“If someone were to ask me to describe bipolar disorder, I would rename it to its previous name, manic depression, because that’s what it is. It’s a feeling of mania and sadness at an extreme level. It’s living with a racing mind – one minute you’re feeling euphoric, on top of the world, invincible… and the next you’re being hit with a black cloud of depression that’s sickening you to the pit of your stomach.
It’s not an everyday disease. Your inner thoughts can change a hundred times in a day. It’s exhausting and can feel like hell. Bipolar disorder does not need a trigger or trauma that ordinary life can bring. It has a mind of its own. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain—but it’s an imbalance that can be helped.
I was 24 and living in London, the city that brings my heart to life, when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I had just started a Masters in Writing at a university that ranks second in the world for creativity and design. It was a big deal for me as I was the kid in school doing his high school diploma on a laptop because I had dyspraxia. I left school with a few detentions, suspensions, and barely enough points to make jam, and here I was, one of only two people on the course who had been accepted into a master’s program without a bachelor’s degree. A 4,000-word application, a series of sample writings, an interview, and I’m in!
I should have finally been happy now. I should have finally felt worthy and proud of myself. But it was the opposite. One of my mottos in life is: ‘Be brave.’ So one morning I went to the doctor and told her my head felt like it was bleeding. After that appointment, I underwent a series of psychiatric evaluations and doctor’s appointments, after which I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
I could have cried for the little girl I was that day if only we had known more about mental health back then. Growing up, I always knew I handled things differently than my friends. Anything would hit me a little harder. Rationality didn’t exist. OCD, self-harm, extreme anxiety, and sleepless nights were familiar feelings and experiences to me as a little girl.
I used to spend hours unknowingly trying to regulate myself on the swing set outside and it continued into my teenage years. No matter what the weather, I was outside at least once a day, just swinging with music in my ears, trying to come down or pick myself up. Knowing what I know now, I realize I was a fighter even then. I wouldn’t give in to whatever was on my mind. I had to find a way to survive.
A few months after I started taking the drug, I had a moment that I will never forget. For the first time in my life I heard silence. I sat outside and burst into tears as I realized that nothing else was on my mind. I could hear silence. The birds were singing in the distance and I could actually feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. For the first time in my life I lived in the moment. It was then that I realized that one of life’s simple gifts had been stolen from me.
When I write about mental health, it’s important to me to share wisdom that someone out there can find comfort or strength in. I believe we need to start looking at our mental health the way we look at our physical health. They are equally important. Everyone has a body they need to take care of by eating well, staying fit and taking vitamins. Likewise, everyone has a mind to take care of. Because if we are not doing well mentally, what drives us to take it easy on ourselves physically?
As much as bipolar disorder has been a burden, this overactive mind has blessed me with a life of reflection and wisdom. I was forced to teach myself coping mechanisms and really reflect. Take the time to ask yourself, “Why do I feel this way? What emotion am I feeling? What’s really stressing me out?’ When we’re not thinking, our heads get so crowded that we actually forget why we were bothering in the first place.
So instead of getting worked up about 1,000 things, do yourself a favor and identify what’s bothering you and why – one at a time. draw it Journaling often leads to arguments. Get a pen and notebook, open your page and just write over it. Remember, no one is looking over your shoulder as you read this. It’s just you and just your feelings. If that makes you feel any better, rip out the page and burn when you feel ready.
I’m an organizer by nature, so for me it’s like organizing my worries, putting them in boxes and knowing where they are so I can work on them without mixing them in with the 1,000 other burdens that gives us life.
Another beauty in life that helps me is belief in something higher. No matter how deep you get, if you believe in something higher, you will always have that to fall back on. That higher cause could mean trusting your lost loved one and knowing they have your back from afar; it could mean trusting your zodiac sign; study manifestation; your religion; your belief in karma; Your belief that everything happens for a reason; or even something as simple as seeing a shooting star. Whatever gives you hope, recognize the tremendous comfort it can bring you. Really believe in it and you will always have something to fall back on, even at your worst.
Also find out what makes you happy. I once read a book in which the writer described her grandfather as a man who listened to folk radio, built birdhouses in the fall, and collected stamps all his life. He knew who he was and what made him happy. Life is so busy these days that we forget to find our passions. We’re busy making dinner, keeping the house clean and making sure everyone else is safe.
find your passion Try this recipe, learn this language, study this course, build this birdhouse, even buy an easel and start painting – who knows, you could be the next Picasso!
Let’s not let life take over who we are. After all, we only have one life. So choose your circle wisely. I am fortunate to have a great family and an incredible group of friends. I feel safe and know that when my sanity is failing me, my people are worth their weight in gold.
When someone makes you feel worthless, afraid, or wasted, ask yourself why you allow them to interfere with your quality of life. Take a step back and realize that no one is worthy enough to disrupt your zen. When you’re feeling stressed about a situation, you realize that you’re a little overwhelmed and that you need time to come down – or should I say, step up. Take an hour away from the situation, or a day, or a few days… Others can wait. After all, no situation can be solved by solving it irrationally.
So realize how important it is to take some time off. Most importantly, spend time with your self-worth. Force yourself to believe that you are worthy and deserve love and just be happy. Take some time to reflect on how valuable you really feel. You may be surprised to find that your self worth is lower than you think.
If there is one thing I can wish for others, it is that they feel worthy of this life. If you are struggling, be brave and remember that you are too valuable for mental illness to ruin your time. Give yourself time to think, and if you think you need it, please go and get help, because this too shall pass.”
https://www.independent.ie/life/bipolar-disorder-doesnt-need-a-trigger-or-trauma-that-ordinary-life-can-bring-it-has-a-mind-of-its-own-42018753.html “Bipolar disorder does not need a trigger or trauma that ordinary life can bring. It has a mind of its own