I have started writing again. With all the free time I have, I’ve started viewing it as an opportunity to do the things I used to do but haven’t had time to do in a long time, since I somehow became an adult. Adulthood seems to just pop up out of no where.
I was digging through my writing folder on my computer and just happened upon a really important piece to me that I forgot about. It isn’t the most beautiful piece of writing. In fact, I guess it’s not really a “piece” of writing, but more of a letter. I’ve always been the kind of person that is much better at writing than speaking. The letter I wrote was to my parents trying to describe my every day process as an individual with Bipolar. I had just been properly diagnosed (finally) at age 22, and was still going through the motions trying to find the proper medication etc.
I felt very hopeless.
I'm sharing this letter because I feel that to advocate for mental illness, you need to be honest. Honest with yourself and honest with others.
"I'm terrible at communicating things exactly how I want to through speech. So I write. Right now, I'm in a low. The lowest of lows possible. It feels more than a depression. It feels like Hell. Like Hell on earth. All I have done for a week is cry and sleep. Cry and sleep. I've gone out a few times to try and force myself to feel better but that doesnt work. I feel the same way, but I'm just out of the house. I don't interact with my friends and I don't add to the conversation. And when I'm driving or alone, I cry. There's nothing else to do. I want to shout "help me!" But I've learned in the past year that no one can help me. I'm just really really really trying hard to figure out what the purpose of this illness is in my life. I feel guilty, anyway. I can't even explain how guilty I feel that you have to deal with a daughter that adds so much negativity to your lives. I try so hard to be stable, but I can't and it is so messed up that a person has to try so hard to be sane. Daily life is such an effort. There is no motivation. Because whether I'm in bed sleeping, or out with my friends, I'm still feeling worthless, tired, guilty, and depressed. Every single move I make is a conscious effort. Every single sentence I speak and every move I make is a conscious effort. This is not only in the depression, this is in every day life. If there was a magic pill that could make me feel better, that means I would have to get up, go across the room, and get it. I wouldnt even feel motivated enough to get out of bed and take it. I feel numb and disconnected from the world.
Then there are the highs. I dont have very many of them, but when I do, I usually feel...not like I can do anything, but rather like I'm drunk. I feel incredible motivation to do everything I didnt do while I was in a low all at once. I don't go on spontaneous shopping sprees, spend too much money, or any of the other things that are explained in mania's by psychiatrists. I just do the exact opposite of things I wouldnt do when I'm in a depression and then some. Like getting up in the middle of the night and cleaning, texting my friends in the middle of the night, randomly buying my friends things. I sometimes also feel shakey and like my heart is going to beat through my chest. But that is usually paired with anxiety. I usually have a short high and then an anxiety attack.
When I'm feeling anxiety, I can actually feel my heart beating throughout all of my body. Every part of my body pounds harder and harder. Anxiety has influenced all portions of my life. I freak out because I feel so much pressure, as though someone is pressing hard against my chest. I cry, I throw up, and I shake uncontrollably. I usually have an anxiety attack once a week. Anxiety also contributes to work. I can't concentrate, I put off projects that are too stressful, and I fail to meet deadlines because I feel as though I can't complete the task.
There's also the irratibility. Some of the things that come out of my mouth I dont even intend to say. I go into one room feeling fantastic and even little things like having a glass of warm water that I wanted to be cold, or walking into another room can make me really angry. I wish I could change it so bad. I just want it to stop. Why would anyone want to have someone like that in their life? So if something makes me irritable, I end up saying something rude or obnoxious. Then I end up leaving wherever I am because I've either started a fight, or I feel guilty and ashamed because I feel like I can't control myself. Like what the hell is wrong with me. It feels like everything makes me irritable. Like I cant control even one aspect of my life.
I know they say that the bipolar is just an aspect of your life, just one tiny tree branch in a persons tree. I think that's bullshit. The bipolar contributes to every branch of my life whether I like it or not.
These things feel as though they are getting worse as my life goes on and as I get older. I can remember when I was younger when I think about it where I would have anxiety and cry myself to sleep and be shaking. For no reason in particular other than the fact that I hated myself. Even as a child. I never really liked myself when I was younger. This contributed to me hating life and everyone else.
It's just a big cycle. Everyone says to just think about tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a new day. And maybe tomorrow is a new day. But that doesnt mean this feeling will go away and disapear forever. It means that it is only temporarily gone. "
I read through this and almost smile. Yes, smile. All the fears and questions I had (What is the purpose of this illness in my life? No one will ever love me. Why would anyone want to be in my life? This feeling will never go away. I'll always feel this way....etc) have all turned into positives. All my struggles and fears and devastations - ALL - have turned into positives in my life. I know now that this illness has a purpose - mental health advocacy. It has given me strength as an adult. I think about how I felt in the past and my life now. My goal was always to live a stable life with a purpose. I now have both of those things. It's amazing. After reading the letter, part of me wanted to stand up and scream "I DID IT!" Sure, I still go through hard times - it's not like I'm "cured" - but since that moment in my life, I have grown so much. I have been through medication trials, cognitive therapy, counsellors, and education. I have learned to never give up and always have hope. Because the hard times I had in the past when I wrote that letter, as well as the hard times I have gone through since then, have all molded me into a person who is strong, a person who has hope and faith, and a person who wants to work against mental health stigma.