In honor of World Bipolar Day, I encourage those of you living with bipolar to answer the following questionnaire to help raise awareness.
You can also nominate some bipolar bloggers to join in!
1. What does bipolar disorder mean to you?
2. What was your life like before you were diagnosed with bipolar disorder?
3. How old were you when you were diagnosed?
4. How do you manage your symptoms?
5. What is life like for you now?
6. Has having bipolar disorder affected your friendships, personal life, or professional life?
7. How do you think society treats people with a mental illness, especially bipolar disorder?
8. Have you ever felt discriminated against or looked poorly on because of bipolar disorder?
9. Do you have any words of advice for people in the world suffering with bipolar disorder, or other mental illness?
I’ll answer the questions:
1. What does bipolar disorder mean to you? Bipolar is a manic-depressive illness, meaning I could be totally happy in 2012, but hello depression in 2013 from fucking January to July. There are people with rapid cycling which means they can wake up feeling that they are going to off themselves, but 4 hours later they are ecstatic. It’s awful, it’s emotionally painful and draining, and……ugh.
2. What was your life like before you were diagnosed with bipolar disorder? All over the place. My family didn’t know what was wrong with me. But there was something very obviously wrong with me. My grandma actually thought I was possessed.
3. How old were you when you were diagnosed? I was 16 when I was diagnosed with Bipolar Type I
4. How do you manage your symptoms? Now, I’m taking medication. Before the meds, I would self medicate via alcohol and drugs.
5. What is life like for you now? It’s been getting better, slowly but surely. I’m still adjusting to my medication, Lithium 900 mg, and Seroquel to treat the Schizo- side of my diagnoses.
6. Has having bipolar disorder affected your friendships, personal life, or professional life? Yes, always, forever. I’m convinced it will perpetually affect all relationships and work. I’ve lost friends over my mental health, I’ve lost significant others. It’s very difficult to function with a job sometimes. Fuck, just getting out of bed is an achievement all on its own.
7. How do you think society treats people with a mental illness, especially bipolar disorder? Shittily. I think we can all agree that there is a fuck ton of stigma associated with any kind of mental illness. Depression, not so much. Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia? Lot’s of stigma. I honestly believe that people equate schizophrenia to homeless people and war vets, unfortunately. Society also likes to accuse us of using our illnesses to justify getting out of trouble, and/or “off the hook.” In reality, this isn’t the case at all. I’ve never met anyone with a true mental illness to ever use it as an excuse. If anything, they work really hard to not make their illness visible. It’s the goddamn malingerers that fuck it up for the rest of us.
8. Have you ever felt discriminated against or looked poorly on because of bipolar disorder? Yes. Not just for being bipolar, but for depression specifically. Some days I just honestly cannot pull myself together. I’ve been called lazy and half-assed more than I’d like to believe. The laziness is not lazy, it’s just that in my sheets, I feel almost dead- a feeling I quite fancy sometimes. Scattered isn’t being scattered, it’s that sometimes the voices get so loud, my concentration goes out the window and there you go!
9. Do you have any words of advice for people in the world suffering with bipolar disorder, or other mental illness? Hang in there, toots. It will get better. It will get shitty again, but it’ll get better. You’re not alone. Look at March 30th! You’ve- we’ve- got a whole day to cheer together. We are awesome.