My name is Emily, and I have Bipolar Disorder 1. I am a fighter, and a survivor. I am also an optimist, and a true believer that “hope springs eternal “.
After enduring a year of sexual abuse/assault at age eight at the hands of a neighbor, I began medication and therapy at age 11, but wasn’t diagnosed until age 14. I had my first hospitalization at age 15…my Sweet Sixteen birthday was spent in an adolescent lockdown ward. That same year I began electro convulsive therapy, as a last ditch effort to fight my pervasive depression. The treatments, along with medications, continued into my twenties. I was on medicines that required weekly blood tests due to potential liver toxicity, and medicines that caused me to gain 100 lbs in a year. Finally I was recommended to receive a vagal nerve stimulator implant, which was placed in my chest to help stave off the depression. It has helped.
I’ve had doctors give up on me, and tell me they’re out of ideas. I’ve been bullied and harassed, told to “get over it” and had my illness and experiences trivialized. I will never be able to quit regular therapy or discontinue my medications. Managing my illness is a continual struggle of finding balance between mania and depression. I don’t just struggle with everyday things like eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, balancing work and fun, and relationships… I also have to manage my numerous doctor appointments, therapy appointments, my struggles with daily suicidal thoughts, my extreme fatigue over constantly fighting my own brain.
I can’t miss a single day of medication, or else I spiral into darkness. Is it worth it? Definitely. Life is so beautifully complex, and without the darkness I would not appreciate the sunlight. Sometimes I feel like my emotional dial is turned all the way up. I feel things so much more powerfully, my world is a prismatic collage of sharply vibrant colors, some intensely dark, some pulsating with life and light, and everyday is a new challenge, learning how to navigate through a sea of torrid emotions. I am grateful for my life.
I have a certain quote written down, that came from Bruce Lee. Like it or not, it describes my life. “Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”