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.