I live with bipolar disorder. Some seem shocked or are in disbelief when they find out that I actually live with this condition. I don’t “act” or seem bipolar to them because I don’t portray how society views this illness, nor do I appear any different from them. That is because I’m not that different from them. I’m still a human being, but I just happen to struggle with my moods and emotions at times. We all have things that we struggle with. It sometimes amazes me how some think bipolar disorder is so scary though. I mean, it definitely can be.. It’s no walk in the park, that’s for sure. During times of depression, there are days where I feel as though I cannot even get out of bed and face the day. I struggle to achieve seemingly simple and everyday tasks such as taking care of myself, going to work, to class, or to doctor’s appointments. I sometimes find myself lying in bed for hours with a pillow full of tears telling myself to just hold on. “Hold on just a little longer. Things will get better soon.” It’s one of the most intense feelings I’ve ever experienced. That loss of hope, the self-hate, and the despair. Sometimes I feel numb to what I once desired; A college degree, a rewarding career, and marriage. It almost feels unachievable or not worth it anymore. It’s as if those things and the people I love no longer matter at that point. The depression has taken over and I no longer know exactly what it is I want or need. I feel confused, frightened, and alone. I push my fiance away as I struggle to cope. I don’t feel good enough for him. I don’t feel good enough period. Nothing feels right anymore when experiencing depression.
This disorder can really feel like a night and day experience at times. For a while I feel fine, sometimes overly excited and confident, perhaps even “normal,” and other times I feel so down to where I contemplate ending my life. Bipolar disorder can feel absolutely debilitating at times. So, it can be scary, but not in a horror film sort of way as some may view it. For many, like myself, bipolar disorder is an internal war with oneself which alters how a person feels and functions. It’s a fight against and within myself, not towards anybody else even though it can affect those around me at times too. Bipolar disorder doesn’t define me, nor does it mean that I’m dangerous just because I have this condition.
Back in the day, children and teens who acted out or misbehaved were once considered “rotten.” They had know idea or concept of any mental illness existing back then. I grew up with terrible anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression. At certain points, I could no longer go to school and it wasn’t that I didn’t want to go. I honestly couldn’t handle it as it seemed to worsen my condition and state of mind. I became overwhelmed rather easily and could hardly even finish high school. I was accused of purposely being defiant and many other things during those times. It was absurd and quite devastating. I seriously thought I would never even witness my 18th birthday due to how troubled I was feeling.
My goal is not to gain sympathy from others by sharing my stories, but to spread awareness and gain understanding and compassion for those who live with a mental illness. I admit, I am quite embarrassed to even speak up about my condition to certain people for the fear of being judged or viewed differently. I don’t want to be treated any differently than anyone else. I have seen the looks people give and I have heard some awful remarks. It hurts… especially when it comes from family, friends, or people who you think would understand the most.
Why do some seem so apathetic and fearful towards mental illness? Why isn’t there a better understanding and support system? Why must some suffer in silence or hide behind feelings of shame and guilt?
I get it. I mean, the topic of mental health isn’t light or fun to talk about. It doesn’t make for great small talk like sports or entertainment does, but you know what? You might just help save a life by bringing it up and talking about it at home, with friends, with family, and even at work or school. Our society really needs to get better at this. Avoiding and dismissing the topic of mental health only makes it more difficult for those who suffer. It also hinders those who need help from seeking treatment.
I feel like mental health and this illness is part of who I am in a way and when the topic is dismissed or treated in such a poor manner, I feel inadequate and ashamed for having a condition that I simply didn’t choose. I’m sure many others who live with a mental illness can agree with me on that as well.
The time is now to talk about mental health.
It’s time to start the conversation!