How My Bipolar Diagnosis Helped Me Confront a Painful Past

I felt my walls crashing down on me the day I sat in my therapist’s office and she told me I have bipolar II. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I could have something like this; I knew I was a depressed person, but I thought that was just how some of us cynics are.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that my bipolar diagnosis would lead me to discover a painful issue which I was suppressing.

The nightmares started resurfacing — the pain and negative feelings hit me like a wave. Running away became too exhausting and my mind was forcing me to finally deal with the pain.

I decided I would have to tell my therapist my secret if I wanted a chance at survival. I spent the next five weeks in therapy not telling her my secret. I sat there with a voice in my head telling me, “Just do it, she will understand. Just do it, she will be able to help,” but nothing came out.

On the sixth week, it was different. I walked into her office and I saw a tissue box next to the sofa where I had always sat, which I never noticed before. We started the session with a mindfulness exercise and when she asked me what I was thinking about afterwards, I told her I had to cry but needed her permission first. She was stunned by my request and told me I had her permission to cry. And so I burst into a puddle of tears. Eventually when I calmed down a bit, I managed to somehow force myself to say the dreadful words I never wanted to hear come out of me: “I was sexually assaulted by a male friend when I was a teen.” I left the session shortly after she told me I took a major step in my recovery and that she was proud of my bravery.

Due to my dissociation which lasted for a decade, I went through a personal hell with anxiety and depression, and pushed everyone away. The stress and post-traumatic stress disorder even triggered my first hypomanic episode. My anger, irritability and general negativity about life saw no bounds. I hated myself for too long, and my subconscious told me it was my fault because I was drunk that night and complied fearfully.

I never thought I would confront my issue, let alone write about it. But in light of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April), I want survivors to try their best to tell someone about the sexual trauma they have been through — we are seeking validation, and we deserve it. It gets so much better knowing someone is listening and acknowledging our struggle; we didn’t deserve the pain and surely don’t deserve to live with it alone for the rest of our lives.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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

Thinkstock photo via Archv

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Bipolar Disorder

red moon with clouds and stars

Using the Moon Analogy to Explain My Bipolar Disorder

I go through phases. It’s really more like cycling, to be honest. I just hate the idea of that because it makes me sound “crazier,” and I’m already “crazy” enough. If I say they’re phases, then I sound more like the moon. In my life, I have four phases. I like to keep things simple, [...]
support group with people holding hands together

How People With Bipolar Disorder Are Like a Family

Hello, I’m Anna and I have bipolar disorder. I’ve been involved in support groups for over a year now. At the group, we introduce ourselves by our name and diagnosis. At first, I felt a little uncomfortable with it. Why am I defining myself by my diagnosis? But now I like it. By sharing our diagnoses, [...]
Pretty woman with a tattoo

7 Unhelpful Things People Say About My Bipolar Diagnosis

It has been almost two years since I was diagnosed with schizoaffective bipolar type, ADHD and generalized panic disorder. I can be pretty open about mental health and my diagnosis. However, I almost never share the more extreme parts of my illness, or I hide it completely due to the stigmas attached to it. I [...]
beautiful girl with long hair and tattoo - flower

How I Ruined an Important Friendship While Manic

My teen years were pretty awful. Struggling with mental illness, especially bipolar disorder, took a great toll on me, my family and many around me. There were many moments I look back on and cringe, wince and desperately wish to forget. Many of those moments were when I was experiencing a manic episode. I sit and wonder. Why [...]