To Those I Love, This Is My Experience With Bipolar II
I’ve been posting a lot of mental health articles/images on Facebook lately and I think I should address them in a big way.
I’m bipolar II.
(Yes, Anna is bipolar II. Bring on the gossip, text your friends, screenshot this message; go on, hurry up so we can move on.)
Bipolar II, do you know it? It’s different than Bipolar I in minute ways. I don’t hallucinate and I don’t have delusions.
But if I did, I would tell you. And if you do, my heart is with you.
I do have intense mood swings. They’re unpredictable and hard to maneuver through, mostly because I don’t recognize I’m “in a mood” until it’s too late. I’m either energized and agitated or extraordinarily depressed. (They call it “manic depression” for a reason.) And then sometimes both at once.
My thoughts make me question everything.
Am I wrong? Am I right? Are these thoughts realistic? Are they unrealistic? Am I wrong? Am I right? I’m right. I must be right. Definitely right. I believe these thoughts. I am them.
Who does my brain want to be today? How am I going to feel when I wake up? I’m scared to sleep. I’m scared to wake up. Will I feel alive today? Will this be the day I can see the world in color again?
I get confused easily. I can’t stop thinking. I struggle with self-hate and self-doubt. I need to ask a lot of questions. I’m obsessed with time. I’m obsessed with a lot of things. Until I’m not. I can’t stop thinking. I talk fast and have a really hard time staying on topic. I lose my train of thought. Always. I have trust issues. I overthink everything. I overthink negative perspectives until I believe them to be true. Sometimes I can go for days with little sleep, other times I can’t get enough. I can’t stop thinking. Sometimes I can do things, sometimes I’m paralyzed by them. I act peculiar and don’t realize it. Sometimes I can’t eat. I don’t eat. I don’t want to eat. My mood swings fluctuate from allowing functionality to pulling me into the deepest sadness. A drowning sadness. I have scary thoughts. I have intrusive uncomfortable thoughts. I can’t stop thinking. I spend a lot of time feeling guilty over nothing. So guilty. I’m hopeless, often unmotivated and battling worry. I argue. I can’t stop. I get frustrated when people don’t understand my perspective. I often can’t remember my strengths. I can’t remember my accomplishments. I feel rotten. I feel like I’m rotting. I’m irritable and snappy. And I can’t stop thinking. Cyclical obsessive thoughts. Thoughts, and thoughts and thoughts, until those thoughts change to new thoughts, thoughts and thoughts.
I cannot stop thinking.
This is not me.
I do not want pity. I just want you to know.
I have struggled with anxiety since I was a toddler and depression since middle school. This is not something new for me, nor is therapy, nor is medication, nor is lack of knowledge about mental health. But this darkness is something renewed as of the past few years and it continues to grow stronger and continues to try to knock me down.
I am not one to be messed with. But somehow this illness can.
Hypomania, do you know it? If it doesn’t bring on extreme agitation and irritability, it’s about as close to feeling good as I can get without some sort of additional stimuli. Welcoming it is not recommended. I will welcome it every time. These are rare, bittersweet moments of “maybe I can do this.”
I can do this. We can do this.
Note to self: stop forgetting.
But who does my brain want to be today? How am I going to feel when I wake up? I’m scared to sleep. I’m scared to wake up. Will I feel alive today? Will this be the day I can see the world in color again?
It’s so hard to explain that I know every single one of you is there for me and yet I feel completely, wholeheartedly alone. But aren’t we all…?
There is so much love holding me up but in this fog, sometimes I can’t see it. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate you. Every one of you. That doesn’t mean I don’t know you’re there. That doesn’t mean I don’t remember every single one of you who has ever encouraged me, sat with me, texted me, reached out to me, told me they appreciated me. It just means that sometimes I’m so far gone that my subconscious can’t care. I, me, Anna, cares, but sometimes I just can’t remember how.
It’s like there are two of me in here and one is trying to snuff the other. It won’t.
Sometimes I can “do” family gatherings. Sometimes I can be social. Sometimes I can talk to strangers and drive long distances and visit noisy places packed with people and go to work in the morning without worrying if the phone will ring. Other times I can’t leave my bedroom, I panic, I flee, I feel guilty, I feel so, so guilty because I can’t live up to my desired potential. Because right now I feel I can’t possibly reciprocate the love that has been shown to me when I needed it most.
(Proof that an act of kindness can make another person’s world, because it can. Side note: do something nice for someone today, yeah?)
I don’t want pity. I just want you to know. I don’t want you to think I don’t love you and I don’t care.
I love you. And I care. And because of all of this, I care even more.
I’m just struggling to stay afloat right now.
And I will.
But there are days where I can’t move, I can’t breathe, my body physically hurts, I ache, I’m weepy, there’s a pressure on my chest, a lack of hope and my legs can hardly hold my weight. I can’t imagine another second in this dark place where I have sunken so deep even the sun cannot reach me. I can’t imagine living with this for the rest of my life. I can’t imagine experiencing these mood swings for the rest of my life.
Some days I can climb the walls, my insides scratch and scrape at my skin, I shake uncontrollably, I scream in my head and scream some more because — oh my god, oh my god I have to get out of this body, so much adrenaline, adrenaline, agitation, anxiousness, anxiousness, I want to burst, to run, to run away, to run and never stop running, maybe just for a moment of clarity, for a moment where maybe the depression, the anxiety, it won’t be able to keep up with me.
But it does.
I promise you somewhere inside of this body there is me. Can you hear me? I’m screaming. I’m screaming so loud and I won’t stop until one day I will scream through the darkness and will find my way through this convoluted labyrinth and I will master this disorder and I will learn to be me again.
And until then I will fight.
And I will do things that make me uncomfortable. And I will do my “homework,” and I will commit to me and I will commit to life.
Every day, every minute, every second. It’s mindfulness, it’s reading and practicing. It’s finding ways to cope and it’s trying so damn hard to remember that I’m worth it.
You’re worth it. I’m worth it. All of this is worth it. Even a life of uncertainty; that’s worth it, too.
One day I will see life in color again.
Please do not worry about me. Please do not pity me. Please do not take this as a cry for help or attention. Please just know. And please don’t treat me differently. My friends deserve to know – and those who can relate, they should know too.
We are alone, but we are not alone.
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Thinkstock photo via Stefana Lapadat