What Is It Like Living With Mental Illness?
I have suffered from depression and anxiety since the age of 16, and bipolar disorder since I was 18.
Having bipolar is like being in a constant argument with yourself – it is so exhausting being inside of my own head. I’m constantly battling my thoughts and convincing myself that things won’t be like this forever; but between wanting to jump off a bridge and feeling so elevated, I’m awake for three days straight, it took me a long time to find stability. It is challenging – no two days are the same. It is almost like being your own carer, looking out for signs and symptoms, monitoring your moods, sleeping patterns, and eating habits, but it has all been worth it to not put myself through self hate and self doubt again.
As much as I have tried to live a pretty ‘normal’ life, I often wonder if my life is going to be like this forever; the doctors’ appointments, counselling sessions, psychiatric assessments and medication. I would like to think bipolar doesn’t affect my day to day activities and responsibilities, but like anyone else, some days are better than others; let’s just say my good days are really good and my bad days are really bad. During my bad days, I would cry excessively, I wouldn’t want to get out of bed or face the world, I wouldn’t open my curtains or look outside, I wouldn’t eat, and probably spend the day convincing myself that this life isn’t worth living anymore.
But my good days are great, I’m full of energy and I don’t want to stop moving. The best part is, I’m so optimistic about life that I could get fired from my job, and I wouldn’t even have a worry in the world! I feel invincible, I have all these hopes and dreams for the future and everything seems so clear. I take on all these responsibilities I think I can handle and often make broken promises. As you can imagine, this also becomes very exhausting; running on a few hours’ sleep and double espresso shots, knowing depression is going to hit again. It has become a very draining routine, but the only way to get through it, is simply to get through it.
Simple human responsibilities can become very difficult for me; for example, taking care of myself, my finances, my relationships, having a job, all become a struggle, but as I have matured into a young woman and developed knowledge on my condition, I can gladly say I have more good days than bad days. With help from medication, I find myself in limbo, able to live a ‘normal’ life. I no longer have overwhelming feelings of frustration, and I am able to control my thoughts from running wild. As much as I wish I could stay in ‘the middle’, I’ve been able to accept my fluctuating moods and I find appreciation in being in touch with my feelings.
I am now 22 and I would like to think I have mastered the art of getting on with life and fully accepting my condition. With determination and motivation to live a healthier, happier life, I have been able to live a life not controlled by mental illness. I have learnt how to support myself and seek support when needed to stay on track, and most importantly, I have learned to accept that some days will be harder to face than others – but as long as I keep reminding myself that it is ok to not be ok, I will be fine.