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Bipolar Badass

For Every Person Who Needs a Hero and Doesn't Realize You Will Become Your Own

Ever since my childhood, society told me that mental illness was a shame, a burden to carry secretly. My younger self was fed with the bad depiction in movies. I associated mental health with hospitalization, white clothes, screams, and the word crazy. That word resonated as offensive and almost taboo. Growing up I learned how to tackle serious subjects like this one, how the representation in movies wasn't always the reality of things, how mental health issues could affect anybody.

I was diagnosed last year with bipolar disorder type II, this illness causes mood swings between hypomania (up) and depression (down). When my mood is elevated, I feel overconfident, enthusiastic, and invincible, as if I could walk through fire without burning. When my mood is low, I feel helpless, worthless, and lonely. Bipolar disorder is a real pain in the ass (note to self: could be the title of my next story). To sum up, this mental illness controls the way I act, feel, and talk. There is no cure, but you can find many ways to get control over it. To whoever reads this suffering from bipolar disorder, having mental health issues, or any other struggles: You are not alone.

Before being diagnosed I struggled with many mental health issues: anorexia, depression, bulimia, to quote a few. It was a long and painful journey to find what was "wrong" with me. Being diagnosed was a relief: I could finally put a name on my pain, I could educate myself on my illness, and I could learn about the stigma surrounding mental health, the symptoms. I came to the realization that it was going to be my impenetrable prison and my lifelong weakness. I kept this heavy secret for myself, knowing that sharing it with someone would be like baring my soul. Being silent got me nowhere. For years I had a constant battle with my own self, trying to survive with a mind continually wanting to die. For about a decade, I got accustomed to handling myself alone, I never counted on anyone but me, the only thing that I know for sure is this: I'm broken, full of wounds, deceptions, betrayals and still standing on my feet.

Being alone made me stronger—until I realized what I deeply wanted: something so scary, so unusual that I retained it for years. As simple as it may seem, I wanted people to know the real me, have a chance to understand what I was going through but mostly my fierce and relentless opponent: my bipolar disorder. Having to survive so many things on my own, I gained a lot of maturity, which allowed me to take a step back and convince myself that my condition doesn't have to be an affliction or something to be ashamed of. We all carry wounds, but even broken crayons color the same, so why was I perceiving my diagnosis as a fatality? My mental illness doesn't mean that I have fewer abilities than others; it gives me different tools, letting me have a unique perspective on the world. I started telling friends about my struggles. I was amazed by the results, insofar as it enhanced our friendship. The stigma freaked me out about being judged, not accepted, depicted as crazy, or simply misunderstood. I accepted myself before being accepted by others; nothing could scare me anymore. I didn't need any approval but my own, I learned to be proud of my bipolar disorder, and I consider it my superpower so the world can't use it against me.

The hardest thing is to accept that there is something wrong with you: If you can put a word on a pain, then other people suffer from it; you are less alone than you think. Educate yourself, talk to friends, family members, professionals, teachers, whoever it may be: You have to realize that nothing makes you less than human. It takes a brave person to go get help. Try anything that can make you feel better. You have survived up until this point, you have survived many different phases of life, and you are one hell of a tough person. I grew from the things that destroyed me. You can too: You are worth saving and you are your own superhero.

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Bipolar Badass
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