Bipolar Disorder Doesn't Define Who You Are
I have struggled for a few months to write this post. For fear of losing some friends, for fear that people will think I am weak, for fear people will not look at me the same. I know that being diagnosed bipolar doesn't make me weak. But that is what I felt/thought when I was told I ‘could' be. That is what I definitely thought at the time was I told I was. Sometimes I still fight that thought daily.
Until a doctor I had never met before asked me “are you sad?”, “you seem sad, and I don't even know you”. I was able to say “No”…until her second question where I choked out “at least I don't think so”, and I began to cry.
When it comes to feeling sad, it is a normal reaction to a situation that is other than a happy one. It comes and goes, here and there, through time. But when you try to be or seem happy to those on the outside, it becomes tiring, a lot of work and hard to keep that guard up. If you aren't already feeling ‘down in the dumps' , situations around you either become irritating, you try to stay away from negativity or you might just withdraw the best you can. Sometimes people just don't understand. They say you will feel better if you just do this or that, they just don't get it. What seems big to you, doesn't to other people, and when they say “its not a big deal”, its all the more frustrating.
Definition of Depression:
- -severe despondency and dejection, typically felt over a period of time and accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy.
MEDICINEa condition of mental disturbance characterized by depression to a greater degree than seems warranted by the external circumstances, typically with lack of energy and difficulty in maintaining concentration or interest in life.
If I go back, I can't quite tell you when it started. I think it had been going on for so long that I just took it as a part of it being the ‘norm' for my life. I did have times of laughing, whether it be my kids, my husband or my family.
Prior to this I was pretty happy-go-lucky. I had the normal stresses, I was more happy, than sad. I felt hopeful. Then something changed and I decided that while I may not be happy on the inside, I didn't have to let others know that. I don't share things like that on Facebook, on my site-or even with close friends at first. I didn't want people to think I was a burden, a complainer or sad.
For years I have had trouble sleeping; dreams that made me more tired when I woke up than if I had stayed awake. I started to dread bedtime and often stayed up into the wee hours of the night. I would dream I was always trying to get somewhere, yet I didn't know where, and I couldn't get there . And if that wasn't enough my mind during the day constantly was going. Always thinking, unable to focus, always jumping to the next project when I got bored with one. Its not uncommon for me to have 4 or more projects going because again “I can handle it”. My Mom always said “do one thing and do it well”, I opted to do more than 1 thing and prove I could do it… hasn't always worked out for me. I am driven to a fault. I want to be the best.
When I was younger I always had to know ‘what was next', ‘what was ahead'. I have always been a worrier by nature, and its only gotten worse in the past 3 years or more. I am emotional, anxious, scheduled. Again these are not bad traits, but all the time, all together they get to be too much. I talk a mile a minute, like sometimes I can talk non-stop. I always thought others around me just dragged with their stories lol…I guess it is just me.
My moods don't necessarily swing from low to high… its more like low and lower with a few little bouts of happy. If you want to read more about Bi-polar Disorder you can follow the link.
If I am being honest, I don't want to have a mental illness. I have had my share of health things, and I always seem to not be the ‘norm'. So I guess this fits right in. I think my biggest ‘issue' if you want to call it that, is that the stigma it carries. If you were to tell someone you had Parkinson's, a person would be ‘oh gosh I am so sorry etc', where as if you say I have been diagnosed as Bipolar—you are never sure of the reaction on the other end.
I have learned in these past few weeks that more friends have high anxiety than I ever realized. More are dealing with having a mental illness either themselves or a family member. I feel hopeful that once my meds are regulated, on track, I will be more like my old self-just, possibly better. No longer the door mat, no longer the ‘over pleaser', no longer afraid of what others will think…no longer any of the things I allowed myself not to do or be before. I will just be a better me.
I hope if you are struggling with a mental disease you will feel less lonely by me sharing my story. I have written this 2 or 3 times, and erased and started over. I hope I was able to get across what I intended to without being long winded or wordy. Also a word of advice; if someone confides in you that they have a mental illness, don't blame their current action or label their mood…well because you are bipolar, or depressed etc. It makes the receiver wonder why they ever would tell you in the first place. Mental illness is hard enough, let alone having to worry what others will think of you after they know. We just need your understanding is all.
Wife, mother, grandma, blogger, all wrapped into one person, although it does not define her these are roles that are important to her. From empty nesters to living with our oldest and 2 grandchildren while our house is rebuilt after a house fire in 10/2018 my life is something new each day.