My Turning Point in My Life With Bipolar Disorder
Living with high-functioning bipolar disorder for over 12 years has become routine for me. Most days, it’s the same. Get up, get dressed, go to work, come home, sit on the couch, watch TV, eat dinner, go to bed. Because my husband stays home, I don’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning when I have a depressive episode.
I’ve reached out for help from people a few times and the response is sometimes the old, “well, life sucks!” and of course, they’re right. But one day, I just got sick of hearing that and I finally became honest with myself and with everyone around me. I opened up what I had held back for 12 years. I told everyone what a day living in my brain was actually like.
It’s not about life itself but life with bipolar. Waking up and not knowing who you’re going to be that day, that hour, that minute. Not knowing if I’m going to have suicidal thoughts or thoughts about having another child, want to go back to work or start a business and never work another day in my life, cook a three-course meal or not eat the entire day. It’s lying in bed for days without showering because taking a shower takes the only energy I have left. It’s putting on a façade so everyone thinks I’m perfectly fine every single day. It’s hoping no one gets to see the “real” me because it’s terrifying and I feel like no one could possibly know how to handle that side of me. It’s acting like a professional even though I haven’t even been to a theater production. It’s having a job and not knowing when you’ll put your foot in your mouth or tell the wrong person something because your mind is racing and you can’t turn your mouth off when you want to, realizing too late when you’ve said too much. It’s letting people in who only want to use you physically and knowing that, but your mania causes you to feel the need for connection so bad you fool yourself into thinking they actually care about who you are. It’s disassociating yourself from situations so you can pretend it’s not actually happening. It’s lying, cheating, stealing, pretending. It’s creating multiple personalities to fit whatever state you are in at that time. It’s not knowing who you really are.
I have done this all alone. My “bad” brain told me to isolate myself and not let anyone in. My brain made everyone the enemy. I didn’t even tell my therapist or psychiatrist what was actually going on. My “bad” brain used my Psychology undergrad knowledge and intelligence against me. It knew if I just told them the doozies I had done, it was enough to keep me on the meds but I would still keep them far enough away so I wouldn’t get the treatment I really needed. My “bad” brain manipulated me. My “bad” brain fought against getting me the help I needed so desperately to get well and live a “normal” life. My “bad” brain taught me how to act, how to lie, how to do what I needed to do to get by for 12 years without the right medications to succeed.
Until I came upon an article here on The Mighty.
There were two small points in the article. They weren’t bulleted, bold, italicized or underlined. But they held the key to changing my entire life. I’ll bet the writer had no idea when he wrote the article that he’d be the key to my “good” brain taking over and me finally going and getting the help I needed.
1. Your brain is not always your friend.
2. Your way hasn’t worked up to this point, so maybe it’s time to let someone else take over and help.
A few days after reading the article, I did just that. I got the help I have needed and I saw things more clearly than I did before. Now, I’m working with the people I need to in order to get myself healthy. I will no longer let my “bad” brain manipulate me or my situation. I will no longer lie. I have told my parents and my friends my story. I have opened myself up to people I never thought I would and they have opened their ears, hearts, and arms to me.
I will make a difference by talking about it.
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Thinkstock image via MatiasEnElMundo