Monday, September 6, 2021

The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive

Let’s get down and dirty on how my mental illness has affected my life. The highs and lows. The stupid choices I have made, and how they have altered my life. The good choices I have made and the difference I am now trying to make.

Now, reading about and experiencing bipolar is totally different. Unless you are bipolar, or close with someone who has it, it is hard to understand. While I do think people try and understand, I also think that it’s hard to truly have compassion and understanding without truly understanding. 

Bipolar, also known as manic depressive disorder, is defined as a disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows and manic highs. Now that sounds simple enough right? But what if all the examples you have are from TV shows and movies? You know, the ones that only show the worst of the worst cases. Now what do most people associate bipolar with?

See, you only hear about mental health when it is the worst case scenario. You don’t hear about the bipolar mom, nurse, grocery store clerk, I could go on and on. This is because we don’t talk about mental health, this can apply to multiple mental health disorders. So I ask again, how is it 2021 and mental health is still taboo? 

For me a manic episode involves not sleeping, paranoia, racing thoughts. Unlike what movies or TV commercials show, I don’t stay up all night cleaning. No, I stay up pacing, driving around, spending copious amounts of money. I start feeling like people are out to get me. From family to coworkers. I’m fidgety, anxious, and paranoid. I start imagining things and believe they are real. Just this last time I was manic, I decided to start a new hobby of candle making. I don’t even use candles, I use a diffuser. The kit currently sits unopened in my closet still.

Now for a depressive episode. For me the depression hits harder than my manic episodes. When I fall down the rabbit hole I don’t just crash, I crash and burn. I can’t physically get out of bed. And when I do drag myself out I usually only make it to my couch. I don’t shower, I don’t clean, I stop taking care of myself entirely. I go through the motions to make it from day to day. I isolate myself from people that truly care and love me. I feel like a burden. I feel alone, not because I am, but because I push people away.

 I’m gonna be honest, I wouldn’t be here today without my support system. And I honestly don’t deserve them. My mom is and always will be my number one supporter, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have said some awful things to her while manic and ignored her and pushed her away while depressed. My dad is another huge supporter of me and even though sometimes he doesn’t understand he tries, no matter how many times I have pushed him away. Friends are still here for me, despite me disappearing for months. 

The key for me is medicine, therapy, and my support system. Most of the time my support system notices if I’m slipping before I do. Without them I would really be struggling. They have helped me in some rough situations.

 But we also need to be more open about mental health. Less criticism of people realizing they need help and reaching out. We need to be there for one another. Listen to each other. Mental illness is still an illness, it doesn't matter if you can’t see it. It is very real to us who suffer. Mental illness isn’t black and white, and we as a society need to start looking at it with open eyes. How else will we make a change?

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