When Bipolar Disorder Makes It Difficult to Trust Your Own Mind


Only three years ago, I was hospitalized for being suicidal. For years before that, I had no idea what wellness was. All I knew was depression, hypomania, suicidality and psychosis.

Today, I know what wellness is and fight for it every day. Sometimes, I actually succeed.

When I try to explain what it’s like to be bipolar, I talk about trust, the one thing I think makes us different. It’s hard to trust a mind that has betrayed you. It’s hard to trust a body that feels broken. It’s hard to trust that people will understand. It’s hard to trust you’ll be well again. All this doubt, and no wonder the path through bipolar is filled with anxiety and uncertainty.

One thought that haunted me once I felt what “well” was: when will it return? I wouldn’t make grand plans to accomplish things because it was all just going to fall apart again. I gave up. I thought better not to try, but a life like this felt empty. It was hard to suppress the drive to create a better life. I had to trust I could accomplish something, despite the recurring mood fluctuations.

I’m a writer and an artist. I’ve always known this. When I say that, I mean more than a vocation or an interest. It is deeper than that. I have dozens of poems and drawings in me that have never been made because I can’t trust myself or what will happen with my disease. I can’t trust that what I have to say is worth it. I can’t trust that it makes sense. I can’t trust that anybody wants to hear it. I can’t trust it won’t land on the pile of undone works, derailed by another episode.

For people with bipolar disorder, those who are sometimes rejected and stigmatized, whose minds have fooled them more than once, whose lives are like a maze of detours, it’s tough to put yourself out there. Every day, I promise I will try. I will trust that I am a beautiful specimen of a being even if I am imperfect. I won’t let the dull routine of staying safe and quiet become the status quo. I will write that poem and draw that drawing to the best of my ability.

I have come a long way in my recovery, and I have a story to tell. Trust in your voice, and tell your story. The world needs to hear it.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Bipolar Disorder

blurred lights

When Mania Gives You Too Many Good Ideas

I’m there right now, in mania. It isn’t so severe that I’m parachuting out of my office building or directing traffic stark naked, but it is there. I have the intense racing thoughts. I’m not sleeping, and I have great, I mean great, ideas. Currently, I want to build a fenced-in cat house/cage outside my [...]
little girl leaning on her mother

Trying to Look at My Mother's Mental Illness Through Adult Eyes

Growing up, my mother was larger than life and seemed forever intent to make me suffer. Her words were harsh and unloving, her approval unattainable. I’ve spent much of my life struggling to come to terms with what I, as a child, must have done wrong to incur so much wrath. What I didn’t know [...]
cinderella castle at disney world

Going to Disney World With Bipolar Disorder

In a month, I will get on an airplane and head to Orlando, Florida, and the “happiest place on Earth,” Disney World. My family of five will be going along with my wife’s family, making a grand total of 18 of us. This fact should make anyone who has gone to Disney tremble a bit, [...]
pills isolated on white background

The Side Effects of Side Effects

Side effects definition: “Problems that occur when treatment goes beyond the desired effect. Or problems that occur in addition to the desired therapeutic effect.” Um, sure. That’s the pretty way to put it. I’m not making fun, but I have to chuckle when those commercials for medications come on TV and the list of side effects they read out at [...]