I don’t know if I will ever be the person I was before Bipolar 1 Disorder took control of my life.
But maybe that’s okay. We, as humans, are always evolving, always changing. Sometimes for
the better. Other times, for the worse. It is hard to accept you are subjected to an illness that can
wreak havoc on your life at any time, but so much of our lives is lived in fear of the unknown, in
fear of what will happen next if I do or if I don’t, what crappy hand will I have to deal the next
time around. That’s just how it is sometimes—not just for people with Bipolar disorder, hell, for
anyone.


But I can’t spend my days, sitting around, wondering if I am the person I was before Bipolar
Disorder. I just have to live and enjoy my days as much as I can because I don’t know how many
days I have left or what the next day might bring. I don’t have the luxury of having the gift of
prophecy. I wouldn’t even want it.


I know I am slower because of my mental illness. That, all those thousands upon thousands of
chemicals that have been stewing about in my brain for the past twenty one years, have slowed
my reaction time—to so many things. Not only physically, but mentally.


When people ask me a question, sometimes, it takes me an abnormal amount of time to process
it. So, I end up just blurting out an answer because I don’t have an immediate thought or
response (I’ll draw a blank–it’s very disconcerting), or I don’t want to make them wait two minutes for me to get my words in order. And half the time I do that, the answer is wrong. I’m so eager to just say something, a word will roll off my tongue, only stopping for one millisecond to really think it through.


Sometimes, you ask me a question and I rack my brain for an answer and if I don’t come up with
one quick enough (or at least, quick enough by my paranoid standards), I’ll say whatever just so
I can say SOMETHING. Or I say something brief, not wanting to let on that my mind has drawn
a blank. A complete blank. I swear, I was much sharper before I started taking these pills two
decades ago.

And after my breakdown that had landed me in the hospital when I was 18, I had forgotten how
to swim or ride a bike. Things I learned at age 7 and 5 respectively. Still haven’t relearned how
to do either. My mind just doesn’t remember. The muscle memory is non-existent. It’s
like…those skills just fell out of my brain one day. And having that breakdown, experiencing
whatever trauma, it is the only explanation. Or at least, the only explanation my brain can
process.


But I like who I am today.

Yes, it’s true. Would I be better if I never had to endure my mental illness? Would I talk more,
be more sociable, be less afraid to try new things? Maybe.


But even though bipolar disorder prevents me from fully enjoying certain things, I am still
enjoying life. I am grateful for being able to laugh. Grateful for a roof over my head. A caring
family. A loving, lovable fiancé. I am grateful to be able to wake up and say, hey. Sky’s looking
pretty good today.

Yes. There are things I was able to do before that I can’t do now. Yes, my illness presses me to
say no sometimes, when I should allow myself the joy and freedom of saying yes. No, I have no
idea where this road may lead. But I can’t sit, and wait, and wonder. Who would I be if not for

my illness? That would take away too much from who I AM today. I’ve worked too hard to get
to this point in my life.


Life’s too short to mull over what could have been or pine for what could be if things were
different. I’m going to ride this rollercoaster–and I have a love-hate relationship with
rollercoasters. I’m going to smile when I’m happy. Cry when I’m sad. Laugh when something is
freaking hilarious. I’m going to live. That’s it. That’s all. One foot forward, one step at a time.
And I have to keep reminding myself. I don’t owe anyone any explanations.

~ Crystal Lancaster

Crystal is a Southern California native with a deep passion for both writing and mental health advocacy. She has been with Breaking Taboo for nearly four years, helping manage the team of talented writers and educating others about mental health and suicide prevention. She is also a certified speaker for NAMI, and having lived with Bipolar 1 Disorder since she was 16, she truly believes happiness is in everybody’s path. It’s only a matter of getting there.