I roll over lazily and look at the time on the alarm clock: 1:30 a.m.
I had only been asleep for an hour, yet surprisingly, feel I am ready to get up and start my day. I fight this energetic high and snuggle back into my sheets. My mind races with everything under the sun from my recent breakup with a boyfriend, to what I would want to name a fish if I got one, to how terrible of a person I am.
Gently, after about an hour of this, my eyes flutter closed and drift me back to a land where my thoughts can’t reach me. When I awake I think I surely slept through the rest of the night. Roll over. Clock. 3:30 a.m.
“What is wrong with you?” hisses the dark, black voice in the depths of my being. “You’re pathetic.”
This time I give in and get up to do my morning routine. Makeup complete with sparkles and blue lipstick to match my mood, shine on my face. Satisfied with the spunky look, I glance towards the clock again: 4:30 a.m.
There is nothing open or fun to do at this time in the morning so I float towards the kitchen to do some cleaning. I find that almost everything is spotless from the energy I had the night before. Time: 5:15 a.m. Ah! Finally! My favorite coffee shop down the road is opening in 15 minutes! Tiredness from the lack of sleep the night before never fills my chest. I am wide awake.
Dr. B., as I fondly referrer to him, looks at me over his clipboard that holds all of my medical records.
“How are you?” he begins.
“Oh! Good! I feel really good,” I assure him.
“Liz, I notice you haven’t been reporting much sleep. Tell me about that.”
“Well, I just don’t feel tired,” I shrug.
He nods then scribbles a few more things on the board.
“Liz, I’m going to diagnosis you,” he states matter-of-factly.
“Oh. Uh. Well, I feel fine, Dr. B.”
“I know, and that’s what I am concerned about. It seems you have been especially hyper and this is curious to me. I have seen no other emotion from you except cheerfulness. You seem to get along with everyone very well, and when you talk to me you are almost tripping over your words you talk so fast. Would you agree with me?” he asks.
“Well, yes,” I start, “But I don’t really feel like that’s a problem. I like feeling this way.”
“Liz, I know that you are bipolar,” he says boldly. “Have you ever heard of that? I very much believe you are hypomanic right now and that explains all the symptoms I just stated,” he continues.
“Bipolar? Manic? Those are crazy words! You are crazy,” yells the voice in my head.
I don’t want to admit that it very much describes me. Can I really be these things he is diagnosing me with? Only out of control people have bipolar disorder, I think. Only “crazy” people are manic. What is hypomania anyway? This is a big scary word. Surely it doesn’t portray who I am. …Right?
World Bipolar Day has inched its way into my heart and created a passion that I must share with the world. I bought into the stereotypes surrounding bipolar disorder when I was first diagnosed, but have come to realize how liberating the diagnosis is. No longer do I have wild highs or deep lows, but rather have a name for my mood swings. And because of this I have been given the right medication and treatment. Bipolar disorder doesn’t have to be a life sentence: there is help and relief. Today especially I am grateful for those who have supported me along my journey and for the professionals who have worked diligently to help me get better.
Today is a wonderful day to fight stigmas and the marginalization of fellow people. We are not crazy or to be feared: we are loving human beings learning to navigate the world through a lens of mental illness. I will keep fighting and hope you will, too.
Happy World Bipolar Day, friends.
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Thinkstock photo via kotoffei