Bipolar. I remember when that word was first thrown at me. I remember the anxiety that followed. I remember not being able to sleep the next few nights because I feared that word and what it meant.
I didn’t tell anyone this diagnosis for months, I hid it from my family and my friends. I think that maybe they still wouldn’t know if it was up to me. My mother found my medical papers one day where that word was stated and from there the whole family found out. Maybe it is for the best, no one left in the dark. But I can see it in their eyes and hear it in every word, that they all don’t look at me the same way.
I don’t look at myself the same way. I had been battling so many other problems before I was labeled bipolar. I already felt like a failure. I found myself pathetic for not being able to get out of bed some days and for feeling like the world was out to get me. Then when this all came along it just made me feel ten times worse. I felt weak. I felt crazy. And I had this big fear in my chest that everyone else would see me this way too. I wasn’t wrong. A lot of people see me like they see people in the movies or on TV.
When you see it on the big screens Bipolar looks like someone jumping around the room one minute and crying in the corner next. This isn’t a completely false depiction but without further explanation, it can create a really negative stereotype of people with this illness. There are indeed times of mania. Sometimes I will be listening to music in the car, I really enjoy lyrics and find myself drawn to bands that make me feel and relate. As I belt out the lyrics, within seconds I go from laughing hysterically to crying so hard I have to pull over. This isn’t how it always is though. A better depiction of this disease would show someone with high mania levels for weeks or months. This could look like excessive cleaning, or exercising and other neurotic, unnatural to that person, behaviors. It would then show how in the matter of minutes or days, or maybe due to a trigger that mania disappears and turns into something else. In result that person turns into someone else. Now, for weeks or months there is no more mania and instead maybe anger or depression. This person that seemed so high before is now lower than low. They can’t get out of bed. They stop eating, stop going to work and even attending school.
The stereotype for people with Bipolar disorder is offensive and hurtful. Not every day am I just bouncing from one emotion to the next in a blink of the eye. I am not a ticking time bomb waiting to go off if someone says something mean. It's a matter of not being able to decide what I want to feel. It is a matter of extended periods of time trapped in a bubble of dark emotions or uncontrollable highs.
My life is full of these unexpected ups and downs. I can never plan them, I can only work with and around them. It's been a few months and I'm learning to cope with this more and more each day. But some days it's tough. And others I feel as though I'm just like everyone one else and nothing is wrong.
I like those days.
Maybe one day I’ll be able to sit on this ride with my hands in the air instead of covering my mouth while I hold myself from getting sick.