Mental health is a topic not many people openly discuss. Celebrities in L.A. open up about their struggles, but the average person struggles to open up; there’s a stigma about having any mental health disorder, and the fear people will consider you crazy. Only recently have I begun to be more open about my own mental health struggles.
A couple years ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar depression, and I’ve always experienced anxiety. Having these issues is frustrating because I feel hopeless in controlling my emotions. I’ll be extremely happy one moment, and suddenly I’ll be depressed. It’s stressful. Sometimes, it feels like it runs my life. I feel like I’m on an emotional roller coaster where my emotions go up and down as they please. I take a mood stabilizer to help my moods even out, but no medication is magic. It takes a whole toolbox of things to live with it. You learn ways to try to relax, ways to make yourself happy, and having a support system is important. But there are times when your tools don’t work. I’ve learned I isolate myself or become absolutely needy, reaching out and bothering my friends.
Isolation becomes a huge problem because it leads to suicidal tendencies. I’ll think about it, consider it, and try to give myself excuses why suicide is the answer to my problems. Of course, it’s not a rational answer, and it will only cause pain to the people I leave behind; I often have to persuade myself that someone will even notice my disappearance and miss me…that there are people who actually care for me. I always second guess whether I’m cared about, it’s my insecurity.
Since suicide isn’t a true answer, even if I have attempted it multiple times, cutting has become a bad, unhealthy habit. People think cutting is a way to get attention, but it’s really about relieving all the pain and tension I feel from the depression, and because I’m frustrated from not being able to control my moods. Reaching out to friends is my way of trying to get help before the cutting begins. Just talking to someone helps. A hug helps. Hearing a caring voice helps.
Reaching out is sometimes difficult, especially when I begin isolating myself. And you know what I’ve discovered? There are suicide prevention websites where you can chat with someone online when speaking on the phone isn’t convenient, or even possible. Even if you’re not suicidal it’s helpful.
Another problem of having bipolar depression is how quickly small problems turn int “world ending disasters.” I quickly go from being fine to snow balling a small problem until I’m certain my life is over. Add general anxiety to the mix and you have a potion for disaster. My mind reels, and I don’t think rationally.
Bipolar depression is hell for the person plagued with it. Many times I’ve been told I’m over dramatic, I whine too much, and I’m too needy. But consider this: you wake up one morning happy and content. You don’t have a care in the world. But someone says something rude or negative to you…or you say the wrong or awkward thing…or a small problem arises. Without your choice, your mood drops. Without being able to fight it, you feel your world crashing around you. You involuntarily begin crying, and you can’t understand why you’re suddenly so depressed. You want to scream, cry, hurt yourself, and just end the pain. It’s scary, uncontrollable, and leaves you with a hopeless feeling.
Doctors will tell you the simple reason of why it happens: there’s an imbalance of chemicals in your brain. But that doesn’t make it easier. As I said, medication isn’t magic; it can’t fix your problems, and it sure won’t fix you. Despite that, don’t let yourself feel hopeless. I know, it’s easy to say it and sometimes hard to think that way. Trust me, only during my good moments can I think that way. I’ve started becoming interested in advocating for mental health, and those who suffer with any mental health issues. I want to bring attention to it, and I want to help people feel comfortable opening up about it. It’s important. It should be discussed. People need to be told they’re not alone. There are people that DO understand, and “help will always be given…to those who ask for it” – Albus Dumbledore.