I can’t really begin to describe how it feels to “go manic” other than it feels like your brain is being taken over and that you have this heightened sense of paranoia. For me, that meant that the government was watching me, studying my every move.
I feel that at my core, I’m a pretty positive guy. I don’t play the victim to my illness or my circumstances. I’m resilient and can handle anything. Maybe my life is predestined to be one of constant struggle. I don’t know. I do know I’m more than exhausted from being irrationally positive all the time. It’s draining and I can’t do it anymore.
Not long ago, I began to feel the darkness creeping in. After several good months, I was caught off guard when I felt the depression returning. Bipolar depression can be very stubborn so the onset is always scary. Will it be worse than last time? Will it last longer? Will it destroy more? Not knowing how hungry each bout of depression or mania will get can be paralyzing. Even when I understand what is happening on an intellectual level, my emotions can still take on a life of their own.
I began to show symptoms long before I (or anyone) acknowledged there was a problem. Over time, my life became a predictable pattern of extreme emotional instability and a lot of damage control. It wasn’t until my external life began to reflect my internal chaos that someone spoke up.
Years after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and gaining the tools and support to manage that disease, on some unconscious level, I stilled fundamentally believed that losing weight would “fix” me. The fly in that ointment was that whenever food was restricted, the underlying issues were still bubbling, just below the surface.
I now remind myself that my strength and courage are miracles and it’s okay to let myself shine. Overcoming shame took at least a lifetime’s worth of recovery work. I wonder how long it would have taken to find peace if stigma didn’t exist. Maybe someday someone managing a mental illness will know.