Why I'm Pledging to Be 'Real' About My Struggles With Bipolar Disorder
I like to say I’m in recovery from my bipolar disorder. I’m stable, I have a job, I take care of my family and I’m able to function somewhat successfully in society.
I’ve probably been on this glorious plateau for about two years now.
What does recovery look like? It looks like you or me, to be honest. It looks like an average Joe going to work each day. It looks like your typical mum cooking dinner for her kids. It also looks like doctor visits every month and lots of pills. It looks like long hours on the couch with a therapist.
In the midst of this recovery, I’ve been a writer, and have blogged my journey to where I am now. However, I haven’t always been honest in my writings, which is out of alignment with my core values. I believe in being authentic, and telling the real story, no matter how ugly I think it is.
I’ve been a mental health advocate for several years now, and I know people look up to me for how much I’ve overcome. And since I know this, sometimes it’s been difficult to ask for help when I’ve started to decompensate. I don’t want to look like a failure, or no longer seem like a role model.
When I’ve gone the solo route, and kept quiet about my internal struggles, shit got real, super fast. There have been times over the last five years when I’ve quit my meds cold turkey, and well, I’m sure you can guess what happened. I ended up in the hospital after a suicide attempt. There have been times when I’ve felt the darkness, which is similar to the Nothing, take over me and take away everything good I’ve ever known.
And the worst part about these struggles? I didn’t share them. I kept quiet about them, like it was something to be ashamed of. I honestly felt like a failure because I had slid backwards. There’s no logical reason for that, relapse is always a possibility with bipolar disorder.
I never shared my struggles while I was in the midst of them. I only would share once I’d recovered and was stable. I feel like this is a huge disservice to others.
I should’ve shared my struggles as they were happening. That is what an authentic person would do. People need to see the dips of mental illness just as much as they need to see the highs.
I feel I can give hope to others if I’m struggling myself, yet I continue to reach out and help others.
I’d like to make a pledge. A pledge to be more real in my writings, and more real of how I’m actually doing. It’s not fair to the people who look up to me to only see the best I have to offer. They need to see that I’m human, with fallibility, and I can fall as well.
I think it’s just as important for people to see me struggle because then they get to see me rise as I regain control of my internal demons, and take control once again.
Who will join me in pledging to be a more genuine person in regards to your mental illness? Who will be more candid about their struggles, and more open about their demons?
Now, I’m not recommending you blast your story all over the internet (unless you want to of course), because you should only share your story with the people who’ve earned the right to hear it. What I’m saying is be more open with these people. Be more open in general.
You might be surprised at the connections you make with this new level of authenticity.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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