May is Mental Health Awareness Month

I can only speak to my experience to being bipolar. This should come to light during this month and every month, to be honest.

Living with bipolar can be challenging some days. Some days I forget I am mentally ill. Other days it wallops me into submission and I know I am afflicted.

Then there’s the daily meds. I am reminded every morning and every evening that I am mentally ill. It is just a part of my daily routine to stay healthy. It is common place to adjust to that.

Writing Yes, I Took My Meds, I feel like part of the stigma behind bipolar was lifted for those that read it. They were left with a better understanding of what bipolar was. There just has not been a greater readership of the book to see what it is to live with bipolar and how one functions within it it’s grasp.

I am not ashamed of my bipolar, but I am wary of it when introducing myself to potential dates. Will they run if they know my status? My newest fella, Mellow Man, did not run. He inquired. He has relatives who have bipolar. He was curious.

He asked me early on if he could buy my book. I have never said yes to any potential dates before. I don’t know why I did to him, but I gave him the go ahead. I trusted him with my world.

Giving someone you’re dating a roadmap to download your life of struggles and triumphs with your illness in 300 pages is a lot to handle. I would gladly share anything in there. I have nothing to hide. It does seem like a lot of information to give to someone at one time and a bit unfair to have someone have so much information at one person and not about the other.

Mellow Man read the book. To my surprise, he’s still around and said I was brave and that the book would help people. It also made him like me a little bit more. It made me blush.

Those are the types of things I want my book to achieve. I want the stigma to be lifted with bipolar. I want people to see that living life with bipolar is full of ups and downs just like with anyone’s life. We just feel it more deeply and more drastically and sometimes artificially is a psychotic break.

Bipolar is living with manic highs of shopping endlessly. Buying $800 worth of 20 pairs of knee-high socks and matching earring for graphic t-shirts. Or, ordering $500 worth of Christmas ornaments. None of which is harmful, except to the bank account. Those are harmless manic highs.

There are dangerous manic highs that lead to heavy drinking and drug use and black outs. Losing time and not knowing how you got to places. Not having alcohol or drugs really take effect on you because your brain is already scrambled. Losing time is difficult because you lose things, personal possessions, possible accidents, harm someone or yourself and not even remember.

The depression is difficult because you lose yourself into it’s depth. It swallows you whole and you fall so deep you can’t escape. You are at the bottom of a well with nothing to get you out. You may as well be the lady trapped by Buffalo Bill in the well in Silence of the Lambs. You’re not getting out and the FBI isn’t coming for you.

Depression snuffs out your light and gives you dark thoughts. You can’t positive think your way out of it. It’s all darkness and haze. Fog around the mirror. Days without showers and brushing your teeth. Thoughts of suicide or self harm.

These events of mania and depression come in waves. They last weeks, months, sometimes days. I gets months of mania and sometimes a day or two of depression. The depression I get I usually self-harm. There is almost always a trigger for my depression. Words, events, something out of my control that causes me to spiral. It doesn’t last long but it’s there.

Everyone’s bipolar is different. There are a few different types of bipolar. Treatment for each one is different. What works for me won’t work for someone else. What works for me now, may not work in another six months.

That’s troublesome to think your steady life can be upheaved at any moment. The stability you have worked for can be shifted back to instability.

Taking meds daily and monitoring your mood is essential. You have to know yourself enough to know when there is trouble on the rise. Depending on how my brain feels, I have to up and down my meds throughout the year. It’s a tricky balance but you’ve got to try to maintain it.

I get manic in the summer and winter and do well inn the spring and fall. My doctor and I work together to adjust my meds accordingly. We try different things. Sometimes it works, sometimes I see giant spiders running at me across the table and disappearing. (that dosage didn’t work).

With all the ups and downs, people with bipolar adjust their lives as they adjust their meds. We role with the punches. We try to give ourselves grace when we can. We are hard on ourselves. We don’t need the world to judge us. We need acceptance.

We have quirks. We have moments that we are not quite right and need help not judgement.

During this month, educate yourself on what it is have a friend who is mentally ill. You can’t solve the problem for them. But you can ask them, “What can I do to help?” “What do you need me to do?” “Do you need me to help you?”

Don’t just ask what’s wrong. You won’t get a straight answer. Just be understanding and compassionate. Listen for what they need without judgement. Even if they are telling you there’s a five-foot dragon talking too loudly next to them. Tell them you’ll be over to meet the dragon and the three of you can have a conversation on how to move forward.

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