I began developing bipolar disorder at 16. It started with noticeable depression. I cried a lot. Almost every day before school. Almost every day at school. Some people asked me what was wrong, some people told me I was being ridiculous and needed to stop, some people began to ignore me altogether. My first suicide attempt was during this time.
My first year of university, I began to struggle with mania. I was impulsive, sometimes to the point of endangering myself. I became obsessed with the idea of religion, with delusions of a god speaking with me through “signs.” Some friends became concerned about my abnormal behavior. Some, again, began to ignore me. My mania and depression were so out of control that I lost my scholarship and was carried back home like a broken bird.
I saw the university doctors multiple times, and although the word “bipolar” was tossed around, they never officially diagnosed me because it just wasn’t something they wanted to deal with.
I fought for help but with parents raised in strict religious households, they were uneducated. My mother didn’t and still doesn’t believe in the grim reality of mental illness. Since I was stuck at home, I resorted to harming myself as a self-treatment. This caused major tension between my mother and I, resulting in myself being kicked out and forced to deal with my episodes without any support.
I tried to put myself out in the dating realm because I was lonely and desperate for comfort, but I quickly discovered that most guys don’t want to be with someone struggling with a mental disorder. I was never let down easy, either. I was called “crazy” and “emo” and “too intense” and “dull.” I was stood up over and over. I was more lonely trying to ask for comfort than I was cutting alone in my room.
Years went by before I diagnosed officially at the age of 21. Accepting the diagnosis was a difficult adjustment, but it’s been much easier to control with the proper support system. It’s been five hard years since I was officially diagnosed. The road has been long and will continue to be long ahead of me. Each relapse episode is different and more challenging than the last. I’ll always deal with the hopelessness, the irritability, and the delusions to some level. That’s out of my control. But with therapists and psychiatrists who care, I can control how I choose to deal with the inner turmoil.
Sometimes I’m told that my story is a sad one. Sometimes I’m told that it’s a miracle I was able to make it through the things I’ve been through. But I don’t give my credit to miracles. I did it myself, with a proper support system. My bipolar disorder tried to break me. My experiences tried to break me. The people who refused to associated with me because of it tried to break me. But I fought, and I’ll continue fighting, because all they’ve done is strengthen me.
To quote DJ Molles, “She’s strong…Did you mistake her for something else?” #StrongerThanStigma