woman looking out the window on a rainy day

I am trapped inside my mind. I shout. I rebel. I long for expression. Yet, I sit silent. My words, my connection, with you is severed. I don’t think this is my fault. You see, I need you to hear me. My voice, well, has “left the building.” My bipolar depression has wrapped itself around me. I am muffled at best.

The world spins. Days rise and set. I sit. Staring at the wall. Resting.

Movement is slow and overwhelming. Getting out of bed is an accomplishment. Brushing my teeth over the top. Accolades do not resonate. Guilt hangs on my chest.

Why can’t I do more? Go to work? Cook a simple meal? Even think about making coffee? I’m so exhausted. Yet, I haven’t actually moved in days.

I left messages with my boss, with my therapist, with my psychiatrist. Not necessarily in that order. Explaining. Maybe it mostly sounded like excuses. The honesty I exuded was painful then. Admitting my cognition, stamina and memory was compromised took all I had.

However, really looking back, it was probably obvious to others. I was barely hanging on. My face often flush, looking hung over. Raw. Fragile. The hangover was from emotion, floods of tears and uncertainty. White knuckling a mood disorder.

The darkness has moved in. Rented space without a lease. I didn’t know it was coming, and I don’t know when it would leave. Scary synopsis for a person with bipolar disorder. The reality of daylight savings time has me quivering. Bold black night greeting me at 5 p.m. It affects me, deeply.

My action plan, if I can muster the energy? Walk in the midday sunlight. Big cleansing breaths with sun on my face. Quiet time in the holiday craze. If that’s not possible, then I steal just five minutes here and there. I have a Youtube video with a song called “Breathe” I listen to in headphones. Just me and the music. It’s a reminder and a reprieve at the same time.

Fall is a time of beauty. A cleansing as the rains come. For me personally, it’s a time to really take notice of my internal clock. My tolerance or intolerance of noise, light and crowds. As the leaves change, so does my mood. Historically speaking, I’m vulnerable this time of year. Armed with this information, I can do my best to manage all that comes.

Image via Thinkstock.

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Although a quote itself can’t lift you up from a dark depression or keep you steady during a bad episode of mania, words do have the power to keep us grounded — if only for a moment — and at the very least offer us some hope. To find out what quotes helped people who live with bipolar disorder, we asked people in our mental health community tell us one quote that helps them get through tough times.

Here’s what they had to say: 

1. “Happiness can be found in e the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”– Albus Dumbledore from “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Submitted by Alexis D.: “I know it is difficult to see the good in the bad, but it helps to try.”

2. “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” — from Les Misérables

Submitted by Kaitlin C: “I got these lyrics tattooed on my arm as a constant reminder that it will get better.” 

3. “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” — Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Submitted by Rebekah B.

4. “You wake up every morning to fight the same demons that left you so tired the night before, and that, my love, is bravery.” — Quietly I Will Not Tumblr page 

Submitted by Sara K.

5. “This pain is part of being human… the fact that you can feel pain like this is your greatest strength.” –Albus Dumbledore from “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”

Submitted by Gates P.

6. “You don’t have to feel like a waste of space. You’re original, cannot be replaced. If you only knew what the future holds. After a hurricane comes a rainbow” – “Firework” by Katy Perry

Submitted by Heather B.

7. “You’re a hurricane of a girl; remember to breathe every once and a while. Do not drown within your own storm.” – Emma Bleker

Submitted by Loren N.

8. “The devil whispered in my ear, ‘You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.’ Today I whispered in the devils ear, ‘I am the storm.’ — Unknown 

Submitted by Camila A.

9. “It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.” — Sam from “The Two Towers”

Submitted by Adrianna S.

10. “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” — Albus Dumbledore from “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 

Submitted by Jenn R.

11. “Oh be calm. Be calm. I know you feel like you are breaking down. Oh I know that it gets so hard sometimes, Be calm. Take it from me, I’ve been there a thousand times. You hate your pulse because it still thinks you’re alive And everything’s wrong. It just gets so hard sometimes. Be calm. — “Be Calm” by fun.

Submitted by Amanda M.

12. “I know this transformation is painful, but you’re not falling apart; you’re just falling into something different, with a new capacity to be beautiful.” — William C. Hannan

Submitted by Heather L.

13. “Fight it / Take the pain ignite it / Tie a noose around your mind / Loose enough to breathe fine / And tie it to a tree / Tell it you belong to me / This ain’t a noose this is a leash and I have news for you you must obey me.” — “Holding on to You” by twenty one pilots

Submitted by Rachel M.: “I’ve always loved these twenty one pilots’ lyrics. When I’m in my darkest of places it gives me power to fight and live another day.”

14. “Nothing hurt, and everything was beautiful.” — “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut

Submitted by Chantel P.: “It reminds me to fight for the times where everything is beautiful, even if it’s only for a moment.”

15. “This too shall pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it’ll pass.” — Unknown

Submitted by Allison V.

16. “I see the sun, and if I don’t see the sun, I know it’s there. And there’s a whole life in that, in knowing that the sun is there.” — Froyder Dostoyevsky

Submitted by Selena G.

17. “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

Submitted by Christan A.

18. “Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forgot, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim” — Tyler Knott Gregson

Submitted by Nicole B.

19. “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” — “Shake It Off” by Florence & the Machine

Submitted by Jelena V.

What you you add?

I’ve wanted to share my story for quite some time, but I’ve been super nervous. I’ve been second guessing myself (it’s what I do best) because part of me feels like my story isn’t going to be good enough to be seen by other people, and then the other part of me is like “heck yes! I can do this!” So here it goes!

Being diagnosed with ADHD when I was 12, and then years later being diagnosed with anxiety, bipolar disorder and depression, finally helped me understand the war I was battling. That war I battle is in my own mind. Sometimes I come out on top, and other times I lose to the depression, anxiety and bipolar. Just because I sometimes “lose” to my illnesses doesn’t mean I am a weak person, it just means my armor wasn’t all the way protective against certain aspects. Even though I take medication and try my best to be proactive in defeating the war that is my mental illness, some days are bad days and some are good days. Medication doesn’t magically rewire my thought process, but it helps “knock off the edge.”

Medication has always had a bad rep when it comes to mental illness. People refer to it as “crazy pills” and sometimes I joke back with them, depending on who they are, because I can do that. Sometimes I snap at people and tell them, no, you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. But without my medication, I don’t feel “normal.” Without it my brain runs 100 miles a minute, I get super pissy and even more emotional than usual. I don’t like the person I am when I’m off it. And plus, it’s not healthy for me to not have it, or skip doses. I let my mental illnesses control me and it’s scary.

When I was younger, it was hard coping with my mind because I didn’t know a lot about the type of mental illnesses I was diagnosed with. But as I’ve gotten older, I have learned a lot through researching, reading and experiencing a lot of things. Like when I was younger, I turned to self-harm. I can honestly say I never wanted to cut to kill myself (although I thought about dying every day), I just wanted the numbness to go away. I wanted to feel something other than “nothing.” It’s been a couple of years since I actually self-harmed, but I still crave the feeling sometimes. I crave to feel something when I feel nothing at all. For me, it’s an addiction. That’s what your mind wants you to think. It wants you to think you need to self-harm because no one loves you, you’re not good enough, you’re a failure. But that’s not true.

I know what is true, though. I know I am loved, I am not a failure and that I am good enough. I know I can and will get through my bad days. And I will cherish my good days. Everything will fall into place and make sense one day, and I just need to keep trucking along. And here’s something else too. It’s OK to talk about mental illness. It’s OK to talk about the scary stuff, the good, bad and ugly stuff when it comes to mental illness.

Here’s my advice: It’s OK to be afraid to talk about what’s going on in one’s mind, but nonetheless people need to talk about it. Find someone who you trust wholeheartedly, and tell them what’s going on. Or you can even go to online to a crisis hotline and tell them if you don’t feel comfortable telling anyone else. Someone is always always going to be there for you. And in the end you will feel better about it, and you will be glad you did.

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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I have bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed about two years ago, but I’ve been living with symptoms of this disorder for most of my life. Since my diagnosis, I’ve seen a lot of misconceptions out there about it. There are a lot of things I wish I could share with people to tell them about what it’s really like living with this disorder.

But there’s one thing in particular I really need you to understand about mental illness:

It’s hard. Living with bipolar disorder is hard for me.

Living with any mental illness can be hard. Living with any illness at all can be hard. Living can be hard sometimes.

But I need you to understand that life is really genuinely hard for me some days (actually, a lot of days). I spend a lot of time trying to explain that I can live a “normal” life despite living with mental illness. I spend a lot of time trying to explain that people who have bipolar disorder are not “crazy.” And even though these things are true, at the end of the day, I struggle a lot.

I’m not telling you this because I want your pity. In fact, please don’t pity me. I’m telling you this because sometimes I feel incredibly broken, and I require a lot of support and love from other people. Sometimes I need a little extra affirmation in my existence. Sometimes it takes everything in me to just keep on living, and in those moments, I need the most support.

So please understand that some days I can barely get out of bed, much less function at school or work or in social settings. Some days are just really hard. And it’s on those days that I need you the most.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our 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.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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Editor’s note: The following originally appeared on the writer’s Facebook page.

I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever posted anything on Facebook. I’m not exactly sure why I chose today, but here goes. I don’t think anyone will actually read this so I guess I don’t really have anything to lose.

The world can be a cruel place. God, if you believe in God, can play devastating tricks on people. There are many debilitating diseases out there that affect millions of people every day. People suffer endlessly, people die painfully and all the while their loved ones suffer as they watch the inevitable happen. They watch as cruel fate destroys life. They watch as love and happiness crumble into darkness and death.

I believe the ultimate cruelty, however, lies in the silent suffering. The disease you can’t see. The disease that creeps in without warning and slowly, methodically and inevitably kills you from the inside, deep within the depths of your brain. Without explanation, without prejudice and without mercy it consumes you, paralyzing you, forever changing you. Your mind becomes a dictator and you are powerless to stop it.

My name is Chad and I am bipolar. I have been for most of my life. I knew at a very young age that there was something “wrong” with me. I had wild mood swings that left me sobbing uncontrollably one minute, then to uncontrollable rage the next. Alcohol and a litany of drugs were a constant in my life from the time I was 14. “Self-medication” was all I knew. I couldn’t control my mind or my thoughts by myself, but when you are a teenager, what else can you do? I wanted to die, but I couldn’t bring myself to suicide at that young age, so I did incredibly reckless things to hopefully do it for me. That is for another story. It didn’t work.

I am 43 years old now. I have been to dozens of doctors, therapists and psychiatrists. I have been on just about every medication there is. I have experienced every up, every down and every gut-wrenching side affect imaginable. I have been hospitalized, poked, prodded, tested and humiliated. And yet, after all that, here I still am, hopelessly broken, sad, exhausted, alone in my struggle, still wanting to die every day, just like when I was a teenager, just to get some peace. It’s never ending. It’s relentless.

So what is this all about you ask? This is not a cry for help. I am way beyond that. This is to let you know each and every one of you, whether you know it or not, has a friend, has a family member, has someone out there who is struggling — and they desperately need someone to reach out to them. It doesn’t take much, only a few seconds, just to say, “Are you OK?” Three simple words can make all the difference.

Lately, it seems to be a fashionable thing for celebrities to come forward and talk about their private struggles with mental illness. I think that is great. Breaking down the stigma and shame of mental illness should be on the forefront of the American conversation.

I am not a celebrity. I am a regular person who has a voice and I have something important to say — a desperate plea for everyone reading this to share this with anyone who will listen. If you are struggling, you are not alone. Reach out to someone, anyone, just do it. If you know someone who is struggling or you think might be, reach out to him or her today, you just might save a life.

Suicide is devastating, there is no question. For those left behind there are only unanswered questions and hurt feelings. So often we hear “I had no idea.” Take it from someone who has made the conscious decision to take their own life, only to be brought back and given a second chance. In that desperate moment, when all is lost, we are not ending it all to spite the people who will be left behind, we make that decision because we no longer want to hurt the people who are watching us suffer the most. We want to give them a reprieve from the pain and anguish that lingers day after day in the depths of despair and depression. It’s the only way. It’s an awful choice. Just imagine thinking that death is a better option than life. 

I would like to thank anyone who is still reading this. If you take only one thing from this, remember just because someone has a mental illness doesn’t mean they are any less of a human being. You don’t have to be ashamed or embarrassed. You don’t have to struggle alone, you don’t need to be afraid and you don’t have to be silent anymore. 

Life is filled with endless possibilities. We all have our own path. Take the time to make a difference in someone’s life if you have the chance. There is truly nothing that is more rewarding.

Since this is social media, go ahead and share this, get the word out there. This story is not over by any means, it has only just begun.

My name is Chad. I am bipolar. I am no longer ashamed. For many years I have not been afraid to die. I can now honestly say that I am no longer afraid to live.

Thank you.

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Sometimes I wonder if my life is real. Especially when I’m feeling up. I question if it’s all a fantasy. Is my perspective really in line with reality?

I’m planning to quit my job. I’m sacrificing a bit of security, in that throughout the last four years I’ve had numerous hospitalization and taken countless days off. Twice, since May 2013, I have taken two extended leaves lasting three months. It might help that I’ve been at my job 17 years and have been a “model” employee. My perfectionism, workaholism and the fact my identity is wrapped up in my work probably played a major role.

I have two job opportunities in the proverbial hopper. I think they are legit. But, I fear they are not. My anxiety certainly tells me they are not. Paranoia creeps in and I think a new place of work can’t handle my “issues.” Should I be transparent and divulge I have bipolar disorder now? Should I wait? Should I just close my eyes and hope for the best?  Everything is uncertain. I don’t do well with that. It’s fodder for my restless brain.

I do feel like I know my current work situation is not healthy for me. It’s taken me a long time to admit that. I always thought it was my fault I would become overly stressed and symptoms would arise. Turns out with bipolar disorder I am more susceptible to stress, which in turn can trigger either mania or depression. I can attest to both. I’ve reached heights of psychosis that were terrible frightening and lows of depression that were devastating. 

I think it’s important to acknowledge I have to do my part. Utilize coping skills, communicate with my treatment team and take my medication. But, there is also a point where raising the white flag makes sense. Self-care and self-compassion need a place in my life. I can push and push. Pull and pull. Demand I do better. Work harder. Not allow stress to overtake me. But, there’s reality.

I am stressed. I am exhibiting symptoms despite my best efforts. Sure there will always be ups and downs, I’m the first to utter those words… damn roller coaster. But, if I can help myself avoid peaks and valleys, shouldn’t I at least try? If it turns out no matter what I do, this is my lot, this is my coaster… well, that’s for another day.

So, as I envision turning in my resignation letter, it’s bittersweet. I literally grew up at this agency. It was my first career-type job. I was a young, naive 25 with a heart of gold ready to solve the issues that plague social service agencies. I was going to be the best social worker they had ever seen. I’ve made my mark. It’s time to move on and put myself first. 

The hopper I mentioned is as real as it gets. I’ve put myself out there. Maybe it’s a fantasy I get hired, maybe not. It’s a resolution I find a new place for myself in 2017. I listen to my needs. Make time for self-care and self-compassion. Honor myself in a way I never have before. I’m going to let that unfold as it may. No expectations, just intentions this year.

Dancing with bipolar disorder can be exhilarating, fun, devastating, confusing, uncertain… but it’s definitely real. One step at a time. One day at a time. I’ll keep moving forward down the line.

Happy New Year to The Mighty Community I so cherish.

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