I used to use the world normal when talking about my mood and energy changes. When I wasn’t cycling between hypomania, depression or some mix between the two – I labeled that normal.
I don’t really know what normal is anymore, and I’ve come to a place where knowing doesn’t matter. I’ve normalized it all, my depression, anxiety, hypomania – everything, it’s all my norm.
I experience various levels of depression, one of them which I’ve labeled happy depression. Happy depression is when I’m functional, low key depressed and okay with my depression. I don’t give into the depression or choose to foster thoughts or actions that will feed it, but I also know that it is what it is. When I’m happy depressed, my energy level is considerably lower, my head feels a bit fuzzy, and instead of fighting against it, which only frustrates me, I accept it, and go on with my day being happy depressed.
On the other end of the spectrum, when I was going through hypomanic states, I tried to subdue all of my actions to try to keep myself in a normal state. Now I just let everything be, without trying to deter or amplify it.
Instead of viewing my bipolar disorder as an affliction, I just see it as another part of who I am. All things come with light and shadow sides. Being a women isn’t bad, and with that aspect of myself comes its privileges and struggles. Being a lesbian isn’t bad, and with that aspect of myself joy and oppression follow. Having bipolar isn’t bad, and that aspect of myself is accompanied by strengths and struggles. Some of those strengths are an increased self-awareness, being more in tune with my emotions and being more conscious of the thoughts I cultivate.
I don’t know when that shift happened, when I shifted from partial to full acceptance in relation to my bipolar disorder. Recently, another shift happened that I did recognize.
October 9th through 13th I went to A-Camp. It’s a queer camp hosted by Autostraddle. They hosted a panel called Crazy/Beautiful that was about mental health within the queer community. So many people spoke openly about their depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorder, ADHD and borderline personality disorder. We were in this safe space where everything we were talking about was normalized. There was no judgement or stigma attached to it. I realized then that I still held shame around having bipolar. I feared the stigma that’s associated with it and all mental illnesses, but I was able to let that go.
I know what shame and fear feel like. I stayed in the closet from when I was 5-years-old until I was 19-years-old. It’s heavy, it’s dark and it’s isolating. The feelings that arise from letting go of shame, it’s freeing.
When I stopped struggling and grasping for what I thought was normal, I think that’s when self-acceptance kicked in.
– Emelina Minero
Michelle Minero, the Co-Founder of this blog and the overarching Love Warrior Community published her book, Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works. You can buy her book online or at stores in Petaluma, Sonoma and Healdsburg, California. For upcoming events and book signings, visit Michelle’s Events page.