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What You Can’t See About Living With Bipolar Disorder

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There are so many things people don’t see about living with bipolar disorder.

No one sees the anguish of knowing you’re cycling and feeling helpless to stop it. No one sees the crushing weight of the depression. No one sees the drug-like euphoria of mania.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

People don’t see you curled up in a ball on the edge of your bed as you hold your pill bottle in your hand, trying to convince yourself not to take them because you just can’t take life anymore.

People don’t see the shame spiral you fall into when you wake up from the mania haze and see the path of destruction you’ve left behind.

People don’t see how deeply sorry you are and how you’d give anything to not be like this.

No one sees the difficulty of having to explain you really are sick, even though you look totally healthy. Or the shame that can come along with looking totally fine, yet being broken into a million little pieces on the inside.

People don’t see the internal struggle, the often daily internal struggle of living with this. Sometimes it feels like things will never be right. When you’re feeling great, you have to worry if it’s mania, or if it’s not mania, you’re worried about how long it’ll last. Then when you’re depressed, you have to try and hold on to the hope that there will be brighter days ahead, even though your head is messing with you and screaming that there will never be a light at the end of this tunnel.

No one sees the tears because you get tired of sharing them. No one sees the haunting sadness because you don’t want to scare people away.

People see the beautiful smile, and hear the, “I’m fine,” and leave it at that.

On the other hand, people don’t see the compassion, the sheer empathy, and the love people with bipolar disorder have for humanity.

We struggle, so we are more in tune with others’ pain and want to alleviate it.

People don’t see the absolute genius in our brains, usually because we’re too disorganized to bring it to fruition, or too scared of failure, or for any other number of reasons.

People don’t see enough stories of hope in bipolar disorder. They hear the horror stories, the untreated souls who are struggling and think that’s all that’s there.

There is hope. Medications aren’t fun, but they can bring you peace and relief from the dark roller coaster ride. Therapy can help you understand yourself better and give you practical skills to use when you’re struggling. Maybe what people need to see is how hard people with mental illness work to improve themselves.

It’s a long uphill battle sometimes, but it certainly doesn’t have to be a death sentence. And people can’t see that without help.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

Thinkstock image by agsandrew

Originally published: November 15, 2016
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