Bipolar awareness week

quote: What defines us is how well we rise after falling

I’m re-posting this blog post as this week is Bipolar awareness week.

By Anon

About seven months ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Although this came as a shock, I had known that something had not been right for a while. I had suffered from deep dark depressions  for years which were followed by periods where I was unable to sleep for days. Although the diagnosis was scary, it did come as some sort of relief. Finally I had a name for what was wrong with me.

But I doubted the diagnosis, how could I, a normal 26-year-old who experienced a few highs and lows be diagnosed with something ‘crazy’ people had. I thought of all the celebrities  who had been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, Britney Spears and Kerry Katona were two names that came to mind. But how could my Doctor compare me with two celebrities who had clearly gone off the rails?

Since then I’ve been unable to come to terms with the diagnosis. Until yesterday I hadn’t spoken to anyone about it, mainly because the diagnosis scared me, but also because I didn’t want anyone to think differently of me.

But yesterday I was in a conversation with someone when for some reason I dropped my bombshell. We were talking about life and the obstacles that it throws at us, and suddenly before I knew it I mentioned that I had been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. I couldn’t believe that I had divulged such a private detail about myself. Especially something that I was so ashamed about.

But I guess it happened for a reason.

As it turns out my ‘secret’ wasn’t such a bombshell after all. In fact the person I was with was completely understanding, and had experienced their own highs and lows.

I guess the moral of the story is that I was so busy keeping my secret that it was in fact eating me up. Sure, I don’t have to tell everyone that I have Bipolar disorder- as it’s none of their business. But that doesn’t mean that I have to let it burn a hole inside of me either.

I’ve realised that it doesn’t matter if I have ups or downs, that is not what  defines me. What matters is that I pick myself up after each fall.

That in itself is liberating.

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3 thoughts on “Bipolar awareness week

  1. James Claims October 2, 2011 / 9:52 pm

    Definitely hit me too. But after seeing myself lose it over about 6 months, it made a lot of sense. It was interesting. Some of the people that I told actually said to me that they had always expected that. That came as a bit of relief. It also helped me accept my diagnosis too. In general, I accepted it rather quickly compared to other stories that I’ve heard. The diagnosis really provided me with a clarification as well as a subject matter such that I could research it and get better. Plus, having been diagnosed with a chronic illness as a child, I wasn’t really upset that I had another one, it was just the same old thing, only this time it wasn’t idiopathic, it was something tangible.

    I also didn’t associate it with being crazy. For a long time I had known that one of my personal heros, Stephen Fry, had bipolar disorder. Plus, being a mathematician I also looked up to games theorist John Nash who had schizophrenia, along with Kurt Godel. So I had positive images already about the fact that people with such debilitating conditions could really be successful and interesting people. It wasn’t until later on that I realized that people stigmatized mental illness to a very high degree that I started to regret having the diagnosis.

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