In my experience, bipolar depression has never been the simple caricature of someone who is happy one moment, then angry in the next, then sad with no real explanation.
It’s taken me years to fully understand how my bipolar depression functions. Once I was able to distinguish my mental illness from my true self, life got a little better.
I’ve learned that who I am is not determined by my mental illness, despite my mental illness being an ever-present part of me.
Being able to understand it has made all the difference in moving past those moments of existential crisis and suicidal thoughts.
Many people experience this in different ways. By describing the aspects I experience, I hope to dissolve stigmas that surround those like myself [using “mental illness” in the title felt almost as if I was using a bad word].
I also hope to help others who experience similar issues feel that they are not alone in their struggle.
I become very excited and enthused about something I am doing in life or an opportunity that has occurred
- Usually this occurs about once a week
- Typically it occurs at the end of a bad day, when I decide I don’t want to be upset, angry or sad
- I think about my life’s potential and every single little thing that I want to accomplish. I think about every aspect of the world or my life that makes me happy.
- I feel inspired and strongly desire to accomplish many tasks at that very moment
- Sometimes it occurs after learning news that is exciting to me
- In this case, the end of the day comes with a big crash, leading into depression
It is a constant feeling of Apathy, Self loathing, Insufficiency/Hopelessness. It typically occurs for me at the end of the day, or when I am unable to sleep at night.
- I sleep instead of attending class and ignore homework assignments
- My room becomes a mess and a poor living space
- I let my personal health goals fall into the background
- I generally stop caring about how I look, what (or if) I eat and how I act
- I make reckless decisions that could hurt myself or others
- Typically I seclude myself to my room to avoid hurting others
- Self Loathing
- I feel that I am a poor human being
- I feel that I have only negatively contributed to the world
- I dwell on my mistakes and wrong doings
- I strongly feel that I am hated by everyone around me and am an annoyance
- I feel that my presence is unnecessary and unwanted
- I avoid mirrors and images of myself
- Things that I enjoy become things that I question deeply. For example, when I’m in a depressed state and think about writing for this, I feel that what I can say can never be enough to make a difference or help, and that it is a pointless venture. I question”Who am I to think I can make a difference? Who am I to think my words are important enough to write out?”
- Insufficiency and Hopelessness
- I feel that I am not good enough in all aspects of life such as school, work, personal health goals, personal relationships and friendships.
- I begin to think about my future, and the aspects that are unknown to me (despite being unable to control them) start to madden me
- I question those around me as to why they bother with me. I feel insecure in personal relationships
- I feel that I will never accomplish what I wish to
- I feel misunderstood and misinterpreted with my intentions. With that, I question why I should attempt something if it will always be seen as a failure
- I consider suicide as a way to end what I then feel is a pointless venture
- I consider self harm as a possible way to feel something or end struggling
- I feel that there is no reason for my life to continue
- I feel that my life constantly revolves back to these feelings of hopelessness, and that because of that, there is no reason to continue the cycle of unhappiness
- I contemplate suicide, balance the pros and cons, and typically convince myself to wait to see how I feel the next day in case things feel better
Me, Separate of My Mental Illness
- I am excited for the potential of my life
- I think about all the things I’ve yet to experience, the places I want to travel to as well as all the people I’ve yet to meet
- I love to think about everything that I’ve yet to learn in all aspects of life. The potential for knowledge and growth is always there, and it’s exhilarating to me
- The unknown aspects of my life are exciting, as they mean I am constantly on a journey and not settling on one destination – mentally, emotionally or physically
- I am genuinely happy
- I deeply desire to help those around me see their worth and inner strength
- I enjoy exercise and treating my body with respect and love
- I accept who I am as a person. Though I am flawed and have made mistakes, I understand that I can correct those wrong doings and typically move forward. I also can acknowledge the things I feel I have done well and what I am proud of
- I focus on positive aspects of my life as well as the positive aspects of the world
- While I am conscious of negative aspects to the world and issues that are occurring, I am not deterred by them or find myself losing faith in the world
- I enjoy smiling and laughing, even though it can be incredibly (and unintentionally) obnoxious
- I love who I am
- I want to express to those around me how much I love, care for and appreciate them, and describe the positive aspects that I see in them (which I also consider the world to also see in them)
- I want to live. I understand that I will always eventually feel better
- My Why in life is to help those around me, to show kindness and to do my best to be a decent human being.
Knowing myself and my heart has given me something to hold onto when I feel my mind is overcome with the voices of my mental illness.