I’m Bipolar, I take anti psychotic medication.
I’m not crazy, I’m not stupid.
I am misunderstood.
I won’t ruin someone’s life by being their friend, but they get confused when sometimes I’m up for anything, and others I completely avoid them.
It’s nothing against you I promise, it is all me…well…my mind. I can’t control it you see, but during hard times I’d rather hide away from it all than face the most simple things in life. That’s really how hard it is.
I wouldn’t wish my illness upon anyone. And if someone’s struggling, I hope they reach out, I am their friend, they can talk to me.
But they need to remember when I’m finding it tough, I might find it hard to say the right things to them, I find it hard to say the right things to me too.
I hope my friends stop making me feel like I’m a burden. I already feel that way, I need friends too.
And I hope they don’t tell me I’m normal and what I’m feeling is how everyone feels;
Cause to me, that makes me think they’re telling me I’m weak. I know they’re trying to help by trying to make me think I’m just like them, but I’m not, and that’s okay.
I’m happy, I am. But sometimes I get these strange thoughts. I’m not psycho, I won’t hurt a thing. Sometimes I think I should hurt me, but I do try my hardest to understand why that is. I don’t hurt myself any longer, I’m stronger than that.
Just because I don’t make it out of the house, it doesn’t mean I’ve given in and I’m weak. It means I’m fighting other thoughts, so I hope my friends can be proud of me for that, and not disappointed because I didn’t make it out to see them.
I’m medicated yes, and it helps me. Unfortunately I’ll likely be on my medication for the rest of my life. It isn’t 1 single bout of depression or mania, this illness is in my mind, this illness won’t simply disappear one day. If I tell my friends I think I’m better and I’m trying to come off my medication, I hope they realise this is unhealthy, I hope they remind me I need my medication.
My illness doesn’t mean I can’t do the things you do, I can still hold down a job, I can still work hard. I can still gain a qualification, I can still have a family, I can love, I can grieve. I am like anyone else in a lot of ways, sometimes I just struggle more than necessary.
This is not to say everyone else doesn’t struggle. Everyone does, in different ways. But I hope my friends understand my issues really can and do come from nowhere. I don’t need a trigger – it just happens, and that doesn’t make me bad, or special. It simply makes me – just me.
“It is estimated that 2 to 7% of people in the United States suffer from bipolar disorder. Almost 10 million people will develop the illness sometimes during their lives. About half of these will never receive the correct diagnosis or treatment.” (http://www.bipolar-lives.com/bipolar-disorder-statistics.html)
“– In Australia there are around 238,957 people with bipolar disorder.
– In the United Kingdom it is approximately 723,248 people.
– In Germany, around 989,095 people have bipolar disorder.
– In Canada, bipolar disorder affects around 390,094 people.
– In Iran, bipolar disorder affects around 810,038 people.
And for both India and China, each have somewhere between 12 – 15 million people who are bipolar!” (http://www.bipolar-lives.com/bipolar-disorder-statistics.html)
Lots of people have bipolar, but bipolar isn’t simple ups and downs, it is a life altering illness; it’s insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, tiredness, self injury and suicide, numbness, depression, hallucinations, and so many more!
It takes a long time to be diagnosed bipolar, it isn’t something that is simply stuck to you because you went to the doctor and you told them you’ve been up and down over the year, it’s years worth of emergency admissions to psychiatrists and hospitals, it’s a chronic history of symptoms of mania and depression, sometimes co-existing as one.
I’m fed up of people saying “oh you have bipolar, so you’re okay right now right? Do you get psychosis? Do you see things?”
Well no, I don’t see things myself, but some people with bipolar do, I’ve had delusions, but these are different to hallucinations. I am not the same as someone with depression, though I may be able to relate. I don’t have a regular physical/treatable illness that will go away, it probably won’t, but that’s fine. I get when people put mental illness next to an illness like say diabetes or cancer and say the individual should be treated just as well, but please remember cancer and diabetes can be physically tested for and treated according to biology/chemistry/physics, mental health is complicated, it’s psychology, a brain scan can at times show results and indicate certain things, but this is rarely a test used to diagnose mental health.
“DBSA bipolar disorder statistics from 2000 shows that people with the disorder suffer through as long as 10 years of coping with symptoms before getting diagnosed accurately.
Only 1 person in 4 receives an accurate diagnosis in less than 3 years!”
Bipolar is known for suicide attempts. If you could get into my mind you’d understand why. Its over a year since my last admission to hospital – im doing well. Yet whilst I was admitted many times, my psychiatrist at the time didn’t reckon my illness had gotten any worse. I was pleading for help and didn’t get it. Instead I got labelled an attention seeker, and that couldn’t be any further from the truth.
“30% of individuals with bipolar disorder will attempt suicide during their lives, and 20% will succeed . . . . Suicide is more common in bipolar depression than in unipolar major depression, panic disorder, or even schizophrenia. HOWEVER, THE SUICIDE RATE GOES DOWN DRAMATICALLY WITH ADEQUATE TREATMENT”.
I count myself lucky, it took just over 4 years to be diagnosed, but many wait years, simply suffering through their symptoms. I learnt to live with the symptoms. I know it’s not gonna disappear like I originally hoped but I am okay with that. My medication helps me live as normal a life as I possibly can. And I’m doing just fine.
“Bipolar disorder, sometimes referred to as manic-depressive disorder, is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that affect a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. These shifts in mood and energy levels are more severe than the normal ups and downs that are experienced by everyone.” (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/bipolar-disorder-among-adults.shtml)
I’m actually struggling right now, but I have the support I need, and the ability to remain positive most of the time.
I know a lot of you don’t understand, but please try your best to accept this is real.
Below is a list of symptoms a person with bipolar in a manic episode may experience;
Feel very “up,” “high,” or elated
Have a lot of energy
Have increased activity levels
Feel “jumpy” or “wired”
Have trouble sleeping
Become more active than usual
Talk really fast about a lot of different things
Be agitated, irritable, or “touchy”
Feel like their thoughts are going very fast
Think they can do a lot of things at once
Do risky things, like spend a lot of money or have reckless sex
These are what someone may experience in a depressive episode;
Feel very sad, down, empty, or hopeless
Have very little energy
Have decreased activity levels
Have trouble sleeping, they may sleep too little or too much
Feel like they can’t enjoy anything
Feel worried and empty
Have trouble concentrating
Forget things a lot
Eat too much or too little
Feel tired or “slowed down”
Think about death or suicide
Most people will have times in their life where they experience some or all of these problems, don’t confuse that with symptoms of a mental health condition. Please remember, we aren’t psycho, we can lead normal lives. You wouldn’t even know most of us are ill, however; please also remember to be kind. Don’t tell us to “get over it” – believe me, we definitely would if we could.
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Thanks for reading!
Photo credit: Cleopatra Photography