“You are just looking for attention.”
“You are using that as an excuse to be (insert feeling/emotion)”
“Just be happy.”
“That isn’t a real thing.”
“You are just emotional.”
These are all things I have heard in my life when people have learned that I have Bipolar Disorder. I say have because I have a disease. I am not this disease. But when all of your illnesses are invisible you have to constantly justify yourself. You know the hardest part about living with this has been learning how few people understand mental health and how the perception is so very wrong.
I don’t have any physical symptoms so I must be faking. However, I do have them. The headache, the body aches, the exhaustion, are all symptoms. They stem from this disease fucking with my brain. But these are just seen as their own issues, not something from a mental disorder. And that is why those comments hurt so much because no matter what your feelings are invisible and minimized because no one can see the internal struggle.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II and anxiety when I was 19 years old. I am now 33 and to this day I still do not 100% understand it. I recently have had a challenge that I faced that was harder than I could handle with the coping mechanisms I have learned over the past decade +. I was required by my doctors to seek treatment in an intensive outpatient program.
Before I get into that I want to walk you through a typical day in my life. I wake up and have an internal dialogue with myself about how I need to get and how I can do this. I do the same things every day. I have to do my routine in the same order and it all helps me calm myself to be able to start the day and settle some of the anxiety. I am not always depressed, but I do however put on a face most days. This face is the fake smile, the over-excitement to see someone or the conversations I truly do not want to have.
By the end of the day, I am exhausted. Exhausted from having to be okay all day and not have a meltdown for any number of reasons. Exhausted from having to communicate with multiple people when all I want to do is work and listen to music. Exhausted from the constant noise and simulation that I am overly sensitive to.
Don’t get me wrong I do like being around people. I also like making friends and conversating, but sometimes I can only handle so much. I need to have control of so many things. (Something I need to work on. More on that another post) But I can control, for the most part, who I talk to and when. Except when I am at work and that is something I struggle with daily.
So, circling back to the program. I was initially resistant because it meant… Change! I fucking hate change and new things. I didn’t want to be apart of a group with people like me struggling through similar shit. Funny, because I spent so much time hating the feeling of being alone in this but now, I get a chance to be with others going through the same shit and I am like no ma’am.
Any who… Week one is done and damn it if I do not have a lot more work to do than I even thought. I have never been healed, just made well enough to manage. And this week alone has been eye-opening to how much healing I need to do in order to keep growing and learning how to deal with this disease on a day to day basis.
This blog was always to get out my adventures dealing with this and also offering the experience so that someone else who also feels alone and isn’t quite ready to jump headfirst into advocating for erasing the stigma and is privately dealing. So, I want to document this experience and the things I learn about what work I need to do.
If you are reading this and have similar experiences, coping mechanisms, or just want to say hi. Please reach out. I want to hear from you. I am always available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That is it for today.
Selene, your neighborhood Imperfect Bipolar Goddess