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My Bipolar Disorder Is Like a Funhouse

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When I was diagnosed at 18, my bipolar disorder became the main attraction of my life. It became the funhouse at the carnival, with bright colors and loud music that is impossible to ignore. I am now 24, and am stuck inside the funhouse. The medication and therapy haven’t been enough to open the door and let me out. So I keep walking in circles inside the funhouse, going in and out of every room over and over.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

And the first place I always end up is the hall of mirrors.

The funhouse mirrors are oddly shaped and show a distorted image of whatever is seen inside them. When I look into the mirrors, I don’t see what I thought I looked like. Depending on my mood, I see myself differently, and in an unrealistic way. When I’m depressed, the mirrors make me look fat, ugly and worthless. When I experience hypomania, the mirrors inflate my self-esteem and give me a fake sort of confidence that makes me change my appearance and my attitude. With my distorted self-image in tow, I move onto the next room and the next unpleasant part of my bipolar disorder.

The funhouse has a slide that is two stories tall, with twists and turns and a ball pit at the bottom. During a hypomanic episode, I’m at the top of the slide, excited and enthusiastic about the fun I’m about to have. It’s short lived, and sooner than I think, I am on the way down, plummeting into depression. I land in the ball pit, which is hard to wade through, like my emotions when I’m depressed. I trip and fall continuously, until I reach the edge of the pit, where I slowly pull myself out onto the cold floor, and start to feel normal again. From the slide, I move onto the slow spinning disk, where my moods and emotions turn around and around.

The spinning disk does its job, it spins me around in a continuous circle of emotion until I’m dizzy and fall down. While on the disk, I constantly lose my balance, and my bipolar disorder does the same. My moods are never even, and I am constantly either up or down, until I ultimately fall on my face. Balance is not something I know much about, I just know my bipolar disorder is dizzying, and the spinning makes me sick to my stomach.

My bipolar disorder is like a funhouse, and I’m stuck inside. I haven’t figured out a way to get out or a way to deal with being inside. I don’t want to, but I feel like I just need to accept where my bipolar disorder has me. I know there is a way out of this carnival attraction, but I am too tired to find it. So, I’ll stay in the funhouse, until the day I have enough energy to get out of the funhouse and go on with my life.

Originally published: July 26, 2016
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