For several years now, I’ve tossed around the idea of writing a book about living with bipolar disorder. I have kept journals since I was young, and they provide very interesting insight into a young mind struggling with a difficult illness. I wanted to take those old journal entries, as well as the ones I’ve written more recently in my LiveJournal, and use them to show other people what it’s like to live with this illness, what it’s like to be inside my head. Of course, I have seventeen thousand other projects going on, and haven’t done more than go rooting around for those old journals and dust them off a bit. Then the other night, it hit me. I read dozens of blogs, and I’m reasonably faithful with keeping up with my LiveJournal. Why not start my own blog? It took me a couple days, but here I am.
It took a long time for me to finally admit to my mother that I was struggling with an illness, and that I thought I was depressed. From what I can tell, I have been symptomatic since I was a very young child, perhaps seven or eight. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that I finally told my mom, and her initial response was to say, “Aww, do you need Prozac in your corn flakes?” Those words have echoed and resonated for years. I finally was put on an antidepressant, Zoloft, when I managed to work up the courage to insist on seeing a doctor. Of course, Zoloft is an antidepressant, and it did little to help with my depression, and only led to wilder stages of hypomania. By my junior year of college I had a breakdown, and it took everything I had to get well again and manage to graduate. I am still amazed that I was able to do so with a 3.44, which felt like a failure at the time, but considering? It was quite the accomplishment that I graduated at all and didn’t just give up.
I know mom was just trying to understand it herself. My father had bipolar disorder. Mom had divorced him only two short years before and thought she had put the illness behind her, only for me to be diagnosed, as well. She had been in denial about the symptoms I had been showing for a long time. My therapist also muses that due to my taking charge of my younger siblings, I sublimated my symptoms as much as possible because I was trying to protect my mother. I still do, to an extent. My mother is one of my staunchest supporters, but I am afraid to talk to her about my problems because I am afraid to show weakness and imperfections. I want to protect her. I worry that the title of my blog will hurt her, but it is something that resonates whenever I speak with a client who has been through the same thing, where a beloved family member was in denial and said something hurtful that just won’t go away. Perhaps if I use it to bring some good to the world, it will no longer carry the sting of denial and rejection.
My hopes for this project is that others can gain understanding of a painful illness that can so easily ruin lives, and that it might provide some comfort for those who are continuing to survive- and thrive- with bipolar disorder. It is not an easy road, my friends, but everybody’s road is a hard one, for myriad reasons. I only hope that my road can give others hope.