About bipolar Your stories Reflecting on 2020 with April Kelley I’m gonna level with you, I have no idea how to round up 2020. Let alone round it up without a bunch of clichés. This time last year I wrote a piece about new beginnings and finally feeling well again. It kinda holds up, so if this article doesn’t do it for you, maybe that one will. I also looked back on all the pieces I’ve written over the last year and noticed a couple of things; 1) I’m cringey and 2) I fear I’ve said everything I can about 2020 already. Wait! Okay, so I’ve done a little Googling and it doesn’t appear that ‘against all the odds’ has been overused – let’s go with that and let’s start with the obvious… Against all the odds we got through 2020! I’m not just talking about what we went through as the human race – that’s obvious… think about what you’ve gone through. It’s all relative and we’ve no doubt in passing said something along the lines of “yeah, but it could have been a lot worse” and you’re right… there is always someone worse off than you, but there is also always someone better off than you. I want to give you a moment to go; “bloody hell that was tough… for me”. Now I want to remind you of our incredible ability to find the humour, the light and the silver linings. We (with bipolar) have such resilience, our pain threshold is so high and sometimes we, or I certainly do, seek pain (in whatever form it might be) to doublecheck we’re alive when our heads turn against us. But against all the odds, we have laughed, we have made the best out of awful circumstances and we have created wonderful memories, memories which I very much doubt we would have created if we were given the chance during normal circumstances. If you said to me at the start of 2020 that it might be best if I go back and live with my parents, I probably would have done everything in my power for that not to be the case. But now, I wouldn’t change it for the world and have created memories we never would have normally. I appreciate this may not be the case for everyone, but you can probably guess by now the tone of this article. So, I’ve come to this conclusion; 2020 forced us all to be adults and to grow up quicker than most of us were ready for… even the actual ‘adults’. It also gave us the opportunity to reconnect with our inner child… these are the people that baked banana bread, took up a hobby, played with their dog in the park (not just walked them). But yet, I found my adult-self overshadow my inner child. I’m not blaming adult April, all I’m trying to say is amongst the scary adult-ing or as someone living with bipolar, we shouldn’t lose sight of what has got us this far… our inner child – that sense of fun, adventure and the feeling that anything is possible. The adult-ing isn’t going away for any of us, neither is the demon in our minds but that doesn’t mean we have to banish our inner child, they’re the purest part of us. Use me as an example. Every morning when I make my cuppa, I try and throw the tea bag in my mug from across the kitchen. When Annie (my dog) leaves the room, I hide from her (its funny, not cruel, trust me). And over Christmas, whilst watch Elf with my parents my mum turns to me and says, “do you still believe in Santa?” and I replied “you gave me no reason not to”. Long story short, I wrote to Santa telling him not to worry about me anymore and that there were kids who needed presents more than me. So, yeah – there will always be a part of me that does believe in Santa, because what do I gain by not? Also, cringe. It’s easy to forget that our inner child is ageless, and our imagination is endless. But once you are reminded, that sparkle in your eyes will return, the impossible will seem possible once again and your tea bag will land in your mug. We can, amongst all of the adult-ing find time, even just a moment to play. Living with a mental illness we tend to be harsh on our inner child, we hold a lot of guilt towards them and most likely ignore them. We should be scooping them up, holding them tight, telling them it will be okay and allowing them to lie on the bed with the cats for 20 minutes. Why? I don’t know – I’m not a therapist. That’s why I’m in therapy. Ask my therapist! Against all the odds your inner child has got you this far, don’t let them down now. As the lockdowns keep coming like a yo-yo, why not pick up an actual yo-yo. You’ll be bored of it after 5 minutes anyway. If you managed to follow my train of thought and, against all the odds made it this far in the article, my message to you is to look after and play with your inner child in 2021. You won’t regret it. All the love, April x P.S… Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my Magic Beans who got me through 2020. You know who you are.