I don’t live up to their expectations, etc.

It’s time I started to recover Rachel- the lost inner child. She’s been cooped up for way too long and has a keen urge to dance around the living room to the Nutcracker in a giant pink tutu….


3 thoughts on “Bipolar Disorder: Living up to Potential

  1. Hannah

    I came across your blog a few days ago and think it’s amazing. You write so beautifully and honestly about your life & Bipolar. I have just been diagnosed Bipolar myself & am struggling to get my head around it – your Blog has not only given me a lot more insight, but also hope that I CAN get through this… and life does go on!
    Thank you for sharing this with the online world, it must have helped so many people,
    Best Wishes,
    Hannah 🙂

    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Thank you so much for your very kind words, you’ve brightened my day! Currently in a mixed episode and had been losing motivation to post- you’ve inspired me to get back into it again. I want to help other people more than anything so what you have written really touched me. I wish you all the best and thanks again.

  2. Hannah

    No worries, I really enjoyed reading it so please post more!! I’m still learning to recognise different episodes (except the depression, I recognise that easily enough in myself!), but am fast realising that mixed ones are NOT good, so I hope that you pass through it soon. Take care, and really, reading what you’ve written has helped me not only gain more of an understanding but also feel slightly less alone in this crazy bipolar world!
    Hannah xx


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