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.