Hi, my name is Hanna and I struggle with Bipolar II Disorder.
Here’s how it works for me. I spend anywhere from 1-3 weeks living on top of the world–hypo-mania. Sounds like fun, huh? It is at first.
I begin to obsess about something. Usually, I dive into crafts. I become a crafty machine! Other times, I bake. I spend hours everyday making something. All I want to do is create. I put off things that I really shouldn’t—homework, family time, household tasks, and sleep. But, I feel great using my hands. I can’t sit and just watch a show, or just sit and read. I need to be doing something.
Then I just start to feel out of control.
I feel like I’m on the “tea cups” ride at an amusement park. Just spinning faster and faster, screaming for it to stop. It’s a constant roller-coaster. My head is running 500 miles per hour and it’s exhausting. I become mentally drained and no amount of sleep can make me feel better.
I feel crazy. Like a lab rat on crack.
Give it some time and I return to “normal.” I feel normal again—just like everyone else. Days pass. Life is good. I come to believe that I’m a regular member of society and that, maybe this time, it will last. That maybe I won’t go through the cycle again…
Then there is the depression.
It creeps up on me. One day I’m fine. Then the next, something happens—a little bump in the road—and I feel a little blue. Instead of bouncing back, the blues just sets-in and worsens. It worsens until I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to go to class. I don’t want to do my homework. I don’t want to go to work. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t want to even look at anyone. I don’t want to create anything or read a book or watch a movie or take a nap. I don’t want to do ANYTHING. I mean, come on, it’s depression.
I want to curl up in a ball and wish away all of the negatives. I know I’m a good mother, but I feel like I’m failing miserably. I know I’m a good partner, but I feel like I’m constantly disappointing and hurting my husband. I know I’m a good student, but I don’t seem to have the drive to dedicate time to my studies… I just don’t care. I know I’m a decent person, but I just don’t feel like it. I feel like a failure.
Again, I wish more than anything I were normal. I wish I didn’t have these thoughts in my head. I don’t want to go through life wondering when I’ll crack. When am I going to lose my mind? When am I going to melt into a puddle? Why can’t I just walk through life experiencing traditional highs and lows? I don’t want the extreme ones anymore. I’ve done my time. I’m ready to tap out and let someone else complete the fight.
But, the medication does help. In the simplest explanation, it takes the edge off. The highs aren’t as high and the lows aren’t as low. But, it’s still there.
At this point, I feel as if I am my disorder. I feel like my diagnosis has taken over who I am. It drags me by a leash and forces me to experience emotions that I don’t want to experience. “Hi, I’m Bipolar II. Sometimes, I’m called Hanna.”
I just don’t want to be me.
But if I can’t be someone else, then I want to know someone who faces BP II. I want to be able to share my demons with someone who lives with the same ones. I want a friend that I don’t have to explain the nuances—just what it feels like to be hypo-manic or how badly the desire is to be normal.
I’m hesitant to talk about this, but I’m hoping it’ll help others. Everywhere I go, I see information regarding depression and anxiety. It’s wonderful! I am so thankful that the world we live in is becoming more and more understanding of psychological disorders (read: mental illness… but I just don’t care for that term). I love that many of my friends and family are comfortable enough to talk about what they are going through and asking for help.
But there’s a catch—I feel left out. I have yet to see or hear anything regarding Bipolar II Disorder. When I do mention it, the looks I receive drop my stomach. Bipolar I Disorder is not the same as Bipolar II Disorder. Those looks make me feel even crazier than I already do. This is such a large stigma around Bipolar Disorders in general. That is a “me” thing… but, I still feel left out. And I want to feel normal.
I feel left in the dust, screaming for the car to come back and pick me up.
BONUS: I recently found a wonderful website. To Write Love On Her Arms is a nonprofit organization aimed to provide hope and support to those coping with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts. I highly suggest you check it out. My favorite part are the blogs—the site links to hundreds of blogs that discuss these topics written by people who experience them. It’s a great community. And I feel a little less alone knowing they are out there.