Quote: “You are not your illness. You have an individual story to tell. You have a name, a history, a personality. Staying yourself is part of the battle.”
Fact/Statistic: 20% of adolescents with major depression develop bipolar disorder within five years of the onset of depression. (Birmaher, B., "Childhood and Adolescent Depression: A Review of the Past 10 Years." Part I, 1995)
Cliffhanger: Bipolar disorder results in 9.2 years reduction in expected life span, and as many as one in five patients with bipolar disorder completes suicide. (National Institute of Mental Health) So how can you realize that your loved one or friend is suffering from Bipolar Depression and how can we fully support them?
Crazy, dysfunctional, disordered, and unbalanced; no one likes these labels, especially when it pertains to one of the biggest struggles life throws at us. We didn’t ask to be “unbalanced individuals”, we don’t mean to act “crazy” and we are humans, not “disordered humans” so why do people have the audacity to speak such foul things at those we just need some guidance from their peers?
Mental illness is a genetic, biological, or environmental illness that varies within each individual, and frankly it’s pretty damn selfish. It doesn’t care what kind of individual you are; it doesn’t care about your social status, yearly income, level of education or gender. It will grab onto you, and suck all the energy out of any individual it chooses. No matter the protection you believe you have, mood and mental disorders will create a victim out of you or someone you love.
You may read this with the interpretation that I have become accustomed to these complex diagnoses, this is the complete opposite. Struggling with bipolar depression has created a wave of anxiety and anger towards the people I care the most for. This chemical unbalance has made me feel alone and unloved, which on a daily basis feels like a perpetual darkness I can never rid. With the experience of attending many different counselors, I have realized ignorance isn’t blissful when it comes to your disorders and pity isn’t a beneficial coping mechanism.
Manic episodes have caused me to make poor decisions, disguise my pride and throw harmful gestures to my peers. Speaking for those who also struggle with many different grades of bipolar disorder, we want to share with you that we feel very guilty for our detrimental and snide behaviors towards others. We apologize greatly for those we have wronged when our chemical unbalance acts up.
The great thing about situations like these is you can always overcome them, by branching out to your friends or finally opening up to your therapist you will slowly gain control of your life again. Lastly, never feel guilty or alone.