There is a glint of
survival in my eyes that
everyone can see.
Society sometimes tries to make us ashamed of things we cannot control about our bodies, but in the cases of our minds, the stigma is especially strong. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder (bipolar disorder type II), and I cannot control the amount of white matter in my frontal and prefrontal cortices, nor can I change my genetics. However, I can take as best care of my psychological health as possible, throwing my heart and soul into recovery. I can show the world that silence is silly. I’m living my life out loud, joyfully and successfully, despite having this neurodivergence. Here’s to making the silent heard, and to making the invisible visible, because I am unashamed and you can be, too. Happy world bipolar day, friends.
This post is part one of two about my life with bipolar disorder, and this post will be split between quotes, my poetry (given the designation of e.f.a.), ideas for coping skills, and lessons from my experience in a psychiatric hospital that sum up some of my experience living and walking this tricky, but beautiful, path.
What I learned in a psychiatric hospital when I was dealing with suicidal thoughts in April 2014
- It’s uncomfortable to ask someone why they’re in a psychiatric hospital. If they want to tell you, they will. Everyone has a different level of comfort with sharing.
- Not being able to have a lock on the bathroom or bedroom door is more humbling than I can explain in a few words.
- The doctors and nurses really do have your best interests at heart, but it can be difficult because they have to look at your actions in the scope of your disorder, which feels really strange. In daily life, we try our hardest to see people as people, not symptoms of their disorder.
- Hospital food is quite strange-tasting and if you have dietary restrictions, the kitchen staff are likely to raise their eyebrows at you, but then they will help you.
- “Quiet time” takes on a whole new meaning when you don’t have your cell phone or your laptop.
- Group therapy is helpful for some people, but it often turns into a complaining session.
- Eliminating gossip from your conversations is an easy way to increase the amount of love in your relationships.
- God is everywhere. You will hear prayers of all types and religions. People feel closer to Him, people feel far away, people don’t feel anything; it all depends on who they are and where they are in their journey.
- There are some sad stories and there are some stories of triumph, too.
- Friends and family members who support rather than stigmatize the person with mental illness can make all the difference. I know they have for me.
- Music is an integral part of daily life and it was strange not to hear it at all for a few days, other than at specific activity times that focused on listening to a song or two.
- It is really hard to be a human being. Be kind and loving to all you meet. Everyone is trying their best. Give people a break, for you don’t know their whole story, just a sliver of it.
you will be in the middle of a busy day when you halt everything suddenly and think
this is not what i imagined my life would be like when i was younger
it is my great hope for you that after that realization, you will smile and breathe out peacefully
because it’s more multifaceted, fascinating, beautiful, and joyful than you ever could have imagined
i wanted to die when i was 20
i saw no purpose for my existence, neither end goal nor raison d’être
i thought my life had already seen its highest joys and i would be stuck with the lowest lows from there to the end of my days
i was wrong
slowly but surely, the urge to die passed away
it was replaced by a passion for life
barely flickering at first, but now burning brightly
my life is not what i imagined it would be like when i was younger
– infinitely, e.f.a.
[image description: A blackout poem – that is, a newspaper that is covered in sharpie except for the words that I used to create a poem. It says “sun transform with shadow freely”].
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.
– Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)
I’ll be writing more about these specifically and individually over time because these coping skills help me to live my best life. They are worth the time, effort, and resources given to make them work. My life is far more stable now than I ever could have imagined.
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
- Handouts (activities)
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Handouts (activities)
- An example of CBT in action: My post on cognitive coping
- Successfully getting through school despite mental health problems
- Other self-care techniques
- Find a therapist or psychiatrist in your area
- You deserve to not go through this alone.
nudge me to
but then I
sun all the time
– The dangers of black and white thinking, e.f.a.
Soon, I’ll be sharing more details in part two about what my life looks like with this daily, but in the meantime, I hope you’ve enjoyed this preview. Bipolar disorder is nothing to be ashamed of, nor is any mental illness. With treatment and a ton of hard work, I’m living a great life. You can, too. I am no stronger than you. You can learn to take care of yourself or care for your loved one with it. Feel free to reach out if you’re wondering how to begin.
I still get very high and very low in life. Daily. But I’ve finally accepted the fact that sensitive is just how I was made, that I don’t have to hide it and I don’t have to fix it. I’m not broken.
– Glennon Doyle Melton
… The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
– Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
7 thoughts on “World Bipolar Day: Pieces of My Story”
This post had a soothing flow to it. Loved the poems, especially the last one. Hang in there and wishing you well!
I would love to read more about bipolar and your experience with it. These poems…these poems were downright amazing. Even the ones that seemed so “simple” had so much to share!
I am so honored – thank you so much! There will be another post in a few weeks – keep an eye out 🙂
Thank you for shedding some light on a very misunderstood illness.
Wow – thank you so much.
Emmie, I am so, so glad I stumbled upon your blog! You are such a talented writer, and we seem to have much in common. I was also a Divinity student: I graduated with my Masters of Divinity last May. I am 25, so close to the same age. I have several chronic illnesses. I also was recently diagnosed Bipolar II. I very recently started blogging about my bipolar. You are an inspiration!!
Kat, you have absolutely made my night with your lovely words x 3!!! Thank you so, so much. It does sound like we have tons in common. Wow! 🙂
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