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Why It’s OK That You Can’t Help Me Through My Bipolar II Episodes

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Bipolar II.

That’s what I have, what I live with, what I have lived with for the past two years and will live with for the remainder of my life. Most of the time, it’s not so bad. Most of the time, I am OK. I am disconnected from it. It doesn’t permeate my thoughts. I have other things on my mind.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

I’m 20 years old. I think about 20-year-old things. Jobs. What my friends are doing. Just what it is I want to do with my life.Sure, there are reminders of it here and there: medication taken in the morning, targeted advertising on Facebook, a character trait in a movie. But for the most part, it’s not so bad. I don’t cope with the mania sometimes experience with Bipolar I, rather a milder version. Mostly, I cope with periods of deep depression. Regardless, for the most part, I am stable.

However, sometimes it is bad. Sometimes, it’s terrible. Sometimes, it’s all I think about. Sometimes, I’m not OK.

I have wonderful, supportive parents and friends. They’ve kept me going throughout everything; through the misdiagnoses, the different medications that demanded playing a little game called  “wheel of side effects” — what will I get when I spin the wheel? Will I get lucky and land on a blank space? And the headache inducing washout periods. They’ve kept me going through the doctors appointments and psychologist appointments. They’ve kept be going through the dark thoughts, dragging me through into the light.

They’ve kept me going through it all.

At some point, they’ve all asked the same question: “How can I help?”

I’ve responded the same way to each person: “You can’t.”

I am not being difficult. I am not being dramatic, nor cryptic. I am telling the truth as it is for me. That’s how it is — I can’t be helped. There is nothing to be done. My pain is internal and there isn’t anything external that can help.

Here’s another truth: that’s OK. It’s OK that they can’t help. I try to emphasize this as much as possible, to assure them. It’s OK that they can’t ease or cure my depression.

That might be painful or confusing or frustrating. I can understand that. It would be painful to not be able to help someone you care about. It would be confusing when there’s no solution when we’ve been told that there’s a solution for everything. It would be frustrating because you just want things to be calm for your loved one. That’s natural.

I wanted to use this space not just to tell a small portion of my own story, but to assure who have a loved one who’s like me, or dealing with a different mental illness — I want to tell you that it’s OK.

When your loved one is unwell and they tell you that there’s nothing you can do to help, know that it isn’t your fault. Know that it’s OK. Know that their pain is internal. All you need to do is be. Be there for them and understand as best you can. Be as supportive as you’ve always been. Listen. Don’t fret. They love you, and the last thing they want is to see you upset. Just be.

Because it’s OK.

Thinkstock photo via MatiasEnElMundo

Originally published: August 8, 2017
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