What Bipolar Actually Means

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Many people, unknowingly, use ‘bipolar’ as a word to describe someone who has crazy emotions, and has a negative connotation. That is not what ‘bipolar’ means. Here’s what it means: Being labelled as ‘bipolar’ is something I’ve have to deal with for a while now. I have to take medication for my disorder, and even then, the medication doesn’t cure it. It’s a disease; a disorder. Bipolar Disorder is a life sentence…there is no cure.

It affects relationships with everyone. I’ve lost friends because I have little to no control over my emotions, even on meds, because these people think I’ve gone crazy. Some have taken advantage of me, because my judgement is skewed during manic and depressive episodes. I really found out who my true friends are. My family’s been understanding and supportive, giving me the push I need, but it’s still hard to relate to them…they don’t have Bipolar Disorder, and I do. Romantic relationships are rocky for me. I’ve been broken up with because of my disorder, being called a ‘basket case’. Sometimes, my emotional ‘downs’ scare people away. But for now, I know I have to have someone who is rock solid in my life, and helps me through tough spots. I’ve found that my relationships need to be solid and consistent.

Bipolar disorder has definitely affected my faith. I know I’m headed towards a depressive or manic episode because my attitude towards it changes. Honestly, I need consistency in my prayer life, too. Outside of going to church, consistency is fine, but so much changes at church that I feel lost and everything seems to spiral out of control. I find myself depressed more often than not because I feel invisible when I’m there. As a result of this depression, I’ve withdrawn from God when I’m home. But when I’m at college, and there’s a routine established, it’s easier for me to go to Mass, because I feel like my needs are being met. It’s a delicate balance. I tend to go to confession and adoration a lot in a depressive episode because it makes me feel better. That’s sometimes where I’m at.

Bipolar means crying so hard it hurts, dropping to the floor because I physically can’t stand anymore. It means bursting into tears at the littlest things. It means not being able to sleep at night. It means waking up in the middle of the night hungry as a side effect of medication, and gaining weight as a result of eating so much. Bipolar can also, completely contrary to that, mean that I don’t eat at all. It sometimes means I snap at the ones I love without meaning to do it. It means that sometimes, I can’t get out of bed on a certain day, I stay in my room all the time, or need to be dragged out of bed. It means that I literally cannot function. It means being afraid to get married and have children because I know these children will have my disorder, because it’s genetic.

On the flipside, Bipolar means that I’m happy. It means laughter. It means jumping out of bed in the morning, ready to seize the day. Bipolar means that everything looks like it’s going to be okay. It means sunshine. It means strength. Bipolar means that I’m not overworking myself in school, but not completely blowing it off. Mania is that time when I feel light, healthy, and there’s not a care in the world…but it’s also dangerous. I might go off my meds because I feel so good. There’s a fine line between feeling good and being healthy. Bipolar means that I am ready to take on the future.

So, where am I at now? Good question. Newsflash: I’ve learned how to live with my disorder and sort of roll with the punches.

There are a lot of things that I am, but most of all, I am a college student, and I am strong and happy, and because I’m happy, here’s a picture of me laughing, something that has been easier to do lately. Sometimes, my disorder manifests itself in ways that I can’t control, like being sensitive to certain noises, but it’s nothing that I can’t handle. Sometimes, I’m happy or depressed for no reason, and those people who understand that my medications don’t cure it and that I can’t control it are appreciated by me, and I certainly let them know that. All my life, I’ve been told to do what I love, even if it’s multiple things, and I am going to school to do all of those things. I’ve gone so much further than I thought that I would go. I haven’t let my circumstances stop me from doing anything that I want to do, and go where I want to go.

Bipolar isn’t something that I am. It is something that I have. Stop making it an adjective for having crazy emotions within a relationship. Stop making it so negative. Some of the brightest, strongest people I know suffer from this disorder, and all you are doing is glamorizing it. Mental illness is not glamorous. It is not something that we make up. It’s real, and it’s affecting many people. There’s such a stigma put on it, albeit indirectly, and that needs to stop.

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