Trigger/Content Warning: Mention of past suicidal thoughts.
Today (March 30, 2019) is World Bipolar Day. Tomorrow (March 31, 2019) I turn 30. These two things may not seem to be particularly related at first glance, but having World Bipolar Day fall the day before my birthday is incredibly meaningful to me. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2013, but my struggles with mental health started way back when I was 13. While every birthday is cause for celebration, there were so many times throughout my life that I thought I’d never make it to thirty, so this birthday feels really special to me. There have been many times in my life when I’ve been incredibly depressed and considered suicide. Because of this, I was certain I would never make it to 30.
Today, on World Bipolar Day, I want to reduce some of the stigma associated with Bipolar Disorder. I want to be honest about the fact that I’ve experienced pretty much all of the symptoms classically associated with mania and depression. You know someone who has spent money recklessly, hallucinated, been delusional, and experienced psychosis. You know someone who has been so depressed that I’ve considered ending my life rather than go on in pain. You know someone who experiences mixed episodes, which means I experience all of the heightened energy associated with mania while having extremely negative and harmful thoughts associated with depression at the same time. You know someone who has Bipolar Disorder and, honestly, I’m not so different from you.
I have good days and bad days. Since last May, I’m thankful to report they have been mostly good days. But over the course of the past five and a half years, there have been many days where I could barely get out of bed or where I couldn’t sleep at all. Conversely, my good days look pretty normal. I smile and laugh and hang out with my friends. I read. I play with my dog. I eat. I drink tea. I write. I plan for the future. I have Bipolar Disorder, but that doesn’t mean that I’m violent as is so often stigmatized. People with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. I have Bipolar Disorder, but I’m still a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a niece, a friend, and a dog mom.
I have Bipolar Disorder and I have struggled with depression and anxiety for 17 years, but tomorrow I will turn 30. I have made it 17 years when there were times I thought I’d never make it for another single day. I’m not usually that into birthdays, but I’m definitely into this one. Tomorrow, I will turn 30 and that by itself is such an accomplishment for me.
To learn more about World Bipolar Day, visit http://www.worldbipolarday.org.