It's been eight years since I awkwardly sat in my psychiatrist's office, waiting to hear the news that would change my life.
After many sessions of describing my feelings and emotions, the therapist told me what I didn't want to hear. I have bipolar disorder.
Sitting in the office, after a number of anxiety and panic attacks, feeling trapped, all I could think was how I was defective. I looked over at my parents, who thought I was acting like a "drama queen" all this time, hoping to see some sort of an explanation. There was none. Their faces were just as blank, confused, disturbed and as saddened as mine. That was the hardest feeling to deal with, the feeling that I had disappointed my parents.
My dad interrupted her to ask, "So when will this be over... like when will she be cured?" None of us wanted to hear her answer.
It was then that I learned I will be bipolar for the rest of my life.
People often ask me, "Why do I even bother to remember these dates?" The answer is simple: I want to remember my journey. Each moment that passes when I feel down, I remember it's been eight long years since I began road to discovery. Whenever I start to doubt myself, I always look back at how far I have come.
At the end of every October, I think of how my diagnosis has transformed me. Through the ups and downs of the past eight years, I don't see myself as different anymore. To be honest, some days I forget my DSM-5 diagnosis even exists, until I reach for my bottle of Lithium at lunch.
Indeed, my life experiences are much different than my peers, my family members and my colleagues, but really what makes me so different?
I keep telling myself that I am not different. Sure, I occasionally spend sometime in a psychiatric unit and might be accustom to having multiple panic/anxiety attacks a day.
Yet, even while all the pain, the sadness, the manic rages and anxiety continues, I have gained a sense of acceptance; my DSM-5 diagnosis does not define me; it is just a mere part of me.
Overall, my struggle is just like that of any other person. What really matters is how one chooses to deal with that struggle. How does one persevere in light of their said struggle is what truly matters.
So the anniversary of my life-changing date that Hallmark lacks a card for reminds me of all of the obstacles being bipolar has thrown my way but I have persevered. Having reminded myself this over and over, I look back at my journey and think of that terrified and lost 16-year-old girl. While I still remember the girl I used to be I am no longer terrified or lost in my bipolar world. Although I do not like what my bipolar disorder has put me through, I love the person it has made me become.
Have a story about depression or mental illness that you'd like to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at (860) 348-3376, and you can record your story in your own words. Please be sure to include your name and phone number.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.