Christina Bockisch

@cbockisch | contributor
Christina Bockisch is a passionate advocate for mental health and believes that sharing her story is the best way to help break the stigma surrounding mental illness. She frequently writes about living with bipolar II disorder, anxiety, panic disorder, OCD, PTSD and an eating disorder on her blog, www.fightforbettertomorrows.com
Community Voices

Would you rather be able to speak every language or talk to animals?

<p>Would you rather be able to speak every language or talk to animals?</p>
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Community Voices

For Those Moments When You Feel Like Giving Up

Hey you,

I know you’re hurting. And I know you’ve been hurting for a while. You’ve taken it day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute for a long time now. And you’re tired. So tired. Tired of feeling this awful, tired of fighting so hard and tired of feeling like it’s never going to get better.

I know you’re frustrated. You struggle to get out of bed, change your clothes, take a shower, clean your room, do the dishes, go to work and be productive. All the things that are so easy for everyone else have suddenly become some of your biggest struggles. And it’s not fair. You didn’t ask for this.

I know you’ve hit rock bottom, and you’ve been there for some time now. I’m not going to tell you “the only place you can go from here is up,” because I know you don’t believe that. But what I will tell you is that it’s not always going to be this way. You won’t sit at rock bottom forever even if you can’t see it just yet.

I know you don’t want to die. You want so desperately to live, but you also want the pain to stop. You need the pain to stop. It physically hurts to live through this much pain. And you feel like dying is the only way to make it all go away.

I know you feel trapped inside your own mind and suffocated by the pain. Your brain is supposed to keep you alive. It’s supposed to remind you to eat, to breathe, to move. But you feel like your brain is slowly killing you, and it’s frustrating.

I also know your brain is feeding you lies. It tells you that you don’t matter. That you’re a burden. That you can’t be saved. That the whole world would be a better place if you weren’t in it. That if you died today, everyone would be better off tomorrow. No one would miss you, no one would care. That there’s no hope for you.

And that voice in your head…it’s annoying. It sounds just like you. Feels just like you. It has a way of replaying every mistake you’ve ever made and reminding you of all your worst qualities. It makes you think that all you do is mess things up and ruin the lives of everyone around you.

But here’s the thing: It’s. Not. You. It’s your mental illness. This disease has taken over your brain, and it has a way of making you feel awful. It knows how to replay every mistake, every bad memory and every word you wish you didn’t say. It knows how to replay those things over and over in your head until you believe that it’s the truth and you feel like you can’t keep living.

But I’m going to say this again: That voice inside your head isn’t you. It’s your mental illness.

I know you feel lost, overwhelmed and hopeless. But I also know you want to get better. Just remember that you don’t need to figure out everything today or even tomorrow. You don’t need to fix all your problems or find the right combination of medications or feel 100% better right now. All you need to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and remind yourself that the voice inside your head isn’t you.

I know you feel like you’ve made too many mistakes. Mistakes that are unforgivable, and you feel like you can’t move forward because of it. But you want to know something? We’ve all made mistakes. That’s part of what makes us human. Those mistakes don’t mean you’re not worth saving.

Because you are – you are worth saving.

If you’re struggling right now, I want you to stick around. I’m not going to promise you that it’ll get better tomorrow, next week or even next month. I can’t promise you that you won’t spend nights crying on the bathroom floor, wanting so desperately for a friend to reach out and ask if you’re ok. I can’t promise you that you won’t hit rock bottom again. But I can promise you that one day, you won’t feel like this.

I know all you see is darkness. But just because you can’t see the stars doesn’t mean they’re not there. One day, the light will come back. One day, you will see the stars and realize they were never gone. Just hidden.

When all feels hopeless, just remember you’ve survived 100% of your worst days – even when you thought you couldn’t.

You deserve to get help, and you deserve to get better. You are not a burden for reaching out for help. You are not getting in the way or making someone’s life worse by sticking around.

So yeah, I know you’re hurting. And even though you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle, I promise you, you’re going to come out on top. Because you’re a fighter and a survivor. And you refuse to quit.

You matter. You are important. You are loved. You are brave. You are enough.

You don’t have to go through this battle alone. I’m right here with you. I promise.

Sincerely,

A girl who cares

Community Voices

Accepting My Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis

For 14 years, I thought I had #MajorDepressiveDisorder.

Then last year, I started seeing a new psychiatrist after nine years away. After being prescribed antidepressants that only made things worse, he diagnosed me with bipolar II disorder. Even though the diagnosis explained so much about what I was going through, I felt my world turn upside down. I actually wrote about that experience in a blog for The Mighty titled, “The 4 Emotions I Felt After Being Diagnosed With Bipolar II Disorder.”

I started taking mood stabilizers for bipolar II disorder, and within a couple of weeks, I felt like myself again. But a few weeks later, I found myself struggling again.

Around the same time, I was in the process of separating from my husband and moving to Chicago. When I finally got settled in, I looked up new doctors but never found one that accepted my insurance. Things were still bad, but I managed. I told myself I could do it on my own. Until I couldn’t.

In February, my divorce was finalized. In March, I lost a job I loved. In April, I had to leave Chicago and move in with family in Ohio. By May, I was in so much emotional pain that I couldn’t take it. I kept feeling like the whole world would be better without me in it. With the support of my friends and family, I got the strength to make an appointment with a psychiatrist in Ohio.

Like my last psychiatrist, my doctor diagnosed me with disorder, #GeneralizedAnxietyDisorder with #PanicDisorder. She put me on a new mood stabilizer. It worked, and then it didn’t. So, she increased the dose, but the same thing happened. She added lithium to help with the mania and suicidal thoughts. It helped with the mania, but the suicidal thoughts lingered.

And that’s how things went for five months with new medications and dosage increases – until at a recent appointment she suggested I look up #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder.

So, I did. And I felt like I was reading a description of my life – it so accurately described the intense emotions I feel every single day and the reactions I have to situations life throws my way. However, it was also terrifying to think that I had borderline personality disorder.

At my next appointment, she confirmed the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. And once again – like when I got my diagnosis last year – a flood of emotions overcame me.

First, I felt relieved

I expected my first reaction to be shock or fear, but to be honest, I was relieved. My doctor spent a good amount of time explaining , how it’s often the result of childhood trauma and that dialectical behavior therapy can be incredibly beneficial in treating .

My doctor didn’t need to spend all that time explaining . She could’ve simply said, “go home and do some research.” But she didn’t. She talked to me like a friend, gave me a ton of information I didn’t already know and helped educate me while breaking down the stigma surrounding .

When I walked out of my appointment, I had a better understanding of along with a clear treatment plan. And for the first time in months, I felt like there was hope for me – like maybe I wasn’t a treatment-resistant, lost cause after all.

But then I started struggling and feeling hopeless

As I was driving home, I started to feel my heart sink. I felt that hopelessness returning. I pulled over to the nearest parking lot and started crying. I was struggling, and I wasn’t even sure what I was struggling with.

I texted one of my friends, and I realized it came down to two things: the stigma surrounding and feeling like I didn’t even know who I was anymore.

But just like when I was diagnosed with disorder, my friend reminded me that this diagnosis doesn’t define me. Nothing about me changes. I’m the same person today as I was yesterday. The things that make me “me” are still there. The only thing that changes is the label the doctors use to determine the right course of treatment.

She was right, but there was still the stigma.

I’ll be the first to admit I still don’t know a lot about . But I do know there are a lot of misconceptions about people who have – like they’re manipulative, can’t be trusted, are unlovable, are attention seeking, they don’t deserve to be in relationships because they don’t make good partners…the list goes on.

I was mad at myself for falling into that line of thinking because I know that the misconceptions surrounding are just that: misconceptions. But I kept thinking, “When people find out I have , what are they going to think of me? Will they still want to be my friend? Will everyone leave?”

That kicked my fear of abandonment into high gear, and I started feeling hopeless for the future. That first night, I couldn’t stop crying because I was so scared. Scared that no one would love me, scared that everyone was going to leave and scared that I wouldn’t get through this.

Then I thought, “maybe I can make a difference”

I believe my purpose in life – my “why” – is to help others by sharing my story. I feel like I was put on this earth to share my experiences and help people realize that no matter what they’re going through, they’re not alone.

It’s why I blog about living with a mental illness, the struggles I face and the things that help get me through it.

But I’ll also be the first to admit that I’m not always open about my experiences. I spent most of my summer struggling in silence. No one knew how bad the #Depression was. No one knew I had panic attacks every time I left the house. No one knew how badly I wanted the pain to stop and that I tried to take my own life…more than once. Part of me felt bad for keeping all that in, but honestly, I wasn’t ready.

However, I’ve been much more open lately, and I’ve started sharing things about my life that I’ve kept tucked away for years. Although sharing those experiences has been tough, it’s also helped me heal. And it’s been a powerful reminder that I am not alone even though I feel alone.

Once that initial shock, shame, and hopelessness went away, I started to think back to my “why.” I realized I needed to take all this pain and use it as an opportunity to educate people about . I wanted to take these sour lemons life keeps throwing my way and turn them into something that slightly resembles lemonade.

I’m ready to share my story with the world again because I know the difference it makes. It’s scary to be so open and vulnerable – especially when you’re sharing the deepest, darkest parts of yourself with complete strangers. But if it helps just one person going through the same thing, it’s all worth it.

Coming to terms with my new diagnosis is going to be a process. I’m sure I’ll go back and forth between struggling with it and accepting it. I’ll have days when I feel like my is controlling me and days when I feel like I’ve got this.

When I’m struggling, I’m going to lean on the people who love me. The people who will be by my side regardless of my diagnosis. And on the days I feel good, I will embrace the happiness and sunshine – because after all this darkness, I deserve it.

Christina Bockisch

Is It Domestic Abuse If He Doesn't Hit You?

“You’re being crazy and jealous. Loosen up.” “If you just did what I told you, I wouldn’t be mad.” “You need to stop hanging out with your friends and spend more time with me.” “You’re not being a good enough wife. I need more from you.” “If you leave, no one will ever love you as much as I do.” You heard these things all the time. Every day, every week, every month. And it broke you. But you convinced yourself it wasn’t that bad. It’s not like he ever hit you. He was charming. Your parents loved how kind he was and how well he treated you when you brought him over for family dinners. He made you laugh and knew how to put a smile on your face. He bought you flowers in the beginning, showered you with gifts you could never afford on your own and took you out to fancy restaurants. You had thousands of good times together. And it was pure bliss — until it wasn’t. Slowly, things changed. He started criticizing how you acted in front of his family and friends. Told you that you couldn’t wear this or had to wear that. The arguments became more frequent and they kept getting worse. He called you every name in the book — bitch, stupid, crazy, worthless, piece of shit. Then he threatened to break up with you and kick you out of your apartment. He said if you left, you’d have nothing. So you stayed because every couple argues and goes through rough patches, right? You broke up a few times, got kicked out of your apartment and learned he returned the engagement ring he bought for you. Then he started being nice. He gave you compliments, told you how beautiful you looked and made you feel special. He gave you butterflies and made you laugh. Things were starting to look up again. When he got down on one knee and asked you to marry him, you said yes. Because he loved you, and you loved him. But whenever you tried to plan your wedding, you fought. He wanted no part of it but hated every decision you made. The flowers were ugly, the wedding colors “didn’t work” and he hated the friends you chose for your bridal party. You spent hours crying, wondering what you did wrong. So one day, you asked why he was putting off planning the wedding. “I wish I never proposed. I never wanted to do it. I only proposed because I felt pressure from everyone and felt like it was the next logical step in our relationship because we’ve been together for so long.” He said this a lot, and it made you feel like your relationship was a giant mistake. You questioned why you stayed with someone who was only with you because he felt like he had to be. But how could you possibly break up? What would your family think? How would you survive on your own? So you stayed, and you convinced yourself it wasn’t that bad. It’s not like he ever hit you. Then, after the wedding, things just got worse. The name-calling escalated, and you started to believe every awful word he said to you. You believed him when he said your career wasn’t going anywhere, that your friends were terrible people and your boss hates you. You believed there was something wrong with you. You believed you were crazy, jealous, overreacting, being a bitch, being unreasonable. Everything about you just wasn’t good enough, and he made sure you knew it. He started manipulating you into thinking everything was your fault. Even if you were upset with him for not picking up food from the grocery store, not walking the dog or coming home at 2 a.m., it was still your fault. Because you were crazy, ridiculous, selfish and uptight. You needed to calm down and stop nagging. You were annoying and jealous. He never took the blame or responsibility, even when he made a mistake. It was never his fault, always yours. So you apologized over and over again. But those apologies weren’t enough. Years later, you still found yourself apologizing for situations you couldn’t change. He hung every mistake over your head and used it against you whenever he could. When you experienced a mental health relapse, he wasn’t there. He didn’t even notice anything was wrong. But that was your fault for not speaking up and telling him what was wrong. It was your fault for being sick. When you stopped cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, cooking dinner and getting out of bed, you were lazy. When you started self-harming again, you were immature and crazy. When you were strong and brave enough to reach out for help, you were being stupid. Because, according to him, if you just stopped being so negative, everything would be fine. You were strong enough to get through it on your own. Except you weren’t. You were dying inside, and you needed help. But because he didn’t believe in taking medications for mental illnesses, you weren’t allowed to take them either. So, when you went behind his back and saw a psychiatrist anyway, he said you weren’t listening to him. And that wasn’t OK. Because he was your husband, and you needed to listen to him and do what he said. His opinion mattered the most. You couldn’t get tattoos because he wouldn’t be attracted to you anymore. You couldn’t wear leggings because you looked better in jeans. You had to look put-together every time you left the house. You needed to smile more, wipe away that “resting bitch face” and put the phone down. You needed to make more of an effort with his friends and family. You needed to be nicer. You needed to be everything he wanted you to be. You spent countless nights on the bathroom floor crying your eyes out because you were so hurt, sad and alone. You felt hopeless and stuck. You started isolating yourself from everyone (because he told you to), working late, sleeping on the couch and going to Target even when you had nothing to buy. You just needed to get away. And even though you wanted to leave, you couldn’t. Because he loved you, and no one would ever love you as much as he did. Instead, you justified his behavior. He was just stressed from work, not sleeping enough and drinking too much. He was overwhelmed, tired and needed more space. He was this. He was that. You told yourself all these things were normal. Plus, it’s not like you were perfect. Your actions – like not keeping the apartment clean, cooking healthy dinners, putting on makeup before leaving the house or wearing what he asked you to wear – caused a lot of problems. You were awful. You were worthless. You were nothing. And you deserved all this. You kept convincing yourself that all this was normal. No relationship was perfect; every couple fought and you weren’t the only one going through this. It’s not like he ever hit you, so it couldn’t be that bad. Right? One day, you stared into the mirror, and that girl you saw – you didn’t recognize her. She wasn’t you. You were independent, strong, ambitious, happy and beautiful. This person was weak, broken and bruised. This person hated every single thing about herself. But you still couldn’t leave him. Because you loved him, and he loved you. But mostly, you couldn’t leave because you were scared to be alone. You moved across the country for him, changed your last name for him. Everything you knew was with him. You loved his family. They loved you. What would you do if you got a divorce? Where would you go? What would you have left? One day, you woke up, and you started seeing the situation for what it was. You saw the manipulation and how controlling he was. You saw how he would push blame onto you when it was really his fault. You saw how he belittled you, tried to minimize your accomplishments and made you feel like you were nothing. And once you saw it happening, you couldn’t unsee it. When he suggested getting a divorce, it was an easy decision. You wanted out, and he was finally giving you permission to leave. You finally got the strength and courage to get out of that toxic situation. So you left. Finally, you admitted to yourself that what he did to you wasn’t normal. It wasn’t because he loved you. It was mental and emotional abuse. Although he never hit you, he didn’t have to. He inflicted so much pain, and he left the scars behind to prove it. You still think you’re crazy, worthless and a piece of shit. You struggle to see the beauty inside you. You still can’t see how amazing you truly are. But today, you no longer feel guilty when you make a mistake, struggle to get out bed, forget to do the dishes, go to the psychiatrist, get a tattoo or wear the same leggings for a week straight. You no longer feel pressure to look perfect when leaving the house, and you put on makeup when you want to. Not when he wants you to. You do things on your terms. You no longer spend your nights crying yourself to sleep, wondering why you weren’t enough and what you did to deserve this. Instead, you feel empowered. You feel free. Now, you realize leaving and getting a divorce was the best thing you ever could’ve done for yourself. You’re stronger now than you ever have been, and you know that one day, you will rise again.

Community Voices

How in the world do I get help? #Anxiety

I'm 25 and I've never been on medicine or gotten any treatment for my anxiety. I'm too scared to make doctor or therapy appointments and none of my family believe that anxiety is a thing so they are not going to help me in any way. So how in the world am I supposed to get help if I can't even work up the courage to get an appointment?

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Christina Bockisch

Is It Domestic Abuse If He Doesn't Hit You?

“You’re being crazy and jealous. Loosen up.” “If you just did what I told you, I wouldn’t be mad.” “You need to stop hanging out with your friends and spend more time with me.” “You’re not being a good enough wife. I need more from you.” “If you leave, no one will ever love you as much as I do.” You heard these things all the time. Every day, every week, every month. And it broke you. But you convinced yourself it wasn’t that bad. It’s not like he ever hit you. He was charming. Your parents loved how kind he was and how well he treated you when you brought him over for family dinners. He made you laugh and knew how to put a smile on your face. He bought you flowers in the beginning, showered you with gifts you could never afford on your own and took you out to fancy restaurants. You had thousands of good times together. And it was pure bliss — until it wasn’t. Slowly, things changed. He started criticizing how you acted in front of his family and friends. Told you that you couldn’t wear this or had to wear that. The arguments became more frequent and they kept getting worse. He called you every name in the book — bitch, stupid, crazy, worthless, piece of shit. Then he threatened to break up with you and kick you out of your apartment. He said if you left, you’d have nothing. So you stayed because every couple argues and goes through rough patches, right? You broke up a few times, got kicked out of your apartment and learned he returned the engagement ring he bought for you. Then he started being nice. He gave you compliments, told you how beautiful you looked and made you feel special. He gave you butterflies and made you laugh. Things were starting to look up again. When he got down on one knee and asked you to marry him, you said yes. Because he loved you, and you loved him. But whenever you tried to plan your wedding, you fought. He wanted no part of it but hated every decision you made. The flowers were ugly, the wedding colors “didn’t work” and he hated the friends you chose for your bridal party. You spent hours crying, wondering what you did wrong. So one day, you asked why he was putting off planning the wedding. “I wish I never proposed. I never wanted to do it. I only proposed because I felt pressure from everyone and felt like it was the next logical step in our relationship because we’ve been together for so long.” He said this a lot, and it made you feel like your relationship was a giant mistake. You questioned why you stayed with someone who was only with you because he felt like he had to be. But how could you possibly break up? What would your family think? How would you survive on your own? So you stayed, and you convinced yourself it wasn’t that bad. It’s not like he ever hit you. Then, after the wedding, things just got worse. The name-calling escalated, and you started to believe every awful word he said to you. You believed him when he said your career wasn’t going anywhere, that your friends were terrible people and your boss hates you. You believed there was something wrong with you. You believed you were crazy, jealous, overreacting, being a bitch, being unreasonable. Everything about you just wasn’t good enough, and he made sure you knew it. He started manipulating you into thinking everything was your fault. Even if you were upset with him for not picking up food from the grocery store, not walking the dog or coming home at 2 a.m., it was still your fault. Because you were crazy, ridiculous, selfish and uptight. You needed to calm down and stop nagging. You were annoying and jealous. He never took the blame or responsibility, even when he made a mistake. It was never his fault, always yours. So you apologized over and over again. But those apologies weren’t enough. Years later, you still found yourself apologizing for situations you couldn’t change. He hung every mistake over your head and used it against you whenever he could. When you experienced a mental health relapse, he wasn’t there. He didn’t even notice anything was wrong. But that was your fault for not speaking up and telling him what was wrong. It was your fault for being sick. When you stopped cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, cooking dinner and getting out of bed, you were lazy. When you started self-harming again, you were immature and crazy. When you were strong and brave enough to reach out for help, you were being stupid. Because, according to him, if you just stopped being so negative, everything would be fine. You were strong enough to get through it on your own. Except you weren’t. You were dying inside, and you needed help. But because he didn’t believe in taking medications for mental illnesses, you weren’t allowed to take them either. So, when you went behind his back and saw a psychiatrist anyway, he said you weren’t listening to him. And that wasn’t OK. Because he was your husband, and you needed to listen to him and do what he said. His opinion mattered the most. You couldn’t get tattoos because he wouldn’t be attracted to you anymore. You couldn’t wear leggings because you looked better in jeans. You had to look put-together every time you left the house. You needed to smile more, wipe away that “resting bitch face” and put the phone down. You needed to make more of an effort with his friends and family. You needed to be nicer. You needed to be everything he wanted you to be. You spent countless nights on the bathroom floor crying your eyes out because you were so hurt, sad and alone. You felt hopeless and stuck. You started isolating yourself from everyone (because he told you to), working late, sleeping on the couch and going to Target even when you had nothing to buy. You just needed to get away. And even though you wanted to leave, you couldn’t. Because he loved you, and no one would ever love you as much as he did. Instead, you justified his behavior. He was just stressed from work, not sleeping enough and drinking too much. He was overwhelmed, tired and needed more space. He was this. He was that. You told yourself all these things were normal. Plus, it’s not like you were perfect. Your actions – like not keeping the apartment clean, cooking healthy dinners, putting on makeup before leaving the house or wearing what he asked you to wear – caused a lot of problems. You were awful. You were worthless. You were nothing. And you deserved all this. You kept convincing yourself that all this was normal. No relationship was perfect; every couple fought and you weren’t the only one going through this. It’s not like he ever hit you, so it couldn’t be that bad. Right? One day, you stared into the mirror, and that girl you saw – you didn’t recognize her. She wasn’t you. You were independent, strong, ambitious, happy and beautiful. This person was weak, broken and bruised. This person hated every single thing about herself. But you still couldn’t leave him. Because you loved him, and he loved you. But mostly, you couldn’t leave because you were scared to be alone. You moved across the country for him, changed your last name for him. Everything you knew was with him. You loved his family. They loved you. What would you do if you got a divorce? Where would you go? What would you have left? One day, you woke up, and you started seeing the situation for what it was. You saw the manipulation and how controlling he was. You saw how he would push blame onto you when it was really his fault. You saw how he belittled you, tried to minimize your accomplishments and made you feel like you were nothing. And once you saw it happening, you couldn’t unsee it. When he suggested getting a divorce, it was an easy decision. You wanted out, and he was finally giving you permission to leave. You finally got the strength and courage to get out of that toxic situation. So you left. Finally, you admitted to yourself that what he did to you wasn’t normal. It wasn’t because he loved you. It was mental and emotional abuse. Although he never hit you, he didn’t have to. He inflicted so much pain, and he left the scars behind to prove it. You still think you’re crazy, worthless and a piece of shit. You struggle to see the beauty inside you. You still can’t see how amazing you truly are. But today, you no longer feel guilty when you make a mistake, struggle to get out bed, forget to do the dishes, go to the psychiatrist, get a tattoo or wear the same leggings for a week straight. You no longer feel pressure to look perfect when leaving the house, and you put on makeup when you want to. Not when he wants you to. You do things on your terms. You no longer spend your nights crying yourself to sleep, wondering why you weren’t enough and what you did to deserve this. Instead, you feel empowered. You feel free. Now, you realize leaving and getting a divorce was the best thing you ever could’ve done for yourself. You’re stronger now than you ever have been, and you know that one day, you will rise again.

Christina Bockisch

The 4 Emotions I Felt After Being Diagnosed With Bipolar II Disorder

  I spent 14 years thinking I had major depressive disorder. That’s 14 years of being treated with antidepressants. It’s also 14 years of dealing with medication that didn’t work, unexplained extreme mood swings and relentless suicidal thoughts. When I started seeing a psychiatrist again after nine years away, I wasn’t surprised when he diagnosed me with depression — because that’s what my last doctor told me. But I was surprised that at every visit, he’d ask me questions like: Do you ever go from extremely sad to extremely happy on the same day? Does that happiness only last a few days? Do you also feel irritable and/or productive when you’re happy? What about overly confident or like you can do anything?” I knew he was asking questions related to bipolar disorder, and I vehemently denied every one of his questions. In some cases, I’d even lie. No, I’m not irritable on the days I’m happy. No, I don’t feel depressed in the morning and extremely happy by the afternoon. I wasn’t bipolar. I couldn’t be. But after doing some research (and learning there’s more than one type of bipolar disorder), I had this gut feeling my psychiatrist was onto something. And the next time I went in for an appointment, I answered his questions honestly. So, after 14 years of being treated for depression and never getting better, I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. And almost instantly, a wave of several different emotions flooded over me so intensely I broke down in tears. Here are the emotions I felt after receiving my new diagnosis. 1. Anger I was 14 when I was initially diagnosed with depression, and because I was a minor, my parents were in control of my treatment. To this day, I still remember how I felt being on the medication — and none of it had to do with getting better. I was tired all the time and still really depressed. I felt numb and empty. I felt like there was a cloud of fog around me. I dealt with constant suicidal thoughts. And I just knew that none of this was normal. So, I told my parents and psychiatrist I didn’t like how the medication made me feel. I told them I wasn’t getting better. And I said over and over again I felt better off the medication than on it. But no matter how hard I fought, no one wanted to listen. Now – 14 years later – I learned the reason my medication never worked was because I was being treated for the wrong mental illness. And so the first emotion I felt was anger. Anger because I said for years that something wasn’t right. Anger because no one wanted to listen to me when I was struggling because I was “just a teenager” and my doctor “knew best.” I was angry I spent 14 years not getting better because no one wanted to listen. But I was also angry with myself for not being honest with my psychiatrist to begin with. If I had, I wouldn’t have spent eight weeks on antidepressants that made me feel the worst I’ve ever felt in my life. And that was a hard pill to swallow. 2. Shame I know that having a mental illness – including bipolar disorder – is nothing to be ashamed of. I tell that to people all the time both in person and on my blog. But there I was, driving home from my appointment, feeling ashamed about my new diagnosis. I kept thinking about how embarrassing it would be to say, “I’m bipolar” instead of “I’m depressed” or what people would think when they found out I’m bipolar. But after talking to one of my friends, I was able to gain some clarity on the situation. She said to me, “It’s just a label the doctor uses to determine your treatment plan. It doesn’t change a thing about who you are.” After taking a few moments to soak that in, I realized she was right. I’m still the same person I was before – kind, funny, smart, strong and a badass. Nothing about who I am deep down changes. I realize now that being bipolar is nothing to be ashamed of. Because although it is a large part of who I am, I’m still so much more than my mental illness. 3. Relief After getting home, talking to a few people and having a chance to research and better understand my new diagnosis, I felt relief. It was a relief to know I’d finally be treated with the right type of medications (mood stabilizers instead of antidepressants). It was a relief to know the suicidal thoughts would eventually go away. Mostly, though, it was a relief that after all these years, someone finally listened when I said I wasn’t OK. When I called my doctor’s office and told them I was struggling with suicidal thoughts, they listened and got me in for an appointment the same day. When I told my psychiatrist I felt hopeless, useless and worthless, he believed me and took it as a sign something wasn’t right. After all these years, it was a relief to know that fighting for my treatment and fighting to get better finally mattered. It was a relief to know that – after months of wandering through the darkness – there really was a light at the end of the tunnel. 4. Hope Above all else, being diagnosed with bipolar II disorder gave me hope. Hope that my treatment plan was finally headed in the right direction. Hope that better, brighter days were ahead. Hope that I really wasn’t going to feel like this forever. Hope that my story wasn’t over yet. I finally had hope that someday soon, the old me would return. That I could smile and mean it, laugh without forcing it and enjoy doing the things I love with the people I love. I know life with bipolar II won’t always be rainbows and unicorns. It’s something I’ll live with for the rest of my life. And despite how scary that sounds (and feels), I’m relieved I have the right answers and hopeful that everything is going to be OK. 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 or text “START” to 741-741 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via Any_Li

Christina Bockisch

How My Boss Saved My Life and Helped Me Through Depression

On February 13, 2017, I started a new job at a fully remote marketing agency. It was a job that allowed me to do the type of work I was passionate about – like copywriting, project management and marketing strategy – and it was the job I’d been hoping for since I lost my dream job at another agency eight months prior. When I got the job offer, I’d been out of work for four months. My savings account was almost drained, I was in a deep depression and I felt like a useless, worthless human being because I couldn’t keep a steady job. But I had hope that this position would turn things around and my mood would go back to normal. As the weeks went by, I fell in love with my role, clients, coworkers and boss. I truly believed that in time, this would take over the title of “best job I’ve ever had.” (And for what it’s worth, six months later, it has.) But despite how much I loved my job, I couldn’t help but feel sad, anxious and on-edge all the time. I had a hard time focusing during the day, and I found myself crying for no apparent reason.   I saw my passion for my work start to fade. It wasn’t an overnight shift, but the work I used to love started to become overwhelming. Soon after, I stopped sleeping. I’d stay up until 2 or 3 a.m. and be awake again by 5 or 6 a.m. And despite how tired I was throughout the day, I just couldn’t fall asleep. I was first diagnosed with depression (now re-diagnosed as bipolar 2 disorder) and anxiety when I was 14. Although my ultimate goal when I was a teenager was to be cured of my mental illnesses, I quickly learned it doesn’t work this way. My depression would come and go in waves throughout my life, and finding ways to cope with these feelings would be critical to my recovery. Because of this, I should’ve recognized the signs I was experiencing a depression relapse. But on their own, these symptoms – being sad and anxious, not sleeping, feeling exhausted, losing interest in activities, having a hard time focusing at work – didn’t seem like a big deal. Together, they were a sign that my depression was back – and in full force. It wasn’t long until these symptoms started affecting my work. I went from being able to put in a full day’s worth of work to logging anywhere from two to four hours of work a day. I’d sit at my computer for 8, 9, even 10+ hours, but I couldn’t get anything done. And since we’re a small agency of five people, my boss quickly took notice. I never planned on telling my boss about my struggles with mental illness, mostly because I was afraid of losing my job. But things had gotten to the point where I couldn’t hide it anymore. Putting on a happy face while falling apart inside was wearing me thin. I was tired, and I felt like I was going to break at any moment. Although I was scared, I let my boss in. I let her know I have depression and anxiety, I’m not currently taking medications but I’ve been considering reaching out to a psychiatrist to seek help because it had gotten so bad. I braced myself for the worst – for her to tell me I could no longer work for the agency or to simply say nothing at all – but her response was nothing short of positive, supportive and understanding. And just like that, I gained the greatest support system I didn’t even know I needed. Of all the people in this world, I never imagined it would be my boss who would be there holding my hand through the darkness. She’s watched as I bawled my eyes out when life felt too overwhelming. She’s seen me doubt myself and hate myself. My boss has seen me at my best, but mostly, she’s seen me at my absolute worst. And not once has she ever made me feel guilty for it. It was my boss who first pushed me to call a psychiatrist – even though I was scared and didn’t think I could do it. It was my boss who stood by my side when I started taking medications and experienced the worst possible side effects. It was my boss who encouraged me to call my psychiatrist again when it was clear the meds weren’t working. She was there for me the day I hit rock bottom – the day I decided I couldn’t keep living anymore. And instead of walking away (which so many people do), she sat on a video call with me for two hours to make sure I was OK. She listened when I said I couldn’t keep living because I wasn’t strong enough. She listened when I said I’m a terrible person with nothing to offer the world. She listened when I said how tired and scared I was. And although I know it wasn’t easy for her, she listened without judgment and did her best to help me through. She reminded me of how amazing I am and repeated all of my best qualities (even though I didn’t believe it at the time). She kept telling me, “You matter. People would miss you if you were gone. I’d miss you. You’re not going to feel like this forever.” She saved my life that day, and she’s done it many days since then. I’m alive today because my boss – someone I’ve only known six months and someone who didn’t owe me a thing – stood by me when I didn’t think I had anything left to give. I wasn’t meant to carry the weight of my struggles alone, and every single day, my boss reminds me of that. Whether it’s through a simple “I’m thinking about you today” text message or giving me the afternoon to go to an emergency psychiatrist appointment, my boss continues to hold my hand and push me through the tough times. Because even though all I see is darkness, she sees the light within me. And if there’s anything I’ve learned through all this, it’s sometimes the people you least expect who are there for you when you need it most. You just need to have the courage to let them in. To my boss: I could say “thank you” a million times, and it would never be enough. But from the bottom of my heart, thank you for holding my hand through the storms, forgiving me when I can’t forgive myself, being my rock and never giving up on me. And most importantly, thank you for saving my life over and over again. I love you more than words could ever explain, and I’m so grateful to have you in my life. Not just as my boss – but as a friend, too. 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 o r text “HOME” to 741-741 . Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo by chronicler101

Christina Bockisch

You Are Enough: A Letter to My Teenage Self With Depression

Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here . Christina, I know you’re going through some stuff right now. And I know you don’t know how to take it, what it all means or what the future holds for you. I know you feel lost and scared. Hopeless and weak. Tired and angry. I know you’re being bullied by every kid in 8th grade. In class, in the hallways, in the locker room, on the bus and even online. I know you don’t know what to do, and I know it’s wearing you down. You’ve tried standing up for yourself, but it only gets worse. So you stay quiet and let them call you names. I know they make fun of your clothes, hair, appearance and choice of music. They call you a goth and a lesbian. They tell you you’re ugly. And you believe every word they say is true. You believe it’s a reflection of who you are. But it’s not. It’s not even about you. It’s about them. And their words say more about them than they do of you. I know you don’t know who you can trust and that you feel like the world is out to get you. Your teachers, guidance counselor and even your parents – the people who should have your back – are turning against you. At least that’s how it feels. But I want you to know they’re only looking out for you. They want to help you. Maybe they’re not going about it in the best or right ways, but they’re trying. Let them in, and let them get you the help you need. I know you’re spending a lot of time crying in the school bathroom and in your room because your grades are slipping, you don’t have friends and because everyone has an opinion about you. I know you have something in your purse and that you practice harming yourself – imagining what it would feel like to make the first mark. I know that you finally give in and harm yourself. I know it gives you peace, but I also know it’s only temporary. And now you’re left trying to figure out how to cover these wounds and keep people from noticing. I know you think about ending your life. I know you believe your life isn’t worth living and the entire world would be better without you in it. I know you believe this is how your story ends. But I’m here to tell you that what you’re feeling today isn’t forever. And that despite how awful you feel, it’s only temporary. It does get better. I promise you it will. I know you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, and I know the sadness and anxiety are crushing you. You’re drowning in the weight of your emotions. I know you’re hurting. But I need you to keep going. I need you to believe it won’t be like this forever. I need you to dry your tears, take a breath and to put one foot in front of the other. It won’t be easy, and you’re going to want to give up. But please, Christina. Don’t do it. I know you don’t think you’re going to make it to your 15th birthday. I know you don’t even want to. But I want you to fight like hell. Don’t focus on tomorrow. Just focus on getting through today – hour by hour. Minute by minute. You are stronger than you believe, and I promise you can get through anything. You just need to believe in yourself. I know you don’t know what to make of your diagnosis. And I know you think this is the end of the world. But I want you to know that you are more than your diagnosis. You are stronger than your depression and anxiety. Although it seems like the end of the world right now, it’s this very moment that’s going to change your life. And it’s going to make you stronger. Because Christina, my dear, you are a fighter. A warrior. A badass. And no matter what anyone in this world tells you, you are enough. You are worthy of the help you’re given. You are worthy of recovery. You are worthy of better and brighter days. Because trust me, there are many of those ahead. You deserve every good thing in this world, and I never want you to doubt that, not even for a second. Don’t ever let anyone walk all over you or make you feel inferior. Don’t take no for an answer. And always stand up for what you believe in – even if your voice shakes. Encourage people to admit they’re not OK – but don’t forget to do the same when you’re hurting. Because there will be days when you hurt. Days when you can’t get out of bed and you’re convinced you can’t make it through another day. But you can, and you will. You always do. Be an advocate for the mental health community. Don’t be afraid to share your story. Despite what you’re feeling today, depression and anxiety are nothing to be ashamed of. You. Are. Not. Broken. You have so many wonderful things to offer the world, and you’re going to make an impact on the lives of so many people. You’re going to be a friend, a shoulder to cry on, someone they can confide in when they feel alone. You’re going to take all these struggles and grow from it. You’re going to chase your dreams and create a beautiful life for yourself. And while you’ll always carry your depression and anxiety with you, one day, you’ll realize it doesn’t define who you are. It’s part of you, but it’s not all you are. You are beautiful, smart, creative, kind, friendly, selfless, humble, driven, strong, inspiring and passionate. But most importantly, you are a force to be reckoned with. And you are going to change the world some day. I just know it. Love,Your 27-year-old self If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741 . For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Pexels image via freestocks.org