May is mental health awareness month and since part of the reason I started this blog was to write about and cope with the stigma of mental health issues, I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about mine – bipolar disorder.
As I’ve said in the past and a million times before, mental health conditions do not discriminate. They do not care who you are or where you’ve been, the car you drive or the money you bring in every month. They are in you – a part of your make up.
Next month I turn 23 which will make it about 2 and a half years since I was diagnosed.
The summer I turned 20 something changed. Or maybe it was always there, but something in me came out. I became manic. I booked a trip to Greece and decided I was going to go to Mykonos for the first time ever. I will never forget that feeling of being on a new island with new people with my best friend and a few guys we met over the course of 3 days.
I was wild, but I was alive. But the second I got home from Greece I was depressed – I was lower than low. Looking back, that’s the first time I realized something was off. I had my first real phase of mania, and I was now deep into a depression.
I once described bipolar disorder as going to the party with the girl everyone warns you to stay away from – but in that post I was describing what it feels like to be manic. Manic meaning my super high, my hyperactivity, my rebellions, my actions that words usually cannot take back.
When I’m manic, I’m the cool girl.
I love to sit back and live life to the fullest. Everything sounds like a good idea, even when it’s the furthest thing from it. It’s also walking outside your house doors, seeing the sunshine and having chills run up and down your back because today is the day you think you’ll find your purpose on this earth. It’s hearing your favorite song on the radio and having tears come to your eyes because you think the song was written for you and that no one can possibly understand you otherwise. It’s kissing that boy in that bar and thinking you have a sense of power because now you’re desirable too. It’s saying things and making decisions based off of a temporary high, an elevated emotional state. It’s a false sense of confidence that leaves you feeling invincible.
When I’m manic I don’t always know it, but I’m starting to now. I suddenly have this outlook on life that is only positive, it’s only optimistic, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel because for once there is no tunnel. If anything, this is the time where I probably need to look for shade.
I make jokes non-stop, I laugh constantly and for a few days, weeks, months, it feels like I was given the greatest life there ever was. But you and I both know, that life does not exist. My thoughts are a game of connect the dots. This happened because of this and that happened because of that and this is what I’ve been left with. It’s a little mix of anxiety and a little bit of paranoia. But it’s me, it’s part of why I’m so socially aware and how I read people so well.
But sometimes I get ahead of myself. Sometimes my high drops and I’m at an ultimate low.
What I never talk about is my depression. My high-functioning depression because in my eyes no matter how low it gets – I never have the room or the time in my life to sit and miss out. I’ve been told that I should allow my depression to happen, rather than fight it. I should let myself curl up in bed and and feel it rather than try to force it away but I don’t because for me, being high-functioning isn’t a choice – it’s who I am.
It’s a blessing and a curse to be so in tune with your emotions.
When I’m depressed, I feel as though sometimes I can see my life and myself through these glasses of the other perspective, a side I cannot see when I’m okay, or when I’m manic. These glasses give me the ability to see myself and my life through the most paranoid, pessimistic and grey tinted view.
Think of the person on this earth who knows you best, and now think of the person on this earth who doesn’t like you the most. Now imagine these were one person and all the things they could come up and say about you as a person. Are you still the nice girl everyone thinks you are? Or are you the world greatest manipulator? Do you care what happens in your friends life or are you just nosey?
You’re no longer the person you trust yourself to be, you suddenly have this part of your mind that’s been awakened and it’s not as bright as the rest, it’s dark. It’s your own worst enemy. It becomes your own personal hell.
Depression is forcing yourself on that run but making it only halfway because your mind and body cannot sync up. It’s sleeping in later than usual but not getting enough rest. It’s seeing familiar faces and wondering why they feel so distant. But it’s not them, it’s you – and you know it.
I was depressed on what should have been some of the happiest days of my life. My college graduation for instance. I was happy, yes, but underneath it I felt the burden. I wish I could have felt that day with pure happiness. I wish I could have known what it would be like to graduate college without an ounce of doubt in myself, but I didn’t get that. I was happy, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t wholly, it wasn’t genuine, it was scared and it was tainted.
I’ve been physically present for so many things, but mentally I wasn’t always there. You don’t get to relive those days, you don’t get to be there again in the moment. On my friends birthdays or occasions I could leave in panic because I was so depressed and I couldn’t bear to be there. Sometimes it gets so bad that you start hoping for the mania, you’re addicted to it. You’re addicted to how much better you could feel. So you wait and wait for the day, and eventually it comes back. You get to be back in that place where everything is clear and everything is better.
It’s a cycle. And that’s the least of ways I could ever explain it. It’s hard, it’s not my best look, it’s not easy blaming yourself all the time for everything because you know how your mind works. It’s not easy feeling like you’re making excuses for yourself or that people will one day get sick of your shit. But these were the cards I was dealt and this is the battle I will continue to fight and eventually learn to accept for the rest of my life.