The dictionary defines success as: “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose; the attainment of popularity or profit; a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity”.
I have learned the hard way that the current state of society is not conducive to success for those with a mental illness. As an individual who lives with bipolar disorder on a daily basis, I see firsthand what goes on around me and in the world.
I do not bring this up to cry “victim” or make myself out to be a lesser person than the next. On the contrary, I see success as so much more than monetary or popular gain.
You see, when you are in the grip of death, you view the world in a completely different light. I have battled to stay alive a number of times in my life. When you face your own mortality, your perspective on life changes. You really do appreciate every breath coming in and out of your body.
Having a mental illness, I find it a success to get through each day alive and well. I did not think I would make it past my 30th birthday, but I will be celebrating my 40th birthday this year! To me, that is the definition of success.
I am not here to toot my own horn either. I think it is important that if you are living with a mental illness to please reframe the constraints that society puts on you.
When you are battling depression or bipolar depression, taking a shower may be your win for a particular day. That is a success!
When it comes to success, do not compare yourself to others. I know everyone battles their own demons and issues, but a mental illness is a whole new ballgame and paradigm.
Keep strong boundaries when you are dealing with others. For me, this year has been a new experience starting my blog and creating an online presence. Many times I have had online gurus and others try to force feed me their so-called ideal definition of success. I am just not built that way and never will be.
That notion is still hard to swallow even after being diagnosed back in 1999.
Every day we are told how we should look, what we should eat, where we should live, what we need to drive, how much money to make and more.
Define yourself by your own standards and do not allow others to do it for you.
Do not compare yourself to your peers or others around you.
Success is so much more than monetary and popular gain. Once you can realize this and feel comfortable in your skin, you will be successful.
Remember, success is also based on your goals. If you set a goal to complete by a certain time and achieve it, you are a success. To me, that is a simple and correct definition of the term success.
Dealing with bipolar disorder on a daily basis, I find great comfort in keeping things as simple as I can. This disorder is complicated enough. I do not need to make it any worse.
Next time somebody starts to talk to you about success and what it really is, remember to hold fast to your own identity and what you define as success.