You have a secret. If people knew, it might change your relationships. Will they judge me? Will they dislike me? They might even fear me…
Am I different?
I’ve tried to change it, but it’s just who you are.
I feel it’s time to share.
I have bipolar, note that i’m not saying I am bipolar. I mean, you wouldn’t say I am cancer now would you?
Bipolar. Bi-polar. Manic Depressive. It doesn’t get easier the more you say it.
Ive tried “mood disorder” or “depressed” my favourite explaining the symptoms “chemical brain imbalance” because you think it will have less stigma, but you know once you say “bipolar” out loud people’s perception of you changes. That’s the problem with mental health, when people can’t see it sometimes they don’t understand it.
Are you energetic/happy or are you on a high? Are you sad or are you dipping into a manic low?
People may find you unpredictable, flakey sometimes not knowing what to say to you.
I’ve suffered with periods of depression, the worst being unable to get out of bed and leave the house for a couple of months.
Feeling a massive wave of sadness, isolation, self-loathing and hopelessness. So many times on the floor trying to breathe through my tears.
I stopped answering my phone, and the messages stopped pinging.
Friends are no longer your friends, except for those select few who won’t let you push them away no matter how hard you try.
Your family doesn’t truly understand and their worry fills you with guilt.
I stopped taking care of myself. My computer and my TV, my only true friends, an ever-present distraction from reality.
You stop driving. You stop taking the train.
You stop caring about anything and everything.
You start to think everyone would be better off without you. You feel broken and unfixable, so why go through it all? Why?
Things are hopeless. You think you deserve to be scarred or bruised on the outside to match your damaged insides.
You contemplate the ways in which you might find release from the torment of this life.
You Facebook. Envious of smiling friends.
You look at old photos when you were thinner and happier, at least in appearance.
Can I even remember when I last showered?
If your Facebook world doesn’t know, perhaps it isn’t real. That’s the biggest closet of all these days. Perhaps you are still the smiling go-getter everyone else sees and thinks you are.
Perhaps this bipolar thing is temporary or a joke. But you’re not laughing.
Things deteriorate. Anxiety, panic attacks, you stop working. You start making bad decisions and staying up through the night again. You’re erratic. Impulsive. Possibly even hallucinating or delusional.
It wasn’t until I had a psychotic break I experienced intense mania.
One night I thought the tv was talking to me. I believed my ex was waiting for me outside and we were going to elope.
I became paranoid and thought there were hidden messages in the newspaper and from radio.
My speech was rapid and for many days functioned on little sleep.
I didn’t know who I was anymore.
In the first mental institution, I would do a tribute from the hunger games and thought I was in the film inception.
It is funny now thinking back!
I held onto a chess piece through out and I still have today as a reminder of that very difficult time.
In the second mental institute the medication started bringing me back to myself.
I felt scared and wanted to be back home.
My parents visited me everyday and took me out for lunch. I had lost so much weight.
Allowed my phone back, I spoke to my mum when I woke up and went to sleep.
My friend Tom reached out and encouraged me to exercise. I would send videos of me doing hill sprints.
This helped. A former part of me fighting for normality.
No one had knew what had happened to me. I had just disappeared from the face of the earth.
When I was allowed home, I was vulnerable and felt unwell.
I had problems with concentration and transport.
I looked at the shambles my life had become, but there were still a few people in my life that was worth fighting for, and that perhaps I should fight through this for them, and maybe one day I will even do it for myself.
I wanted to get better for my mum.
CBT didn’t work, despite me being such a goal orientated person. However, CAT therapy did wonders. We were a close group and supported each other. I learnt about the spiral of decline and become aware of my triggers.
Medication. It’s important. The times I’ve come off it I’ve suffered with crying, long periods of low and thoughts of suicide.
When I was first put on medication, my whole body slowed down, I couldn’t tie my shoe laces, and didn’t know what my body needed. Break down in communication with mind and body. I suffered from terrible tremors.
I’m now on medication that helps stabilise lows.
I’ve also had my last session with DR Gil Rios, my psychotherapist who has been treating me for three years. She’s seen me manic, anxious, sad, depressed and happy.
Without her I don’t think I’d be where I am now.
I am truly thankful.
There been a shift this year, and I wanted to live. Or at least try.
Sometimes it’s not easy.
Now when I’m low, I talk to my mum or a friend, and I remember I am not alone.
Bupolar is not a death sentence.
You can find a way to own your recovery,
I accept this is part of me. I take my meds, see my doctors, have therapy and I am now so much more self-aware.
I have some control, and I’m moving in a positive direction. One small step at a time.
You are strong. You are capable. You are talented. You are worthy of a life worth living. Change will come.
Put energy into the positives so you have less energy for the negatives.
Ive learnt to avoid blaming the illness for non-related daily behaviors.
I’m an autonomous person.
If you’re not able to keep plans or commit to things, avoid resting the blame on your illness.
It’s possible to cancel just because you don’t feel like it. Take ownership of your actions in the same way anyone else would in any other relationship.
However, there are times when you don’t feel too hot and you do need to cancel on plans. I hope my friends understand this.
Know your triggers. Stress, drugs, alcohol, drastic changes in treatment – these are all possibilities that provoke an episode.
Make it clear that these things are not causes of your illness, but things you should be aware of.
I’ve learnt the best kind of people are those who accept you with no judgement.
I get out of bed and make a green tea. It’s a start.
Final note. Be kind to yourself. This is something we as humans don’t do enough.
Thank you for reading 🙂