I have managed to survive my illnesses and walk in a straighter line towards a healthier life, but people tend to forget that mental symptoms can’t be seen. I wish they could understand what it feels like to deal with being “OK.”
1. Both bipolar and borderline personality disorder (BPD) are treatable, but recovery is not a linear path.
Even though I am able to control many symptoms with daily pills, weekly individual therapy and group DBT therapy (also weekly), there are many days when I can only manage to control the weakest symptoms and the strongest “sneak” out.
Mostly during weekends and vacations, when my brain is “at rest,” anger, loneliness and reckless urges get the best of me. I may seem overreacting, bitchy, temperamental, sensitive, or (the word I hate the most) melodramatic. But, hey! Anyone can get triggered by certain environments, discussions or actions.
2. If you don’t understand, I get it, but don’t patronize me.
Even with all my research and treatment, I still can’t understand the lengths of my co-morbid illnesses. Each disorder has its own characteristics, so having them together and trying to control them is no day at the park.
When I am open about it people usually say, “You look so normal!” What does normal even mean? What I say may sound rude, but it is not. I know you want to understand, but you have never walked in my shoes, or better stated, you have never been in my head — and I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to be there.
3. Being functional doesn’t mean being cured.
I have family, some friends and a dog to fulfill my need to take care of someone after my children reached their teens.
I have a master’s degree and a good job. I’ve been a teacher for 14 years. I’ve taught in elementary and middle school, but I truly love high school and I discovered I’m good at it. Maybe my illnesses help me with the empathetic part and some people can’t understand how I do it (because of my conditions), but I love my job. I have an illness, but I’ve gotten to a place where I am highly functional (but that is another story).
4. Don’t forget who I am.
I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a cousin, a coworker, a teacher… I am a woman, who seems to be weak or strong, depending on your point of view. I know it’s difficult to remember my (invisible) condition. I am like everyone else, I just have to focus in my responsibilities to get away from the twister in my head and invalidating my feelings or emotions hurts like a punch to my face.
Even if I look better, I still have BPD and bipolar disorder. So, please remember I’m trying as hard as I can, if I mess up or I’m the mess, it will pass, and I will have to start all over again.
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