Bipolar Disorder, My Biggest Competitor

It’s no secret that I have struggled with bipolar disorder for several years. What may be less known is that I have also fought hard to overcome numerous setbacks and personal losses as a result of my illness. I don’t like that I have had to deal with an illness as cruel as bipolar disorder can be, but the more I focus on how unfair it is the less time I have to live a full life.

I know for sure I am not the only person who has suffered because of bipolar disorder. There are many kindred spirits out there who can relate. So I dedicate this post to all of you reading, looking for some words that may bring peace to your heart.

You see, I know a great deal about believing in the American Dream and living that dream to some extent. I also know first hand what it’s like to lose almost everything at the hands of a mental illness. I think the worst loss for me was when I lost my sense of self. I was once a confident, young woman who thought creating dreams, setting goals and accomplishing those were simply a way of life. It was my way of life and it worked well for me.

Then I met this fierce competitor. Not in the form of a human being, but an invisible force that took away my ability to function. There has been no greater challenge for me than to find my way back to a stabilized person. Even making my way to the Olympic Games was in no way a fraction as difficult as it has been to fight bipolar disorder.

This is how my friends I know just how strong you are. If you’ve found your way back to stability from any bipolar episode, you are one tough person. Because this competitor we face does not play fair. It has it’s own set of rules and takes no prisoners.

But we win everyday by fighting the good fight. I know I had to pick up many pieces in my life in order to recover–one step at a time, day-by-day and sometimes moment-by-moment. The biggest and most important part of the fight is to never give up trying.

Part of the challenge is also to remake ourselves all over again. Because often times bipolar disorder has taken us off whatever path we may have been on. It might have kept us from finishing school or stopped us real quick in our career paths. But to fight back means we forge on looking for new opportunities. This is where it really becomes even more difficult.

If you’ve ever been at the top of your game and fallen all the way to the bottom, you know how hard it is to remake yourself. But you made the journey, why stop where you are? This is what I tell myself as I continue to get stronger on my path.

See, no one is there to point us in the direction we need to go, at least not for me. I’ve been fumbling my way around trying to find a sense of purpose for my life. I walked down several paths, only to either quit before seeing it through, or get to the door of something new and run before I opened it. I have even a greater fear of failing than I have ever had in my life. I’m not afraid to step out there and try, I’m just afraid if I try too hard my nemesis will rear its’ ugly head and render me incapable. I wish I wasn’t afraid, but I am.

I try to dream and set goals. I have accomplished a few along the way. But the really big ones elude me. I have had to learn how to be satisfied with the small wins. Because I know in my heart the small wins will lead to bigger ones.

I don’t have a great deal of answers for anyone. More than anything, just know there is someone out there who knows exactly how you feel. And whatever you are trying to do, keep trying. Don’t give up. Eventually we’ll find our way. We always do.

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55 thoughts on “Bipolar Disorder, My Biggest Competitor

      1. Amy… I am so proud of you.. I have always thought you are an exceptional person, with such a glowing, pure spirit, and beautiful soul.. all I can say, is “thank you, for bringing this issue to light..” some cannot admit this, as you have, because there is still such a severe stigma related to any mental health challenges. Its sad we lose so many, unnecessarily, but, they are afraid to reach out for a helping hand, because of societal judement and stereotyical fears, and vicitimization that accompanies admission or confession of any mental health diagnosis. What a sad, judgemental, cruel world we live in.. they speak of “bullying” between teens, and say how horrible it is.. but, adults “bully” those with mental health issues… tell me what the difference is.. I’ve never understood the difference.. cruelty is cruelty.. no matter what the age or situation is.. Anyway.. kudos to you, lady!! Fight on for those of us that fight, silently, for fear of losing our stability.. Love ya girl! So very , very proud!!

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      2. Thank you Shelly for your thought provoking comment. I am very passionate about raising awareness and speaking openly without shame. Ive lived too long in silence and refuse to live that way anymore. I want to help as many people as I can by raising awareness and to some extent sharing my story. Thank you for reading and sharing your view. Thanks for your kind words too–i feel blessed to have received them.

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  1. Reblogged this on Kitt O'Malley and commented:
    Former Olympian Amy Gamble is my Coach on living with bipolar disorder as she sheds light on mental illness. She concludes in this post:
    “I try to dream and set goals. I have accomplished a few along the way. But the really big ones elude me. I have had to learn how to be satisfied with the small wins. Because I know in my heart the small wins will lead to bigger ones.
    “I don’t have a great deal of answers for anyone. More than anything, just know there is someone out there who knows exactly how you feel. And whatever you are trying to do, keep trying. Don’t give up. Eventually we’ll find our way. We always do.”

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  2. Kitt & Amy…..

    You both encouraged me after reading this beautifully raw post,

    Sharing “outloud” our struggles is where the true “growth” comes from I’m learning…

    Kitt your words here kiCked my ass and in the best possible way for you fed my soul tonight; Thank you! :

    “If you’ve ever been at the top of your game and fallen all the way to the bottom, you know how hard it is to remake yourself. But you made the journey, why stop where you are? This is what I tell myself as I continue to get stronger on my path.”

    With this I leave this post encouraged…

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  3. You have resonated my very soul, dear warrior. I am in tears, but they are happy tears, because someone out there knows my pain and my struggle. Thank you for sharing. You have no idea what it means.

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  4. Reblogged this on Dodgysurfer's Blog and commented:
    Sharing because, while I don’t have BPD, this resonates very strongly with me and the last sentence is a sentiment that I really believe is one of the most important messages to anyone out there struggling with anything, and the main reason I love WordPress.

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  5. Well written and so informative, You are very brave I too suffer with mental illness PTSD and working through it learning to live a new way. I too have tried to set goals and never completed . Due mental health

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  6. I had a suicidal depressive episode about 20 year ago. Mostly reactive but quite severe. Still get the blues more than I should, but always muddled through without meds. Probably no ta good idea. Runs in the family. Anyway, I do understand hitting that vacant, empty bottom. Anyone who has never been there can never really know

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    1. I am so sorry about your journey with BP. I am glad you are doing better. I do understand how hitting the bottom affects us. The most important thing is you did not give up. I really believe one day more people will understand. There are so many of us out there who do “get it.” You are not alone!

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  7. I know of what you speak on those around BP. My mother suffered as well as those in her life. Education compassion and hard headed attitude helps. Be well and journey on!!

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  8. Thank you. My greatest lament is, “I used to be an ICU nurse, now I’m “only” a …” Well now I am at the point I can’t even work part time as a cashier. There is a lot I CAN do, and there are more things I could do, if I could just let go of the guilt (after all, God forbid I am HAPPY, right?) so thank you – hope to hear more good things from you 🙂

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    1. Kbailey,
      I am sorry the BP affected you too. It sure is difficult to be taken off our life paths. It is great you recognize the things you can do, it is a start for sure. Thank you for reading and hang in there!

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  9. Reblogged this on After Midnight: A Christian Bipolar and commented:
    For those of you out there who have mental illness, like I do, this article will interest you. My greatest lament since I have been disabled is, “I used to be an ICU nurse, and I was good at it!” As if that means that now I am nothing. I know I am not “nothing,” and if I would quit lingering in the past I might get somewhere! Former Olympian Amy Gamble talks about a similar issue.

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  10. Amy,

    I so appreciate your honesty about this “competitor” we face in bipolar. I, too, after falling far am trying so hard to look at success and life through a different lens. I so want my life to matter, to bring joy and help to others. My goals used to be about external things, and are now more about eternal things. You will get there, as we all will, if we can change our definition of success… God bless you on your journey!!! Thank you!

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  11. Thank you for sharing your heart. I, too, have periodically felt “direction-less” throughout my life-time, but with alot of help from professionals and friends and alot of personal soul-searching, I’ve found that happiness (for me, personally) is in those “small, daily wins” and that I get up every day, put one foot in front of the other and am grateful for each little personal success that I have. And as long as I don’t compare myself to anyone else (and thier personal journey), I’m O.k. with that. I wish for you much love and peace on your personal journey and pray that you continue to have many more “wins”- small and big, alike…..Namaste… 🙂

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  12. I got bucked off in 2000 with a severe bout of bipolar that landed me in the hospital twice and derailed my career as a pediatrician. I’ve struggled to get back on since then, with ultradian cycling that is resistant to everything except rTMS. I take lots of other meds, too…and I have to sleep at least 12 hours a day to keep the baddies away. It’s discouraging, to say the least. Yes, private psychologist paid for by Medicare (I’m officially disabled). No, “real” dwelling–I live in a heated barn with no bathroom facilities. I’m grateful I’m not homeless! I’m very glad for those who have managed to keep their disease at bay so they can go back to doing what they love best….I’m getting old, and I don’t know how long I can stand living on this roller coaster, never knowing when it will derail. Blessings to you from this crazy old crone.

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