The one where I’m really real about mental illness

Disclaimer: I do not speak for ALL people with bipolar, hell not even half of them. I'm only speaking from my experiences.

I have always been pretty intense and in my late teens and early 20s a bit of a hot mess. After various doctors visits it was settled upon that I was very depressed and I was medicated, and everything became better until it wasn't. I was on 110% full tilt 24/7. 10 feet tall and bullet proof, nothing I couldn't do. It was about this time a diagnosis of bipolar was reached for which depressants were pushing me into a permanent mania. Fun for me, shit for everyone and everything that wasn't me.

Yeah, this is the post about being bipolar. Bi polar used to be called manic depression and comes in a variety of different types. I'm type 2 (I thought I was type 1 until I went through all my old paperwork) which means my manic episodes are capped and I experience more depressive episodes. I also do what's called rapid cycling which means I go up and down in mood quickly, at least 4 major mood changes a year. At my worst I can go up and down weekly which is a 'mixed episode'. Yes, it's as exhausting as it sounds

So, back to 22yo me. I gave up drinking, going out and smoking weed when I was first diagnosed. They all did terrible things to my brain for which my medication couldn't compensate. One joint and I'd be in a hole for weeks, the same with getting really drunk. I lost a few friends, got in touch with others with others after I started to change my lifestyle but it's what I had to do to get better.

Things got better. I went to behaviour therapy where I learnt to deal with my brain and the shitty messages it sends me. I'm still not great with it, but at least when my brain is telling me I'm an asshole who has no real friends it is in fact a liar. Similarly when it says I could take on the world and become the supreme ruler I can tell my inner Kanye to get some chill.

Years roll on, I become more stable, meet my now husband, get pregnant and get married. I'm very lucky I met someone who understands my illness even though it can be more than annoying at times. The amount of times I have fallen apart and cried in a puddle over things most people wouldn't think twice about is astounding. Not once has he ever not picked me up or had my back.

I have built myself a support team with a good GP, a councillor, my husband and some mates who always are looking out for me. Without that support team I don't know where I'd be. They know he difference between pushing me towards help when I need it and dumping me like a hot rock because I'm 'too hard' or messy. You don't ever need people who just want to be cruel on your team even if they are disguising it.

I work very hard on being stable and presenting a capable, hard working front. I do my absolute best to show I am more than my illness. I take my medication (I'm pro medication and I know not everyone is), exercise, sleep, try and reduce my stress because not doing these things can trigger me into an episode if I don't jump on it quick enough. I say try and reduce stress because I am prone to being a stress head. I am also prone to self medicating these days with coffee, social media and food. That's a thing with bipolar people, we self medicate at times.

Any who, I can have a bad day because it's a bad day, not everything relates to my bipolar, even though some people would have you think otherwise.

I've been accused of being a nut, being a danger to my kids, being unable to do my job, all by people who have NO concept of what being bipolar actually is. They see all the unstable stereotypes out there and assume that's what I am. Bipolar isn't schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder. It is its own beast as are those mental illnesses. I'm not going to flip out and start stabbing people in the street, or talking to imaginary people anymore than the next person. Promise you I'm not.

Fast forward to now. I've been stable and happy for a good long while now with no major wobbles (I have had my half yearly already). I think for me the key is having the right people around you, knowing my beast and standing firm on what you need to do to be healthy. You can't look after anyone else in your life, when you aren't ok. It's ok to put yourself first.

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