living my recovery

I can look back at my life in pieces, and see the rollercoaster that time has taken me on; the ups and downs throughout my adolescence and twenties that brought me to where I am today. It’s a difficult reflection for me, thinking about who I was in the past.
People tell you that after your 18th birthday, after your 21st birthday, after your 25th birthday, years will just start to slip away, and that time will disappear on you in a flash. All of these years are ingrained in my memory, to the best of their ability considering the circumstances – and my love of alcohol.
The thing that no one can prepare you for is how to handle and fix your life if you’re losing your mind. No one has a guide for you for how to ask for help, especially in cases that aren’t cut and dry. If you aren’t an addict, or a constant danger to yourself, then as an adult it is difficult for outside people, even your family, to know that everything, including your mind, could be crumbling around you.
Of course, I didn’t know any of this back then. I thought I was just a girl who liked to have just a little too much fun. When you’re in college, that’s seemingly acceptable, even when your grades suffer a little because of it. I didn’t realize then that alcohol and the constant partying was simply a form of self-medication, and a tool that my mind was using against me. And even though my loved ones were a little worried about the recklessness – what could they do?
I wish I knew then what I know now. It has been a little over a year since my diagnosis with bipolar disorder, and even though I still don’t fully understand it, I have studied it enough to trace its destructive path throughout the chaos of my life. The ups, downs and the plateaus have all started to come together and make sense; it’s as though I could paint my life as a self-portrait of how the disorder has affected my adult life thus far.
And, of course, it doesn’t stop there. There have also been long-time body issues such as body dysmorphia along with binge-eating and food restriction over the years, on top of an abuse of alcohol and other issues of excess. My body has spent years racked with guilt and anxiety over ideas that are either created in my head, or that are insignificant to begin with. My fear has allowed me to distance myself from friendships, ruin relationships and test my commitment to my family.
Today, I am managing my illness, and since I have begun the journey of recovery, my life has improved exponentially. I have been able to allow myself to experience life more socially, I have improved relationships with family members and friends, I am in the healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in, I am finally pursuing the last leg towards my bachelor’s degree, I am working towards body positivity and am making headway in my career.
And it’s been like this for a year now. Most of the time, I am taking small steps forward, but occasionally take giant steps back. I still feel anxious enough to want to stay home from work sometimes, or hide out from people and avoid conversations, but most of the time I’m at least able to push through the rough days – and at least my head is a lot clearer now. That’s all apart of recovery though, and part of the learning curve…give and take.

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