Thank you for writing and sharing this. I am 24 and bipolar. I’ve been hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and tendencies four times in the last 8 or so years and have struggled with many of the aspects of mania and depression that you described. What you said about it being difficult to imagine having a future at times — that really hit home for me. I sometimes wonder if I will be up and down forever and if one day a depression will blindside me and be too much to bear, as it has almost been in the past. I am happy now, but what about a year from now? Five years?
I try to write about it and talk about it as frequently as I can to help normalize and destigmatize it, but it’s hard and takes a lot of courage. Not everyone is accepting of mental illness — I’ve had an ex boyfriend tell me he didn’t want to be with me after I was hospitalized, and have had other friends tell me they didn’t want to hang out with me unless I could be happy.
You’re right that it doesn’t suck as much as a lot of people think, but I would also argue that a lot of people don’t understand how hard it is. How do you explain that some days it’s just impossible to get out of bed, to take a shower, to eat? That your thoughts are sometimes so dark and heavy that they’re crippling and you can’t go to school or work?
I think you’re right, though, that the answer is in just talking about it more and trying to have a positive outlook as much as we can. I try to remember that if I hadn’t struggled with all that I have, I wouldn’t be as strong, confident, and compassionate as I am today. Being bipolar has, I think, made me a better teacher and a better human.
Feel free to reach out to me if you ever want to talk and share more about each other’s experiences. Thank you again for sharing.