Not many of you can see that I’m sick. But I am. It’s something that’s subtle. I have Bipolar Disorder.
I was diagnosed with my mental illness in my junior year of high school, and I remember being completely terrified of it. But as time’s gone on, I’ve learned not to be afraid of something that makes me who I am. I’ve learned to embrace it.
Many of you, unknowingly, use ‘bipolar’ as a word to describe someone who has crazy emotions, and has a negative connotation. That is not what ‘bipolar’ means. Being labelled as ‘bipolar’ is something I’ve have to deal with for a while now. I have to take medication for my disorder, and even then, the medication doesn’t cure it. It’s a disease; a disorder. Bipolar Disorder is a life sentence…there is no cure.
It affects relationships with everyone. I’ve lost friends because I have little to no control over my emotions, even on meds, because these people think I’ve gone crazy. Some have taken advantage of me because my judgement is skewed during manic and depressive episodes. I really found out who my true friends are. My family’s been understanding and supportive, giving me the push I need, but it’s still hard to relate to them…they don’t have Bipolar Disorder, and I do.
What does Bipolar mean? Bipolar means crying so hard it hurts, dropping to the floor because I physically can’t stand anymore. It means bursting into tears at the littlest things. It means not being able to sleep at night. It means waking up in the middle of the night hungry as a side effect of medication, and gaining weight as a result of eating so much. Bipolar can also, completely contrary to that, mean that I don’t eat at all. It sometimes means I snap at the ones I love without meaning to do it. It means that sometimes, I can’t get out of bed on a certain day, I stay in my room all the time or need to be dragged out of bed. It means that I literally cannot function. It means being afraid to get married and have children because I know these children will have my disorder because it’s genetic. Bipolar means that I’m overworking myself in school and at work.
On the flip side, Bipolar means that I’m happy. It means laughter. It means jumping out of bed in the morning, ready to seize the day. Bipolar means that everything looks like it’s going to be okay. It means sunshine. It means strength. Bipolar means that I’m not overworking myself in school, but not completely blowing it off. Mania is that time when I feel light, healthy, and there’s not a care in the world…but it’s also dangerous. I might go off my meds because I feel so good. There’s a fine line between feeling good and being healthy.
Bipolar means I sometimes get irritated for no reason at all. It means frustration because I can’t control my emotions without help. Sometimes, I feel weak and worthless because I am on medication that helps me. It’s taken me a long time to overcome these feelings. So next time you think about telling me that I’ve gained weight or I look tired, think of how I might feel about it. It’s something that I struggle with on a daily basis, and I don’t like it when people point out that I look a certain way. I might laugh it off and say it’s stress, but here’s the truth: It tears me apart on this inside. It hurts.
I’m not looking to be treated differently because of my disorder. Other than the fact that I’m sick, I’m just a normal broke college student. Treat me as such, but always keep in mind that I’m struggling with a mental illness and might need a push here and there to keep going. Remember that I’m still strong, and that my mental illness is not who I am but that it’s something I have.