Updated: Sep 20, 2022
From the first moment I heard the words “bipolar 2 disorder”... I judged myself, but I also felt an immense sense of relief. There was a reason why I could never cope with the instability of my moods, or the intensity of my emotions. I always felt too much, too sensitive, moody, dramatic... yet simultaneously not enough, despite my exhausting efforts to stay above water.
In the middle of an ocean of emotions by myself, without a life vest.
Flapping for my life, panicked, waves crashing, I don’t see a way out of these dangerous waters.
I’ve always managed to float along with the current, finding ways to fill the void in others that I couldn’t seem to fill within myself. Wishing that the simple reality of having company while I panic to survive would bring me the kind of peace and comfort I was so desperately searching for. The sad reality is that you can’t swim together until you learn how to swim for yourself. After many relationships, I found that no one else could teach me how to swim under these currents because they were mine to learn to navigate.
Finally, I felt like I was finally given a life jacket, and I am finally learning how to swim.
I felt seen and heard. I knew sharing my diagnosis would liberate me in the long run, but at first hand, it felt like a death sentence. Coping with the concept that this journey would never end, that I’d have to be medicated my whole life in order to live more comfortably or it would only get worse. ..
I feared sharing my diagnosis with anyone because of the stigma. I struggled with bipolar 2 disorder my whole life, but it was finally given a name- a name that I could not share. A name that came with so many preconceived notions. I felt alone all over again, with this cryptic secret that was merely a simple fact about myself. I decided that wasn’t my “job” to try and beat the stigma, I had enough on my plate. I was in the middle of a breakup, in the process of finding a new place to live, overworked/underpaid and struggling to find new work.
3 years prior, I lost my older sister, Shayna, to suicide. She was undiagnosed with any mental health disorders, but she struggled with thoughts of suicide since childhood. In a sad, strange way, I felt like she prepared me for it. As a child, I was naive enough to believe that it was a secret that needed to be kept between us- though she wasn't shy to admit it to others. She trusted me with her life, and I wish I had the wisdom to make different decisions while it still mattered.
I struggled with crippling guilt, we already had a complicated relationship: A sibling rivalry that neither of us could bare. I felt villainized for my achievements, for my aspirations. She felt completely unseen for hers. We fought because we were brutally honest with each other. A couple of nights before she took her life, we talked about how bad her depression had gotten. I advised her that she needed a change in her outlook, some professional help, and she stubbornly told me, “if you really knew me, you know I’d kill myself”.
I heard it so many times... How was I supposed to know that was the last time I'd hear it?
When I received the news from my mom a couple of days later, I couldn’t help but think of all the ways I could’ve saved her. Then I had a moment of realization... She needed to WANT the help people were offering her, she had to get out of her own way.
I am 24 years old now, the age she was when she took her life. I am unashamed of my battle with depression, I am unashamed of my wounds. I am at peace with this version of myself that has learned to reflect on the darkest parts of me, with the pieces of me that felt the need to act out. My fight has taught me endless lessons about how to assert boundaries, protect and nurture myself first. My traumas are not my fault, but my traumas are mine to heal.
I am not defined by my diagnosis, I live with it. I am friends with my disorder. I am more patient and compassionate with myself because of it, which in turn makes me much more understanding and caring toward others. Everyone has a piece of themselves that they struggle to accept, that they hide away from the world. I am here to tell you that there is nothing to hide. Transparency is your best friend in this world of illusions. You will gain so much from being honest with yourself and others about who your authentic self is.
Luckily I’ve always been very in touch with my intuitive abilities, but I've always felt lost in terms of sharing the wisdom and guidance imparted to me. Mainly out of fear, the fear of being “weird”, of being discounted or discredited.
Once I received a formal diagnosis, I realized that my purpose is to help others heal themselves. To teach others how to navigate the space between well and unwell, that sometimes it is enough to just be. Through my own healing, I’ve learned endless lessons about the ways in which we unknowingly sabotage ourselves. It’s hard to accept that the process isn’t linear, and that poses a block for many who wish it to be that way.
I’ve come to know peace after my trials and tribulations, but they never end where the obstacle does. I still notice the results of childhood traumas lingering in my everyday actions, in my self-talk and self-perception. I’ve learned that radical forgiveness is the most useful tool in my healing journey. Forgiveness of the self being first. Once you learn how to genuinely forgive yourself for your perceived shortcomings, forgiving others will become second nature to you. This is the most beneficial tool for those who struggle with holding grudges, guilt and shame. Low self-esteem is a product of your inability to see yourself as whole, because you’ve developed the habit of only giving attention to the parts of yourself you’d like to “fix”. We love self-improvement here, but acknowledging the parts of yourself that you appreciate is a necessary piece of the puzzle. You have to know the good and the bad before you can make any progress in either direction.
Choose love. Choose light. Choose life. And know, you have a friend in me. You are never alone.