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To the People Who Judge My Bipolar Disorder

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

I am bipolar.

But what does that mean? And more importantly, what does that look like?

• What is Bipolar disorder?

It looks like me: tall, long blonde hair, obnoxious laugh, successful at her career and the comic relief in any situation. Insert all your stigmas here of what you thought it looked like. Please stop jumping to your own conclusions and let me tell you my story before you go judging my disorder.

Bipolar disorder has made me, me. My body doesn’t like to stay balanced. I go from one extreme to the other in seconds. On the outside, it looks like motivation and success; to me, it feels like I’m loosing hold of reality. In theory, roller-coasters are fun right? Not when your not properly buckled in and your holding on for life. It’s a depiction that is seldom told, it’s a feeling I experience more than I care too.

I can’t say I’m a thrill seeker. If I did, that would be a lie. The way my body throws me through the loops of this ride makes me feel unsteady and sick. It shoots me up, but without giving my body time to adjust, it tears me back down. When I’m down, I’m out. Im so low my loved ones can’t reach me. I lose all form of communication. The whiplash, the insanity — it hurts — my body hurts. It takes all that I am to open my eyes and keep going. This isn’t some melodramatic pull, some line to evoke pity from you. I’m writing to you now because I’m in line, a moment of calm, waiting to jump back on the roller-coaster that is my disorder. I’m lucid and you should know.

You hear bipolar and you think manic. I am — I’m manic depressive. To me, it’s defined as long durations of darkness. The world has a hazy filter surrounding it and I am slowly moving through my life. Depression hurts. Not just physically, which is incredibly painful, but others as well. I withdraw, I disappear, I scare everyone that is close to me, but I don’t care. It’s selfish and it’s overwhelming, but it’s what happens when I am imbalanced.

You see, for a years I let your stigmas get to me. I felt the pressure of the world and I was ashamed of who I was. I heard everyone, even my family and friends, talk negatively about medications or the diagnosis I received when I was 18. 18 year olds were supposed to be going off to college, not taking their own life. I couldn’t explain the chaos in me, the burn that was deep inside. My arms, my legs, my heart, my chest — they all ached with anxiety. I snapped.

Snapping looks like white walls, paper cups full of pills and supervised showers. Not memories I’m particularly fond of keeping. No matter how many blankets I asked for at night, I never felt warm in there. The icy interior of everyone else’s pain. Just old enough to be considered an adult, but too young to be surrounded by the enormity of other peoples reality. I sat quiet, I took my pills and I waited for answers. Then I got the diagnosis slapped on me and my manila folder became my identity.

It was not one I was proud of. I hid it from the world, I hid it from my friends, my family; my “reality” I fought so hard to be something else. After years of losing an endless battle, I caved and got off my medications. It was becoming harder and harder to hide who I was and it felt like the world was catching on. It wasn’t until I woke up in my own blood and vomit that I knew I needed more help. Laying there covered in my own shame wanting to take my life again, I decided I was done.

As much as my depression told me I wasn’t strong enough, as much as the mania threw me around, I found my legs and I stood up and I cried for help. I wasn’t done living, although some nights it felt like I was overdue. I was done being something I wasn’t. So in that moment, in all its disgusting glory, I accepted who I was.

It took me almost a decade to be proud of who I am, and damnit I’m proud. I love more than most, because my emotions are a little unbalanced. But I also fight what I am passionate about more than most, and that makes me loyal and fierce. I’m empathic and compassionate, and hold on to my relationships with a white-knuckled grip. Those closest to me might get the bad, but they also get the good; someone who will love them for their entirety because I know what it felt like not to feel loved. It brought me peace to know I am just me, and a lot of people really turned out to like me.

It’s easy to let this world fool you. Just look at social media. I perpetuate the cycle — I only post the happy and leave the dark spells out of my feed. But the truth is, nowadays, I have more good days than bad, and that could just be a cycle in my life, but I’m taking it in. I cherish each and every memory because I am still making them, and even three months ago I didn’t think I would be.

This roller-coaster can be manageable if you let me buckle in right and you come along for the ride. So please hear my story and take it for what it is — my truth. That although I am blessed, I’m still struggling. And although all I needed was my own acceptance, your grace would be appreciated.

It took me a lot to write this, but if it helps just one person, than I’m alright. I felt this weight to tell my story so it might reach others and change the way you view this disorder. I am strong, I am enough and I do not need anyones validation. But compassion in times of need will always be appreciated.

Always keep fighting.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Getty image via Andesign101 

Originally published: November 30, 2017
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