Once I began to accept my illness I was able to be more open with others about it.
So where am I now? What changes have I made?
As I sat in my former psychiatrist’s office listening to her ask questions about my symptoms… I knew what was coming next. I remember reading something about bipolar disorder and seeing some of the symptoms all I could think was that it sounded a lot like what I was dealing with. It all made sense now… So hearing her say those words “You have bipolar disorder,” it wasn’t much of a surprise at that point..but that didn’t mean I wasn’t scared. A lot of the other doctors I have had to see never took the time to sit and explain things to me.. or to comfort me. She did both and it made the whole process much easier.
I felt relieved but at the same time lost.. what is exactly is bipolar disorder? Many have heard this word thrown around by people who refer to themselves as being bipolar because they were just happy and laughing and now they are sad and crying. But it is so much more than that, it is a very serious and very real mood disorder. You have mania, which is considered the high mood and depression which is the low. These are not just happy to sad moments. These extreme mood changes can last anywhere from hours to months.
When I’m manic, I have an abundance of energy. I’ll talk your ear off and ask if you are listening every ten seconds. I’ll dance! Ideas come and go. I do and say things without thinking. I become very paranoid. When I’m manic, my mind runs deeper than a rabbit hole. I often feel like I can’t be told a thing! At the same time EVERYTHING irritates me. Most of the time, I am not aware of the negative consequences that will soon follow. That is something I have trouble explaining to others. It’s me but it’s not. I am not in my right mind.
During depressive episodes, I tend to shut others out. All the energy I spoke about having a few sentences up.. is now gone. My body is too heavy and getting out of bed takes a lot. I feel worthless and I get trapped in my negative thought pattern. I lose interest in almost everything.
With both, I am usually anxious, paranoid, and irritable. These are just some of the things that I go through but bipolar disorder can effect everyone in different ways.
One of the first changes I made was doing research. I felt that I needed as much knowledge as possible. I needed to educate myself in any way that I could! While this was a positive change some of the things I had discovered were terrifying. I also took my medication like I was supposed to even though it had to be changed a few times.. I went to therapy which became exhausting because I had to keep switching therapist.
2015 was one of my toughest years. I spent months in a place I will never allow myself to go back to. Besides having bipolar disorder, experiencing episodes, and facing the aftermath, I was also dealing with other things.. things that were holding me back only because I allowed them to. I know that my medication has played a significant role in the progress that I have made but it wasn’t just my medication alone. I chose to have a more positive outlook on life. I chose to detox my entire life.. and while I have had a few setbacks I chose to keep moving forward!
I still struggle and it isn’t that things have gotten easier it’s that I am learning more positive ways to deal with whatever is thrown at me. I can say that being diagnosed has had a major impact on my life because for so long I was in the dark from not knowing what was going on with me. When things hit rock bottom and I start feeling like this is a curse I remember all the people I have helped.. all the people I have inspired.. the people who have reached out to me. I remember how far I have come from where I use to be and that I made a promise to myself that I’d never give up.
I still have more growing to do, there is still so much I do not know and still so much I want to be able to do to spread awareness about mental health. Deciding to blog about my personal experiences was challenging at first. The thought of giving the world a front row seat was something I wasn’t sure I’d be ready for.. but I did it. Not only for myself but for others living with mental illnesses and for those who love/care about someone who lives with a mental illness. Blogging is only the beginning for me!
For anyone who reads this and is struggling always remember that YOU ARE MORE THAN A DIAGNOSIS.
Your illness is apart of you but it is not all of you!
Photo credits: bphope.com