Acceptance. The acceptance of having the bipolar disorder was not something I knew very well. I had heard about acceptance during the years following my learning that the bipolar disorder doesn’t just go away. Learning that something I was diagnosed with 20 years before never left me and that for 20 years alcohol had become my friend to manage the impacts from it. In my mind I now was “less than.”

Shame, on the other hand, I knew very well. That shame being something that consumed me nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, taking time out only while I slept. Deep within my heart, I believed I was “less than.” I no longer deserved respect for anything I would do from this point on in my life. I had a major character defect.

This belief was reinforced by the confusion and frustration my family felt as a result of mom having a mental illness. The fuel for the fire: a lack of education.

I then stumbled upon a few things that changed my life forever. DBSA and the simultaneous participation in an interactive internet study both focused on the recovery approach to achieving wellness.

Between my participation in face-to-face DBSA meetings, using the DBSA website recovery tools offered, such as Facing Us www.facingus.org, the participation in the study, and learning that recovery is possible, “acceptance” is now better understood. Respect for myself and the goals in my life are reappearing, the hope returning. I can only touch the tip of the iceberg when trying to describe and explain how this feels. How understanding the “acceptance” of having a mental illness has given me my life back.

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