Some people ask me "What does it feel like to have Bipolar Disorder?"
Well, imagine waking up some mornings asking yourself to literally try and get out of bed. Why? Because something in my brain tells me ‘what is the point of living?’
I am such a happy person by nature but this disease, which rarely goes noticed, is almost as bad as having Cancer. People say its unfair to compare the two. I say you would never know until you suffer from either disease. Both very deadly and a battle people go through their whole lives. Bipolar disorder is one of the biggest reasons for the amount of suicide in the entire world. Fighting this disease makes you tired and hopeless at times and worst of all, most people suffer not knowing they have the disease.
I feel blessed to have been diagnosed at such a young age. I am now so much more aware of my sickness and my everyday struggle to stay healthy. It can be somewhat amazing at times, mania makes you feel things that only a drug could do for others. I call mania my ecstasy high. But the come down and things you do while manic are horrible. Shopping obsessively, sexual destruction and total lack of control of your brain. I wake up most mornings on a good day, happy and grateful to be alive. Sometimes minutes or hours later, I am crying for no absolute reason at all. Something might have triggered me, but I still 11 years later am not completely aware of my triggers.
I literally am so honest and open about having bipolar disorder, because I might say or do something one day that allows another person not to hide in this hell anymore. Without medication and therapy, you might as well sign a death wish. I believe I should not be looked down upon; mental illness has a stigma, because you only know what its like if you have it!
My best friend Sammy once told me, "Jackie, when you’re in it, you’re in it, and when you are happy and not depressed you actually don't even remember what happened or that you were just in it."
She was describing the disease I have and how it feels to be so unaware of one’s self. It’s 2015, there should not be anymore ‘elephants in the room’, only support, hope and love for one another (sick or not). We are all the same. Everyone has something that they need to talk about, nothing is small or big, everyone has issues. Treat others how you want to be treated, we are told as children-but rarely does that happen. I need to be the change that I wish to see in others.
The reason that I came forward and spoke up about my illness was after 11 years of not believing I could have a mental illness that controlled me. I then realized that I would always lose this battle. It’s bigger and stronger and hates to see me happy. I would spend 75% of my time fighting to wake up and go to bed feeling ok. I needed someone like me to fully understand what I had was not my fault and I would be ok in the future.
Throughout my childhood, I went to therapists, psychiatrists and doctors. None knew what I had. ADHD or ADD was what they always thought. Then I found drugs and alcohol. I spent 4 years getting high and drunk and kicked out of high schools and fighting everyone I knew to leave me alone. Finally after attending many rehabs and treatment centres in the States, I decided I wanted to get help with the support of my entire family.
After 3 years of sobriety, I got diagnosed bipolar disorder and now this is my everyday struggle/not addiction. I have spent my whole life as an empathetic person, always crying when I feel someone else's pain. So as of lately, I have been doing a lot of soul searching and trying to fix myself along with the help of some friends, my boyfriend and of course my family.
I have one person that has literally saved my life two separate times, in the depth of my illness and depression. My brother, Jon, is my best friend and my higher power. Not once but twice when I could not find happiness anywhere he found it for me. I am grateful everyday of my life that he saved me. I am grateful literally to wake up and be alive.
When I am feeling down, it looks like a truck has hit me, I am paralyzed and cannot move. My high is as if I am running in the clouds, but my everyday is a one-day at a time sort of thing. Just breathing and making sure I am living my best day. I am grateful for my support team, and my whole life, because most people cant or don't know how to get help. Bipolar disorder can be turned into strength. I hope for the stigma to disappear one day and hopefully The Dialogue Projects will help in doing so.