I was diagnosed with Bipolar Type 1 last fall after years of struggling in silence. It wasn’t until January that I finally accepted my diagnosis while getting treatment in a two week program at a Swedish Medical Center. The day after my 22nd birthday was the day I checked into the hospital and it was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever gone through. At that point, I still hadn’t accepted that there was anything “wrong” with me. Growing up I always knew I was different and just thought that I was a horrible, weak person. The first day at the hospital was the hardest for me and I spent most of the day crying my eyes out. I was locked on a floor with a bunch of strangers with varying degrees of sanity and people were asking me questions I’d never been asked before. Surprisingly I was very honest and let all of my dark secrets pour out of me for the first time in my life. I think the biggest reason I was so open was because of the other patients. Hearing them talk about their own thoughts, issues, and mistakes made me feel less alone and I knew they wouldn’t judge me for anything I said. The people I met during my time there were some of the most amazing, intelligent, and compassionate individuals I have ever interacted with. It was the hardest and most emotionally draining two weeks of my life, but it’s the best birthday present I’ve ever been given.

After I was released from the hospital, I started drawing for the first time and it’s now become something I do every single day. My anxiety levels have plummeted because I now have a way to drain all of the both negative and positive thoughts/images that infect my mind on a daily basis. I decided to share my art with everyone for a couple of reasons. It gives my family and friends a little peek into what’s going on inside my head and helps them understand what I’m feeling in a visual/colorful way. More importantly, I’m sharing my art as a way to help others who share similar thoughts or struggles to feel less alone. It makes me so happy when people living with bipolar, as well as those who aren’t, tell me they can relate to my drawings.

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