I’m Sorry

To the people of my past & present, to the souls I’ve hurt and confused, to the folks that know me as careless, emotional, selfish, and unforgiving: I’m Sorry.

And you’ll probably never know how sorry I am that much of my life has been spent processing unnecessary emotions that have influenced my decisions and behavior. I’ve said so many things that I never meant, made so many decisions that were not reasonable, and acted in ways even I did not understand.

I grew up obsessed with the notion of “following my heart”.

A particular conversation that I look back on was when I mentioned to my dad that I was thinking about breaking up with a boyfriend and he said “If you’re even thinking about it, you probably should.” Sound advice at age 14, when “sticking it out” in a relationship wasn’t necessary (and way to go, dad, because I found the man of my DREAMS). But guys, I woke up ready to cut people out of my life A LOT. I ended a lot of relationships out of nowhere because I would just feel…different. I didn’t know why and my efforts to understand were met with failure.

This happened frequently, in all aspects of my life. Something would feel wrong, misaligned, uncomfortable. Despite the lack of logic, I would turn my life and my situation upside down trying to find contentment again.

My senior year of high school, I finally found “my people”. Amazing friends that loved and embraced my weird personality. We spent every spare moment together, venturing out for fast food after school, joining clubs together just for fun. But somewhere along the line, life felt unbalanced and I became unhinged, ruining these relationships that held a top spot in my heart. I said a lot of hurtful things, missed weddings, and burnt bridges that will probably never be 100% repaired.

Later in life, there were days I called off of work because…well, no reason in particular. I was just so overcome with emotion that I struggled to function.

The same happened at the opposite end of the spectrum. I had days when I would wake up feeling insanely confident. Confident enough to be reckless, to insist I didn’t need anyone but me in life, confident enough to walk away from beautiful friendships and treat strangers like peasants.

I was so inconsistent, especially in my high school years, that I can understand how I pushed a lot of people away.

My heart breaks for those days and I struggle with memories of the people I’ve hurt in every capacity.

Because the truth is, I love each and every one of you. That is ME. I’m a lover, even of people that have hurt me. I care so strongly for everyone I come across and truth is, I’d probably take a bullet for an “enemy” because I see the love and light in everyone. I see your strengths and I pray for your weakness. I’ve never felt capable of offering much to this world, except love, and it hurts to know I have not always offered that side of me to people.

My diagnosis of Bipolar Depression has answered the question that’s been stuck in my head for so long: “Why did I do that?”
I feel like I finally understand that there was always more at play than just my emotions and judgement.

With that said, it’s not an excuse for my behavior in the past, and it is 100% on me for not portraying myself accurately, seeking counseling, or trying to mend broken relationships.

But its given me a small sense of peace. Because truthfully, I’ve always felt like I was a bad person. Like I was a terrible human just desperately trying to be better, still awful at my core, forever running through the list of hurtful things I’ve said and done in the past. Forever destined to ruin friendships, complicate my marriage, struggle in parenthood, all to someday put the world at peace with my death.
(Sorry this is so intense…its just where I ended up!)

Anyways, newsflash: I’m a good person.
I know, I’m just as surprised as you are. And now, I feel like I can accept that and move on, treating my mental illness(gosh I still hate saying that though) and working my butt off in therapy to be a more consistently loving human–more ME.

So look,
I’m really sorry if I have contributed to pain in your life. I’m really sorry if you’ve missed the side of me that loves wholeheartedly, does not judge, and hopes for your success. If you’re reading this, and even if you’re not, I’m rooting for you and I care about you. Whether we are acquaintances, friends, or enemies–you have a place in my heart.

And to the folks who have stuck it out and managed to love me despite the million reasons I’ve given you to leave: don’t worry, your letter is coming.

Start Fresh

I’ve been on guard with myself lately, demanding that the last few years of mental struggles were all a result of whacky hormones and insisting that a diagnosis not be made until my most recent baby was a year old.

So when a psychiatrist diagnosed me with Bipolar Depression, I closed my mind and put up my walls, refusing to accept there could be more going on than Postpartum Depression.

It couldn’t be me. I couldn’t struggle with bipolar. My sense of self is so important to me…and accepting this diagnosis would mean accepting that all those years of “following my heart” were spent navigating with a broken compass.

The psychiatrist recommended medication but supported me when I insisted that we reevaluate in a few months.

But as I sat with the questions he had asked me and the memories of my childhood, I slowly began to realize and accept that he was right. There is no denying that I struggled with emotions as a child, that I behaved differently at times, that I regretted big decisions just days after making them. There is plenty more to it, but those symptoms and memories really stuck out for me.

But accepting this diagnosis meant accepting that I’d been broken for the past 25 years, that my decisions in life were not all mine, but clouded by the influence of mental illness. Accepting the diagnosis means accepting that people may see me differently, treat me differently, and trust me differently. Accepting and sharing the diagnosis means opening myself up to the community of people that believe mental illness isn’t real. And accepting medication means accepting that I cannot do life on my own, I need a little help.

So I refused. I insisted. I’m fine. Nothing is wrong.

Eventually it set in that if I didn’t accept the diagnosis and the medication, that wouldn’t make me a person without mental illness. It would make me a person in denial and forever struggling as a result.

I’ve spent a long 25 years begging myself for some consistency in life, always reaching for something to hold me down, to make me stable, to keep me from feeling so high sometimes and so low other times. I always thought that yearning for contentment would be satisfied by a great husband, by becoming a mom, by achieving my goals.

Now I realize that what I’ve always been reaching for…is me.

Guys…my mental state has been a ROLLER COASTER for my entire life. I don’t even know who “me” is without the constant tugging at my heart to be happy or sad.

As hard as it is to accept that I have Bipolar Depression,–that I AM bipolar–that a stigma is going to engulf me and change my relationships, I am so excited to finally understand my past and to have a chance to move on from that, to start fresh with new clarity.

I decided to pursue medication for the sake of giving my husband and children some consistency. When I mentioned that to my Mommy, she pointed out that I deserve consistency for myself. And she is right! I have been battling this forever and it has been hard!I’m thrilled at the prospect of finally feeling better, finally having answers, and finally finding myself.

And I’m just here to welcome everyone on my journey. Because a lot of people spend their lives plagued by mental illness but are unwilling or afraid to admit it and seek help, so was I. It hasn’t been easy. And I’m sure navigating it is going to be tricky for the rest of my life, but if my journey can touch yours and help you along or help you understand how this feels for someone diagnosed with Bipolar Depression, I’m happy to help.

Oh, and side note: I’m not ashamed of “being crazy”. Screw that. I’ve built an amazing life despite living with Bipolar Depression. I’ve fought hard and I’m really proud of that.