Better Life Through Chemistry: My Personal Battle with Bipolar Disorder and the Mental Health Stigma

Last December, I received a diagnosis that changed my entire life. I had gone to the psychiatrist for a routine checkup. Nothing special, just thought I could use one. I had never been to this psychologist, but I was excited for the ability to go back to Washington, DC. We went through the initial questionnaire, the awkward questions, the history. Everything was on the table, including the incident that I hate discussing more than anything else in the world. I went through it all and at the end, he said the words: “You have Bipolar II.”

Those words shattered my world. I knew I was depressed and anxious, but never in a billion years did I think I was bipolar. As I thought about it and as I held the new prescription for the new medication that I realized I would need for the rest of my life, I realized it was true. The bouts of mania and depression even as I was a small child.

But the only thing I thought of after that was the images I had seen of bipolar people as I was growing up. Families had been ruined, lives had been lost. Nobody talked about bipolar successes, only the damages caused by this disorder.

I was ashamed. It took months for me to be able to be comfortable with admitting I had it. I still struggle because I know that not everyone sees it the way I do.

I worry that people will see me just as my illness, just as my diagnosis, and just as my past. I worry that people will see what I have done and be afraid that I’m not going to be able to commit, that I’m not going to be able to function as “normal” people are.

I take my pills every day, around the same time, and I keep them in one of those weekly pill dividers that usually only the elderly use. (I’m a very old soul, if you hadn’t gathered…)

Someday, I’d like to see the fear around bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses disappear. That’s why I wear my green bracelet, and attempt to become more comfortable with myself.

3 thoughts on “Better Life Through Chemistry: My Personal Battle with Bipolar Disorder and the Mental Health Stigma

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