Ever been on a roller coaster that had lots of twists and turns? Lots of ups and downs? That’s what it is like living with a Bipolar Disorder.
For a long time I was diagnosed as having Major Depressive Disorder, so yeah, in other words, I was just depressed a lot. I was also diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. The symptoms of each of those fit me perfectly. It wasn’t until about 6/7 years ago that I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2. I didn’t take that news very lightly and I was upset about it for quite a while. I began to feel worse about myself. I had to research what Bipolar 2 was and I wanted to know how it differed from Bipolar 1? The difference is pretty simple now that I understand it better. The difference is that one with Bipolar 1 experiences mania, which are periods of great excitement, euphoria, delusions, and overactivity. Someone with Bipolar 2 experiences hypomania which is just a milder form of mania. The severity of the manic episodes is what differs between Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2. The “mania” I deal with is much less severe.
I look at the hypomania like the roller coaster. I go up and am in a great mood and am on top of the world. I feel powerful and confident. I’m overly happy, laughing, joyful, etc. I can make great decisions and feel almost “perfect.” I’m the best I can be at that point. I am in just a logical state of mind. When that roller coaster goes down, it goes very quickly and I then find myself in a horrible mood. I begin feeling depressed, miserable and question my existence. In these down periods, I begin to feel I don’t matter. The self-harm urges creep in, the suicidal ideation begins. At this point, I am in an emotional state of mind. Now I don’t personally always go from one extreme to the other. It’s not SO black and white all of the time. Most of the time I find myself in that gray area now. In that gray area, you have a little bit of a logical mind and a little bit of emotional mind and it balances out. It has taken a lot of therapy and renewing of the mind to get there, even a little bit. I am certainly still learning and have a long way to go probably. You’re basically going to find me in one of those 3 areas. The black, the white or the gray area. I never know if I will go up or down. I’ve learned to cope better with that as time went on. In my opinion, I’m not really that different from the rest of the world. What makes me different is probably just how extreme my mood can change from one minute to the next and not to mention, I’m the one with the label/diagnosis.
I’ve learned to accept my diagnosis for what it is and I deal with it. It’s not easy at times but it’s possible. You have to find what helps you stay in that gray area. It doesn’t always have to be so black and white. There are several different things that help me to stay in the gray area. For example, writing gratitude lists, journaling, talk therapy, reading the Bible, Praying and music are just some things that help keep me grounded. I’ve had to find what was right for me. I had to figure out what coping skills worked best for me. We all need to have healthy coping skills to get through our everyday lives. Take the time to figure out what works for you.
One thing I do know is I am not my diagnosis. It took me a long time to realize that. I am simply me. I am not ashamed of my diagnosis but that doesn’t define who I am as a person. That’s the most important thing I have learned over the years after hearing my diagnosis, that doesn’t define who I am….and it doesn’t define who you are.