Posted on April 7, 2012

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in the summer of 2002. Bipolar Disorder was a specific diagnosis that for the first eight months, I dangerously denied, ignored, and intensely avoided. I risked my life because the stigma of a significant mental illness in our society is so tangible and alive it reached out and got such a grip on me that I was virtually paralyzed. I survived those perilous months, but eventually, I landed in the hospital. I could no longer hide from my Bipolar Disorder, but I was just beginning a long journey of hiding it from others.

I have learned how to live with my Bipolar Disorder. How to balance manic and depressive episodes with a full-time job. How to duck and dodge major questions when I quietly disappear for a week at a time. How to determine who I can trust and let into my reality. Each time I am hospitalized, I am discharged like a horse coming out of the starting gates. Poised to work even harder to prove myself to those who knew my whereabouts and determined to secure my secret from those who didn’t. Each time I am dragged to the depths of depression I am ‘home sick with the flu.’ When I am flying high with mania, I play games in my head to try and not be as happy as I feel. The truth is, I avoid you when I am not what you would consider to be ‘myself.’

Bipolar Disorder has brought me through the peaks and valleys of creativity and sensitivity. Because of it I have written more, drawn more, and simply made more. Because of it I care more, I understand more, and have more compassion for myself and others. Because of it I am a stronger more persevering person. But I am also an individual aside from my mental illness. I have a strong moral compass and my M.Ed. I am full of love and curiosity. I am a friend, a daughter, a sister and a someday mother.