I Never Thought My Biggest Fight Would Be Within Myself

I Never Thought My Biggest Fight Would Be Within Myself

Dear me, you are normal, you just need a little bit of help and that's okay.
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My name is Ashley Bowden and I suffer from Bipolar Disorder.

Bipolar disorder, also sometimes referred to as manic-depressive disorder, is a mood disorder in the person has extreme mood swings from depression to mania. Their sleep, energy, behavior, and thinking all change during their highs and lows. You go from feeling overly happy to very sluggish and hopeless. There is no known exact cause of bipolar disorder, but genetics, environment, and brain structure can be linked.

The name of the disorder is pretty self-explanatory. The person affected goes through two different extreme moods. Mania is described as your high phase. You have large amounts of energy and just keep going. People typically lose sleep during the phase and lose touch with reality. The depressive episodes are your low phase. You lose all your energy, motivation, and any interest in your usual daily activities. These episodes can last for any amount of time from a few days to even months. This disorder is also linked with suicidal thoughts.

The past couple of weeks I wrote two articles. One was a letter of my unmedicated self to my medicated self and the other vise versa. You can find those here and here .

Everyone has their own symptoms and ways in which they react to their phases. When I'm suffering from my manic phase I'm very edgy. I'm easily agitated and have a lot of paranoia about those around me and feeling like I'm always being watched.

I feel invincible at times so the thoughts I have are sometimes suicidal. Such as thinking about jumping in front of a movie car, crashing my car, ramming my head into a wall, or there was even a couple times I thought about choking myself or wondering what it would feel like if I stuck a knife in my gut.

To me, it seemed kind of normal. I was just curious and in such a high energy phase that I felt like I needed to do something. I've wanted to trash my room and break things. When my family would irritate me I could feel my body shake wanting to physically hurt them or anything. You don't understand how much pain I feel inside trying to stop myself, it's exhausting. I remember one time I sat in the corner of my room stabbing a pillow over and over again as hard as I could, ripping the material apart. In the end, I was just frustrated even more, shaking as I wanted to keep stabbing into something, even if that something ended up being myself.

My depressive phases are bad, but not as bad as they could be. I am able to still function through them, most of the time. It helps that I have a job that I love, so despite wanting to curl up in the dark, I'm able to still smile and have some fun. It is still hard though. I wake up in the morning, actually feeling kind of scared to get out of bed. Sometimes I just lay in bed at night and cry or wish that I could disappear for a little while.

I never really have any suicidal thoughts when I'm feeling down. It's more just me feeling scared or tired or a tad hopeless. There are a few times I wonder if it would be easier to just end it, but it's never an overwhelming feeling.

It's almost sort of funny, to me at least, that before I was diagnosed my sister would always say I just had two moods. Happy or mad. I was good at hiding the sad part. It's crazy that she ended up right. However, it's also frustrating to me. She was right. I only ever really feel the two moods. Yet there is a whole spectrum of emotions, and I don't get to experience them.

Bipolar disorder is hard. It's very real and I hate seeing posts making negative comments about medication. Some people may be able to find alternatives, but for most, including myself, it's the only way to keep us safe and functioning. I never wanted to be a person that needed meds to be "normal", but I am, and I'm doing okay with that. I've accepted it.

I may have a mental disorder, but I'm just the same as you. I just need a little help.

Cover Image Credit: Kinga Cichewicz

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Tanya Gold, Your Fatphobic Article Is Uneducated And Arrogant

BREAKING NEWS: Women come in all different shapes and sizes!

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Just recently, Nike released a plus-size mannequin at one of their stores in London that showed off their plus-size leggings and sports bra. And, because we live in a world where being fat or overweight or obese is somehow the worst thing in the world to some people, this has sparked a lot of discussion.

Tanya Gold wrote an article for The Telegraph saying that this mannequin “cannot run" and is “likely pre-diabetic" and “on her way to a hip-replacement." Not only is Tanya's article uneducated and poorly written, it's completely fatphobic and embarrassing.

What I would like to know is this: why can't plus-size women work out in Nike clothes just like a size 2 woman? People want to scream from the rooftops that plus-size women are fat because they don't exercise and when companies FINALLY start catering to plus-size women with clothes they can EXERCISE IN, people lose their minds and think that they're promoting obesity.

What are plus sized women supposed to work out in if they can't even wear Nike leggings without being fat-shamed?

Would you rather them wear jeans? Overalls? A parka, maybe? What about a garbage bag?

Let's also discuss the fact that being overweight doesn't equal being unhealthy, just like being at a “normal" weight doesn't make you healthy. Did you ever stop to think that some women have diseases that make them gain weight that they, in return, can't lose? Some women can eat salad for every single meal, seven days a week and they still can't lose weight.

Let's all say this together: SIZE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FITNESS. Being thin doesn't equal being healthy and being overweight doesn't equal being unhealthy.

Everyone (and yes, I mean EVERYONE) should be able to be comfortable in their own skin AND in their clothes.

You can't sit and pout saying that fat people don't care about their health and then when they want comfortable clothes to wear while they're EXERCISING, hell has frozen over and how dare Nike cater to people who aren't a size 2.

Tanya, be honest with yourself. You aren't anywhere near a size 2, either, so where is all of this coming from? Are you self-loathing? Do you have some kind of internal fatphobia?

Pick a side, Tanya. You can't hate people who are overweight because you think that they aren't exercising and then when they do exercise and they get clothes that cater to them, it's all of the sudden wrong and horrible.

We are damned if we do, damned if we don't. As if women (and men) weren't already being shamed enough for being plus size, we're now being made to feel bad because a brand caters to our size so we can wear the same clothes all of the other sizes can wear.

Thank you, Nike, for making your brand more inclusive for all shapes and sizes so we can ALL feel confident in our clothes.

I think it's worth mentioning that Nike released their plus-size line in 2017 AKA 2 years ago... Why weren't you mad then?

Oh, and, Tanya Gold, you might want to stop smoking since you're all about being healthy, right? You don't want to get lung cancer or anything, do you?

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