Today is World Bipolar Day. I wish I could say that with even a little happiness. It is important to spread awareness about bipolar disorder and other mental health issues around the world, but it is not an easy task. It’s important for people to know that bipolar disorder does not limit individuals. In fact, many people diagnosed with bipolar disorder are much more creative and passionate. Living with and managing a life with bipolar disorder is difficult, but it can be done.
I hate stigma. It makes me feel as if I’m nothing or dangerous. I’ll explain. My husband and I record a lot of TV shows. For one of the TV shows, we hadn’t yet watched any of the episodes, so some days we watch multiple episodes back to back. It’s this show that started last year, Secrets and Lies (heads up, spoiler alerts). I was all good with it, until close to the end of the first season. They find psychiatric medications in the woman’s house, Risperdone and Lithium. Then the guy that found the meds looks them up and of course it shows only the negative information about bipolar disorder. It shows information about psychosis and how individuals can go into violent rages when their meds are not level or when they’re off medication.
Maybe there are some people who do go into violent rages when struggling with medication, but that’s not how it goes for everyone. Every person is different and I don’t like it when TV or movies show individuals with bipolar with the most extreme effects. There are probably a lot of people out there that don’t realize that they are only showing the most extreme circumstances. There are people out there that know nothing about bipolar disorder until they see it shown on TV and in movies. It’s stuff like this that gives bipolar disorder and other mental health disorders a bad name.
I looked up the word stigma to see what it says and I found that it says, ‘a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.’ When bipolar disorder is shown on TV or in movies, it is usually shown in a disgraceful manner. I wonder if this will ever change.
At this point in my life, I have decided to be open about my bipolar disorder. This doesn’t mean that I walk around telling everyone I meet that I’m bipolar, and I don’t wear a sign saying ‘Bipolar 1’, but I don’t hide my diagnosis. However, I have no problem telling people my diagnosis and explaining to them what it’s like for me. I feel like sometimes I’m educating people who know nothing about mental health. Other times, I end up meeting some people who also deal with mental health themselves or through a loved one.
There will always be people in the world who don’t understand mental health. There are still some people who do not believe in mental health. It’s really hard to talk to someone who believes that. Instead of arguing with them, I’ve found that I’m not going to change their minds, so I just let them believe what they want to believe.
I used to try to hide my diagnosis; I was always afraid what others would think of me. Hiding it took so much work, it was exhausting. At some point, and I’m not sure when, I finally accepted my bipolar disorder diagnosis. Once I accepted it, I no longer felt as if I needed to hide it. Plus, once I became open about my diagnosis, I realized that there are a lot more people out there that deal with mental health issues as well.
So many people are afraid to talk about mental health, but there’s no need to avoid the subject. The only way people can learn about it is by discussing it. Talking about mental health will help get rid of or reduce the stigmas that we deal with on a regular basis. If someone has a problem with my mental health, then that is their problem, not mine.
I did well today; better than I thought I would do. I got some things done around the house to help out. In the afternoon, I went to see my grandma and I had a great visit. Her health is declining and I tend to worry. We had several conversations; I love the fact that I can be open with her about my bipolar disorder and PTSD. There were several things she didn’t understand at first, but she listened to me explain various aspects of the disorders. She even repeated things back to me in her own words showing that she did grasp the concepts. I was able to explain to her how my moods can change suddenly; sometimes I am unable to laugh, sometimes all I can do is cry, and sometimes I feel nothing at all. She even tried to understand how my thoughts can take over my mind; how for the past many months, I have had suicidal ideations in the back of my mind. She asked how my ECT treatments are going and how I’m managing my medications. Even though she may not remember all of these things, she still cared enough to listen to my explanations and try to understand the disorders. Bipolar disorder and PTSD were not things that were considered ‘real’ when she was growing up. The fact that she can see them as real and care about my mental health means so much to me.
Then I was able to spend the evening with my mom. We went to dinner and a movie; we saw a chick flick, Mother’s Day. It was a good movie; not great, but not horrible. The best part of it all is that I got to spend time with my mom. I can talk to her about anything, and I’m not exaggerating. The two of us are happy doing anything, as long as we are together. Tomorrow, we are going to the Science Center to see a Leonardo da Vinci exhibit. I can’t wait to see it; the exhibit brings to life 40 of his inventions. I’m excited to have the opportunity to spend time with my mom; it’s a blessing that I’m extremely grateful for.
The best part of the day is that I didn’t take any Valium. There were probably a couple of times that it would have been beneficial, but I pushed through and did okay. I only want to take that medication when I absolutely need it. If I take it too often, then I build up a tolerance to it, and it doesn’t work as well. Today, I was able to get through my day without any Valium at all. That is a big deal for me. I’ve had other days that I didn’t take any, but I usually didn’t leave the house on those days. Today, I was out and about quite a bit, and I was able to manage it on my own.