Living with bipolar disorder is not for the faint-hearted. It’s exhausting, and your will to live must be strong. You must win the same battle over and over again. The thing is, it doesn’t get easier. The brain is cunning. It turns right where it once went left. It’s slippery, elusive, and difficult to pin down. As soon as you think you’ve mastered it, the cycle repeats itself. Of course, I’m talking about when my bipolar is treated and well-managed. Undiagnosed bipolar disorder is a monster in its own right. It causes pain, destruction, and chaos. It rips apart families and it can be lethal. Frankly, I’m lucky to be alive.
Intense childhood panic attacks mark the beginning of my story. My family would push me out the front door toward the school bus as I would hysterically cry and push back. “Oh she’ll outgrow them,” my pediatrician said. So, instead of therapeutic intervention, spankings answered my literal cries for help.
Middle school brought with it depression and self-harm, which were also minimized. I believe that’s when I “toughened-up.” That is, I began wearing a figurative mask and learned to act as if nothing was wrong.
But it was in adulthood that living undiagnosed became most problematic.
Not even my mask could hide the madness within me. (more…)