When it hits, it hits hard. There are no warning signs, no red flags, it is just like the flip of a switch and boom.

I'm not me anymore.

Of course, logically speaking, I am still me. But I do not feel like me. I do not really feel much of anything except the suffocating amount of sadness that I am trying to swim through.

It is like a wave, a giant wave of depression, suddenly crashes over me out of nowhere. There is no There are no life perseveres thrown. There is no safe place. There is just suffocation, drowning. Every time I open my mouth to scream it is met with a mouth full of water that chokes me even further.

If this does not paint a pretty enough picture it's like this. My body is still walking like me, my mouth still talking like me, but it is not me that you see. I am watching it all unfold helplessly. Locked in the back of my mind. Chained down to a chair, duct tape over my mouth, and tears streaming down my face as I try to cry out for help but no one can hear a thing.

So when the darkness hits, and I am watching helplessly from behind my eyes, I am not seeking attention. When my personality suddenly changes, this is not a dramatic act. I am just not in control. I am not thinking straightly. I am not me. Remember, me is drowning at the bottom of the ocean, or chained down to a chair. So no, I am not an "attention whore" when I lock myself in my room for days or when I do something drastic and destructive to myself to try to stop the noise in my head. I am not a "debbie downer" when I sit somberly with a glazed look in my eyes at a get together with friends. Remember my friends; there is much going on behind the scenes that you cannot see.

What you do not see is me fighting, fighting hard against the demons that are trying to drown me and keep me silent and caged. You do not see my arguments with these demons and my attempts to destroy and overcome them.

So yeah, there may be days where I do not leave my room. There may be days when I do not say anything. There may be days where I relapse into self-destructive patterns. But that is not because I am doing nothing to fight against this. It is because I am busy in a realm that you cannot see, fighting for my life.

I still remember the day they diagnosed me. "Bipolar two disorder."

NO,no, no, no, no! I was in complete denial. I already had a long list of diagnoses's that labeled me as a passenger of the 'crazy train' and I certainly could not afford to be labeled as bipolar on top of that. Anorexia, depression, anxiety, and now bipolar. What was wrong with me? Was I even human anymore? I felt more like a diagnosis more than a person.

Bipolar disorder is displayed in society as people totally off their rockers. The unstable. The unlovable. The crazy. And now, now I was one of them.

If I had not scared enough people away with my mental health issues, this would be the last straw. I might as well be locked away in a mental hospital for good.

But you see, a diagnosis is merely that, a diagnosis. A label. But not a label to condemn me. A label to help my treatment team help me get better. I had to change my perspective, this was not a curse, this was a blessing. We were finally heading in the right direction. I had been spiraling out of control for so long. Lost and confused and never understanding why I felt the way I did. Like a monster, not a human. But now, we had an answer. As my treatment team has told me many times "we do not treat the diagnosis, we treat the person." And now, now we could finally treat me, the person, not the diagnosis.

So I am "bipolar." So what? Guess what else I am? HUMAN. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a dancer, a cheerleader, a published writer, an optimist, an inspiration to many, and I am me. No diagnosis can take that away from me. And no diagnosis can dehumanize me. Nothing, not even a terrible disease, can make me any less me than I am. And me, me is a beautiful thing to be.

Bipolar disorder is not an adjective to be used loosely, “She’s so bipolar.” And it is not something to be displayed in the media as a monstrous human. All it is, simply, is a diagnosis. Ever been diagnosed with anything? Strep throat? The flu? Anxiety? Diabetes? It is one in the same. We are not our diagnosis's. We are humans who struggle with different demons, different ailments. Same war, different battles. But one thing we all have in common is that we are warriors, fighting to find the light.

Bipolar two disorder. A diagnosis that devastated me at first. A diagnosis surrounded by stigma and judgment. A diagnosis, that changed everything.

Once I realized, a diagnosis is simply a stepping stone to finding healing, I no longer felt anger, but relief and thankfulness. My medication was changed, the therapy approach was changed, and I, I was changed. For the better. A diagnosis that is looked down upon and made fun of, is a diagnosis that saved my life.

After this diagnosis, I started getting better. My diagnosis was not a death sentence, it was a ray of hope. An answered prayer. The new medication made me stable, the new approach in therapy taught me how to cope and understand myself better.

I am a living paradox of happiness and sadness. I have ups and downs. I live in a dark world some days, and a bright world full of hope others. But because of my diagnosis, I know that the darkness does not last forever, and the hope I feel on the good days is real. I have seen the light at the end of the tunnel, a light that my diagnosis showed me. A light that I never knew existed until I began to understand the way my brain works.

I am the happiest person and the saddest person you will ever meet all in one, and I am still not quite sure how that can be. But I accept it. I accept It for what it is. I accept me for who I am. And I have nothing to be ashamed up. The chemical imbalances in my brain are not a choice, but fighting back is.

Mental illness is not and never will be a choice, but recovery is and always will be. And that is a choice I will make everyday.

I am not my diagnosis. I am beautifully and imperfectly, me.