Turning my bipolar disorder diagnosis into my purpose
By: Stacey Raina
In 1993, I went off to college and I was longing for acceptance and approval. That is when I came across Body building. Body building would be the driving force that allowed me to shine and hide my true colors. I was committed and disciplined, and it felt good. The day I got up on that stage and performed in front of an audience was life changing. I felt confident and in charge, I was finally worth something that I could be proud of.
Because of my success as body builder, I honestly believed that you could achieve anything if you put your mind towards it. I had a feeling of ultimate euphoria. I thought that my purpose on earth was to show everyone that they had the power to create this same feeling of euphoria.
I was pleading with God to help me discover the meaning of life. I felt birds flapping in my stomach and I started to cry hysterically. I thanked God profusely as I thought that I entered Heaven.
That night, I was an emotional mess. I was delirious. I was crying, then laughing, and then crying all over again. My parents were unsure what to do. They thought their only option was to take me to the psychiatric hospital. I begged and pleaded with them to not take me, but they felt like they had no choice.
After my two weeks were up the doctors thought I was ready to be discharged. I was not ready, and still felt so confused as to what I just went through. I was going to have to navigate this life with a new diagnosis. I had bipolar disorder.
I hid my story for years, only my close friends and family knew. I wished and prayed my diagnosis away. I was ashamed and embarrassed.
One day my whole perspective changed when I sat in the audience of “This is my Brave” and witnessed other people thriving despite living with a mental illness.
After the show, I knew that I had to audition to become a cast member. I shared my story for the first time in front of an audience. I left the stage feeling inspired and I knew from that day on I would continue to share my story, to hopefully inspire someone else.
Back in August, I committed to becoming whole again. I knew I would have to be disciplined and committed. I altered my diet, exercised, took my medication, journaled, and meditated daily. I slowed down my pace and I took each day as a chance to better myself. I now know that to feel whole, I will have to commit to the package deal.
Through therapy and self-reflection, I knew that I was a person before my mental illness. I felt free from the burden and label. I am proud of myself for my achievements despite the obstacles along the way. The shame has been lifted and my diagnosis has become my purpose.