I’m not sure what to write about this morning, so I am using a prompt from Beckie’s Mental Mess, a blog written by an amazing advocate for mental illnesses. She is also very supportive of other bloggers who want to share their stories about mental illness.
When you first found out that you had a mental illness/disorder, what was your first reaction? Explain how this new revelation regarding your health affected you?
I was diagnosed when I was 19 in the midst of a severe manic episode and psychotic break. I’d gone 80 hours without sleep, and I was utterly out of my mind.
I do not remember the exact moment I was told I had bipolar, but I know I was in denial about it. I was told I had to be medicated.
I was angry and confused.
How could this happen to me?
I’m not perfect anymore.
I never had any inkling I had a mental illness, so I was completely blindsided by my episode and the impending diagnosis.
It was unfair and unjust. It was a death sentence.
I continued to deny I had a problem for a time, but I dutifully took my medicine thanks to my parent’s persistence and my tendency to comply.
Eventually, as the fog and mania subsided, I came to accept my illness. I even went so far as sharing my diagnosis with friends. I lost a few of them, which hurt, but I don’t need people who don’t try to understand my illness.
Once I accepted my illness, I was able to look back on my childhood through a new lens, and I realized there were indicators of bipolar throughout my upbringing.
I’ve always been prone to melancholy, and I had episodes of hypomania in high school (although I had no idea what hypomania was until well after my diagnosis). I averaged five hours of sleep a night, and I incessantly walked on the ledge of mania. The only reason I didn’t fall off the cliff was because of the exorbitant amount of exercise I got every day.
My mood swings were frequent and devastating growing up. I experienced irrational rages and had yelling matches with my sister on a regular basis. My fuse was short and my temper beyond explosive after little to no provocation.
My sanity was a shed built on sand, and I was caught up in a perfect storm when I was 19; the rest is history.
I accepted my illness a long time ago, which has led to my recent decision to write about and share my experiences with the world with the hope of reaching people who may feel hopeless in the midst of their own diagnosis.
Writing has become a great form of therapy for me, and I feel like I have a lot to offer to people trekking through the wilderness of mental illnesses.
I consider myself blessed with the timing and treatment of my diagnosis, and at this point, I wouldn’t trade my illness for sanity if given the option.
Being bipolar brings tumultuous moods, but it also entails wonderful energy and creativity. I do not know what I’d be like without my illness, and I’ve grown to have respect for every aspect of it.
Being bipolar is not a death sentence like I first believed.
It is a super power.