I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder when I was 15, 16, and once again when I was 18. Even though I now take medicine, I still struggle to accept my diagnosis. 0.01% of Indians live with Bipolar, and until recently, I found it hard to believe that I was one of them. For most of high school, I knew something was wrong with the way I experienced the world, but I rejected the possibility that the issue was Bipolar. I did not understand why I behaved as I did, and I attributed my impulsivity and distractibility to teenagehood. In fact, I strongly believed that I was oversensitive, for I had been since I was a young child.
When I see a beautiful painting, I cry. When I hear heartbreak, I hold hands and empathize. When I experience anger, I lie in bed for hours, unable to get up. I feel so deeply because I have bipolar with mixed episodes. For the past 2 years, I have experienced a depressive and manic state simultaneously/ with rapid cycling. I have sabotaged relationships, isolated myself from loved ones, and have endangered my life over a handful of times. Yet, through it all, I have tried to maintain an image of dignity and grace so that nobody could see what was happening inside. I assumed that my emotional dysregulation was my own fault, and I punished myself by pleasing people, yet keeping them at a distance. When I look back at the trail of havoc my mental illness has left, I feel disgusted by my actions. I feel shame and embarrassment, and I often have no respect for the person looking back at me in the mirror. I often think that I would have ended my life by now if it were not for my parents who care for me after everything I have put them through.
When I first began college, I experienced one of my most intense depressive episodes and accepted no help. The narrative that depression is a mindset, not a mental illness prevented me from asking for help sooner and from accepting my diagnosis. I gave into the story that depression and happiness are a choice. And I hated myself for not making the right one. I now know that my moods and manic episodes are not my fault. Bipolar Disorder, or Manic Depression, is a real ilIness that affects ones’ motivation, energy, and risk for suicide. People with Bipolar are not unintelligent or lazy or insane, they can be intelligent and kind but still suffer every day. If you see someone you know suffering from depression, please do not tell them to think positively. Urge them to get help, because this form of depression can be very tricky to spot and even scarier to live with. I am grateful that my loved ones urged me to get help, because now I can get my life back on track and learn to create a healthier relationship with this part of myself.
I love my brain, it’s uniquely mine
Even if understanding it takes all my time
There’s a valley of visions overlooked
So many dreams I could turn into a book
Moods and mania might push you away
But my love and ambition will make you stay
I paint the world as a beautiful picture
With pink, blue and sometimes a mixture