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Why I'm Finally Acknowledging My Bipolar Disorder

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Today I am hurting because of you. Today, like many days before it, you have caused me unbearable pain, to the point I was surprised I did not break. I spend days being ashamed of you, hiding you behind nice clothes and cheery laughter, afraid the word “bipolar” would scare even the bravest of souls. I lie about you, say I have beaten you and you will never haunt me again. I say you were a phase and I pretend I have never even heard of you before, let alone experienced the internal struggle you cause.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

But the truth is, you have not gone anywhere. Today you are more noticeable to me than on other days. But even on the brightest of days you still hide deep inside of me. By ignoring you and pretending you do not exist, I am doing myself more harm than good and today I realized that. Whenever I act as though you are not a part of my life — even when you are quiet — I’m actually just showing others I do not need help with something like you. And then when you are loud, they get confused and scared. They do not know how to handle me when you’re grasping my feelings and I never told them what to do because I was too busy pretending I never had you in the first place. But it is not only others who are affected when I hide you away. Every time I have a bad day, I feel ashamed because I had convinced myself this time things were different, that this time you would not return.

I think I hide you because I’m scared. As a child, all of my friends and I had dreams of our futures, of things like marriage and jobs and families. You were not part of my future back then. Now when I picture meeting someone and falling in love, I have to think about how I will have to explain you to them. My biggest fear is they will run away, and yet I’m also scared they will stay. I think to myself, perhaps if I pretend you are not as bad as you are, they will love me. And yet, I think I am undeserving of love because of you and therefore I must scare anyone away with warnings and stories about my worst days until they run and never look back.

It is not that I hate myself. No, I simply hate living with you. I hate seeing the sadness on my mother’s face when she realizes you have not gone away like it may have seemed. I start to cry when I think about the pain I have put others through because of you. I have so much guilt, so much shame to be living with you and I feel undeserving and unlovable because of that. But how do I not feel guilty about you?

No one ever seems to be optimistic about you. I must admit it is hard for me to ever be optimistic when it comes to you, but I am sick of hearing of what I can’t do. Everywhere I turn I seem to stumble upon article after article on how I should never have kids, how I will never be able to fully love my significant other and so much more. It makes it hard to see I can live with you and be happy and content with my life. And part of changing this negative stigma starts with me.

So what do I do with you? You are the source of my pain and agony, day after day. But you are also part of me. When will I realize perhaps it is time to stop being ashamed of you? Instead of saying simply you have gone away, I should be saying you come and go as you please, but nothing lasts forever. And when you loom over me, I just need to be reminded of how soon it will be until you are gone. I can choose how I present you to the world and this will depict the amount you can impact my relationships, family and future. It is not embarrassing to have a mental illness and everyone has struggles. The day has come for me to stop hiding mine.

Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: February 3, 2017
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