“Oh my goodness. You’re being so bipolar.”
That’s what I used to say when someone acted happy and okay one moment, then angry and frustrated the next. If someone’s mood suddenly switched from carefree and on, to grumpy and off.
But then I was diagnosed with bipolar, so I stopped using that phrase.
bipolar is so much more than acting moody.
Since I was diagnosed just over a year ago, I’ve experienced each and every level and symptom of the mental disorder. I can vouch for the world that bipolar isn’t just a girl “on her time of the month,” or a boy “being moody and dark.”
Here are a few scenarios of what bipolar has looked like for me through the past year:
- Feeling really great and buying all of Anthro. Okay, obviously I didn’t buy all of their clothes. But I definitely clicked the “add to shopping bag” button three too many times when perusing their sale section online.
- Feeling really down and making an excuse not to go out with friends. This happened repeatedly during those weeks when I felt off. I was ashamed to spend time with other people, because I feared I would lower their mood, too. So I simply stayed inside. A hostage to my disorder.
- Feeling awesome and ordering a last-minute ticket to Florida, but then feeling depressed when I actually get there and not enjoying the vacation. Last summer, I asked for a ticket to FL as a birthday present from my parents. I felt so great and was elated to reunite with my dear friend Gabbie. By the time the trip rolled around, I was having an off couple of weeks, so I was sluggish and spoke little and felt down the entire trip.
- Feeling very inspired and writing three songs in one day. As a creative, I love to tell stories through music (especially guitar, sometimes ukulele). During moments when I’m high, I feel inspired by God and the people around me and my past, so I usually crank out some songs. Of course, when I’m down, I can’t bring myself to play a note.
- Feeling absolutely nothing and watching copious amounts of Criminal Minds episodes back-to-back. While I do enjoy the occasional binge-watching off my latest favorite shows, it’s not the same when I’m down. When I’m low, watching TV is about all I can muster myself to do. I feel like I can’t do anything and I feel like I am nothing, so I do nothing.
bipolar looks different for everyone.
Manic and hypomanic episodes are different for everyone, and so is depression. Everybody responds to their mental illness in different ways.
Since my diagnosis, I now encourage people to do a few things:
- Be aware. . Be aware that 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental illness. Be careful of things you say and do, because it can be hurtful to call people “bipolar” if they’re moody, “OCD” if they’re organized, “depressed” if they’re just sad.
- Educate yourself. Read books, watch documentaries, browse articles. If you or someone you love suffers from a mental disorder, learn about it. Even if you don’t know anyone, it’s likely you will meet someone who does.
- Be compassionate. At the end of the day, we are still people, just like you. Sometimes there really isn’t anything you can do but pray for healing. Sometimes all we want is for you to sit beside us. Ask how you can help, but don’t be offended if there answer is, “There’s nothing you can do.”
We are fighters.
I fight every day to be as healthy as I can be.
I try to eat well, exercise often, meditate daily, pray continually, work hard. I do my best to perfectly combine my medicine and balanced lifestyle in the hopes that a deep, deep depression, or a crazy, crazy manic phase won’t overtake me.
I fight to share my story on here and in person,
so that people can understand 1) there is nothing wrong with people who have mental illnesses and 2) we are human, too. I try to be transparent and honest and open about my personal struggles–bipolar and otherwise–and my walk as a Christian.
Please, if you are ever curious about my testimony or about how my disorder has changed me, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email or DM my LL&G Facebook page.
I’m here to help you learn and grow and share. And I’d love to have a conversation with you.