Whilst I sit here on the couch staring at my hot brew of tea, I’m contemplating whether I should write this blogpost or not. I’m constantly torn between expressing my feelings and thoughts, because that what’s my blog is for and not getting drawn too much into mental health blogging. I made the decision to write this post, because it feels good to get my thoughts out there and perhaps, I can reach a few people feeling the same way or reach people who can learn something from my insight into this mental illness I suffer from: Bipolar Disorder.
A mental illness manifests itself differently in every person, so I’m not going to pretend that this blogpost will be the solution to your troubles with mental health. I finally feel like I can write about this topic without being triggered. Further more, I feel like I know more about my own illness, which is good and it might be less abstract for people reading this.
Being told that you have a condition or illness you know nothing about, is hard to comprehend. I was previously diagnosed with several mental illnesses and to be honest, it made me very confused. I was diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder before they came with the diagnose I’m talking about today: Bipolar Disorder. I was absolutely shattered and distraught from hearing this. I had no idea what this meant, but this made me very scared.
The media has played a huge part in what my perception of Bipolar Disorder was. Every time there is a terrorist attack or a murderer who’s behaviour can’t be explained, they mention Bipolar Disorder. So my feeling with Bipolar Disorder was connected with being a bad person. This lead to incredible identity issues, who am I? Am I a bad person? Still to this day, I ask myself this question.
I felt overwhelmed by my psychiatrist and needed to read more about this. However, we all know that googling an illness, is not one the best things to do. I went over to the Mind website, because for me that is one of the most accessible websites with reliable information about several mental illnesses and mental health issues. My fundamental question was: What is bipolar disorder? I wanted to know what label I was given and if I could recognise things in myself. Mind UK told me the following:
“Bipolar disorder is a mental health problem that mainly affects your mood. If you have bipolar disorder, you are like to have times where you experience:
– manic or hypomanic episodes (feeling high)
– depressive episodes (feeling low)
– potentially some psychotic symptoms during manic or depressive episodes
Everyone has variations in their mood, but in bipolar disorders these changes can be very distressing and have a big impact on your life. You may feel that your high and low moods are extreme, and that swings in your mood are overwhelming.”
This made things a bit more clear for me as I had periods of extreme depression where I couldn’t do anything. Feeling down, upset or tearful. Feeling like I was worthless and I’d rather be not alive. Very agitated and easily triggered. I know this was depression, but I always found it strange that these feelings weren’t everlasting. Because my depression was followed with periods of euphoria. Very excited, very chatty, extremely confident, racing thoughts, higher sexual energy and easily distracted. After reading the information on the website I identified these periods as hypomanic episodes. I became more confident that this diagnose was more accurate than I thought.
So 9 months later, some things have changed and some things haven’t. I can honestly say that I’m in a better place with my mental health and when I say that, I might mean it differently than you might think. The intense feelings of mania, hypomania and depression are the same as a few months back. But my will to live has increased over the months and that’s something I’m rather proud of. I’m becoming stronger in the process and that’s amazing.
But on the other hand, I am not used to the sudden mood changes and the overwhelming feelings I get. I feel so guilty after a (hypo)manic and I feel so guilty to all the people who have experienced this episode. This guilt feeds into the depressive episode and it’s so exhausting, man.
The thing that really is weird to me, is the fact that they told me that I was born with it. That means I’ve been dealing with this for 25 years and will dealing with it for the rest of my life. I know I’m just in the beginning stages of learning how to deal with it and that I’ll be better in recognising the symptoms and how to react to it. I’ll be better in letting people know which actions are real and which actions are the consequence of my mental illness, but it’s quite difficult at this moment. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder type I, but it manifests itself more like Bipolar Disorder type 2. It’s literally so confusing.
It makes me feel quite insecure sometimes of the relationships I have, because I can be so unpredictable. It must terribly hard to be family of me, friends with me or have a romantic involvement with me. I have the greatest respect for everyone who is still by my side and I genuinely appreciate all the love and support. But right now, I’m so done with being bipolar or having bipolar. It’s eating me, not knowing how I will feel today or tomorrow. The mood swings have been terrible these past 3 weeks and however I’m feeling better with the day, it still absolutely exhausts me.
It’s like a rollercoaster ride from euphoria to depression. From being overconfident to having no confidence at all. From being productive to doing fuck all. From being a chatty dude to not being able to say 5 sentences in a day. It’s one hell of a ride and I hope I’ll manage this better in the future. I have therapy and go to counseling sessions. I have come so far already and I will continue to grow. But it’s not easy.
If you want to know more about Bipolar Disorder, I suggest you click here