Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mental Health Awareness Week ~ I am Bipolar, by Anonymous

As part of mental health awareness week, I am sharing the stories of those who want others to understand what their lives are like, who want to feel like someone understands them, who don't want others to feel alone. 

Today, I share the story sent to me anonymously about what it is like living with Bipolar Disorder. With love and respect, her story.
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My whole life I felt like I never fit in, I always felt like I was different somehow; my appearance, my personality, my outlook on life. From as far back as I can remember I have hated myself. Different reasons, some larger than others, some due to over-thinking, most due to negative self talk. 

I hate my body more than anything, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I live in the past and I won't let myself be free from things that have happened, good or bad. Everyday is a struggle for me and everyday I have to remind myself that this life is worth living. That I have family who cares for me, and finally have a group of friends that know my dirty laundry and love and accept me. It should be enough, most days it is, some days I bury myself so far into a hole that I can't see ever getting out. I have a backup plan, just in case I can't do it anymore. It's pretty foolproof, I think, it has to be so that my family can get my life insurance policy. I know this is all pretty morbid, but it's how I think, like I said... I'm different.

I have a horrible memory and I don't remember any specific circumstances before middle school, just general feelings. I remember all this starting my 5th grade year, my mom would probably tell you differently but it was something that I wouldn't talk about. I remember being the fat kid in middle school, the nerd, the girl who was always trying to get attention from other people. I was in a pretty strict school and got into a lot of trouble for my clothing, attitude, homework, etc. 

Under my doctor's recommendation my parents pulled me out of that school to move to a new school opening up in the city. It would be a fresh start. Everyone was pulled from multiple schools so there weren't going to be a lot of cliques or drama to start with. I was thrilled, I couldn't wait. I have an older brother who is amazing and as much as I love him, I was in his shadow. He was the perfect teenager. To live up to that expectation was hard. I already lived in his shadow at the church we went to, I couldn't do it in the same school.

During my high school years, it looked like I had everything together on the outside. I was very involved in my church, had a group of friends that I was constantly with from youth group. I found my place in high school, was in extracurricular activities, hated school but had a 3.0+ gpa. I didn't get into trouble for any sort of drug, alcohol, or sex related things, I felt like I was a typical teenager. 

In comparison to my brother though, I wasn't. I was the hard child for my parents, the emotional teenage girl. On the inside, I was fighting a battle much larger than anyone would ever realize. I don't remember exactly when it started, or what started it outside of the carry over of negative self talk from middle school. I decided even more that I hated myself. Nothing could change my mind on this. I felt like I was a failure to my parents, my friends, myself. 

My freshmen year of high school I started to cut. But it wasn't the "traditional" cutting scenario. I couldn't let anyone see what I was doing, and I was too paranoid to be always covering my arms, legs, etc. I would find sharp enough objects and use those instead of a sharp blade. Most times it was a needle, pushpin, or safety pin. That pain wouldn't be enough though so I would apply something alcohol based to make it sting such as hand sanitizer, perfume, something like that. I would always cut horizontally on my wrist so that I could hide it with a hair tie, and if I fell deep enough into a hole and wasn't in a position that I could cut, I would snap the ponytail. Throughout high school I was always trying to get attention from anyone who would give it to me (within reason) mostly boys that were within a couple years of my age. I always had a boyfriend or a boy I was interested in, always.

After high school and a year of college I got married to the guy I was with my Senior year of high school. It was fantastic. We were so in love, everything was perfect. Until I learned I wasn't as happy as I used to be. The honeymoon period was over and I wanted it back. I had an affair in order to get that feeling back. My husband and I survived this and he forgave me for it, but my mother begged me to go see a psychiatrist. I agreed to go, I knew something wasn't right with me. 

After one or two sessions he diagnosed me with Bipolar 2 and hypersexuality. It was a relief to get a diagnosis, but it wasn't enough. I was still going through my depression and my mania and I was still very much struggling despite being on medication. I didn't tell anyone though, not when most of it deals with hypersexuality. I went up into my mania and started flirting around with another guy, it didn't go far, but it went far enough for being a married woman. This time my husband and I separated when he found out. I temporarily moved out of the house, it was only going to be until we both had time to think things over. We continued to see each other at church and other things. We would still talk every day and every night. This isn't what either of us wanted, but I couldn't keep hurting him. One night after church, we ended up having sex in our car in a parking lot. It was thrilling and fun and we were doing the unmentionable in a spot where we could get caught - my hypersexual side loved it. We continued to "sneak around" until we decided to stay together. All of that was within weeks, not months.

A couple weeks after that, tragedy struck our lives. We were tested stronger than we had ever been tested before. We both learned a lot through it. Tragedy really can bring two people back together.

It has been a few years since then. We are still married to this day, we are happy as a couple. I am on medication that keeps the depression from completely burying me, the hypomania isn't really touched by it. I still struggle everyday with my battles and having to use self control. I still want attention from other people. I still have to everyday fight for my life and decide that it's worth it. I am almost always depressed. I have an incredible mask that most are not able to see through, thankfully. 

On the outside, I actually appear normal I've been told, people are surprised when they find out I am Bipolar. I am one of the most self-aware people I know, and have also been told this by my friends. I have to be. My survival is dependent on me knowing my triggers and how things will affect me. I no longer cut, I got a tattoo based off "To Write Love On Her Arms" to remind myself that I can't do it again. It was the last time I allowed myself to feel that much pain and hurt in the same place I cut myself. It was my final cut. I don't fear death in the least bit, to the point it's actually worrisome. I know people will move on, I don't mean that much, I am not worth that much. Sometimes the only thing that has kept me from attempting to take my life is the look that I see on my mom and dad's face. I can't do it to them.

This life isn't fair, it's not what I would wish upon anyone. Bipolar isn't a death sentence for me, but it does make my life a living hell. What I wouldn't give to think like a "normal" person. To not have such strong feelings and demons fighting me .all.the.fucking.time. I am jealous of those people who have never had to deal with a mental illness. But, there's nothing I can do except to be open and honest with my closest friends and family about how I am doing. I can't wish away this disease. 

At this point I pray everyday that my children don't get it. Science still doesn't know exactly what causes Bipolar, if it's genetic, etc. I don't know how I'll survive watching my children go through what I've had to. One of my closest friends say that if it does happen, that I'll get through that like I have gotten through my own personal battles. One foot in front of the other and try to lead them the best I can. That's all anyone can ask of me, including myself, just do my best and try harder everyday to overcome.

3 comments:

  1. Ah sweet sister. Thank you for sharing! Wow... if u didn't do a beautiful job explaining this hell! That mask. I wonder if that's specific to Bipolar. Sometimes I feel like nobody knows me.. because they all seem to still like me. But if I were to expose them to the reality of my life, they would walk away repulsed. Congrats to you for maintaining a marriage and family! That's excellent news!

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  2. It was very hard to share and write this. I am glad I'm not alone. I am very glad that I have exposed my friends to who I really am. Most don't understand, but they accept me and I've learned who my real friends are. The ones who walked away, I don't need. Thank you for your kind words.

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  3. Thank you for sharing your experience and helping people to understand this diagnosis a little more. I had a boy in my classroom one year with Bipolar disorder. At first I was scared of what he might do, but as the year went on, I grew to know him as a sweet, quiet, intelligent boy. He was absent a lot, so I think his parents kept him home when he was struggling. The more we talk about mental health, the more people will understand it and be accepting.

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