I never know how someone will react when I tell them that I have bipolar disorder. I never know if they'll be scared of me, judge me or run from our friendship so they don’t have to deal with me. I have decided to share my story because I don’t want others to feel the same way I did. Nobody should have to feel like they need to hide a part of themselves and, no one should feel alone. If we all share our stories we can help remove the stigma that accompanies mental illness.
I was in my first year of university when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. At first it was hard for me to accept this. I was in denial that I had this illness and did not take my medication. I felt like I was the only person who had this disease, I felt alone. Although my friends and family were extremely supportive and reached out to me and tried to help me, I did not listen. I was living an unhealthy lifestyle and not taking care of myself.
Bipolar disorder causes someone to alternate between periods of depression and periods of mania. I have never felt severely depressed, but I do suffer from manic episodes. When I’m manic, my thoughts race, I feel invincible, I do not make sense and I do things I would not normally do. When I am manic, it feels impossible to escape it and, I need both medication and professional help to settle the mania. It is extremely scary because I cannot control it and it scares everyone that is around me.
I haven’t had a manic episode since December 2014, which is when, after three years, I had finally come to terms with my mental illness. It took three years of therapists, three years of different medications, and three years of being scared for me to finally understand that mental illness is not a scary thing, and is not something to be ashamed of.
It was hard for me to accept that I have a mental illness, but getting help can only make you better. I am so thankful for my friends and family for all their support. Today I live a clean lifestyle and love hanging out with my friends, I have never been happier. It is important to speak up about mental health so together, we can get rid of the stigma behind it. Having bipolar disorder is part of who I am, but it does not define me as a person.