Bipolar Disorder

What does mental illness look like?

faces of mental illnessDepression.  Is depression only depicted as a person who cannot get out of bed or who cries continuously?

Anxiety. Does anxiety look like a person who is shaking and hyperventilating?

Bipolar Disorder.  Are those with Bipolar Disorder raging, elated, nymphomaniacs that bounce from store to store liquidating the store’s stock?

 

When I look in the mirror, I don’t see what is described above.  I see a woman in a black pencil skirt, black polka dotted shirt, hair in a neat bun, moderate makeup adorning my face and kitten pump heels on my feet.  Most days I see a smiling face, with light and glimmers of sun sparkles in my eyes.  I see a person who is not only a person living with mental illness but a partner, step mom and employee.  And you know, some days, I take a second take, because I swear I see Wonder Woman in my reflection and I think, what’s up good lookin’?

From afar, it is perceived that I am fine.  Dictionary.com describes the word “fine” as an adjective that means of high quality.  And I guess I portray the image of high quality.  But, still waters run deep.  I have been in varying stages of recovery for the Bipolar that I was diagnosed with two years ago.  Most recently, I have far more good days than bad days.  However, I have had some hiccups along the way.

I had a medication change last week due to debilitating anxiety that is far worse when I am driving.  The change in medication has caused numerous side effects that have been hard to temper.  The splitting headache and nausea are getting the best of me.  As the last week has progressed I have noticed that each day I lack desire to perform normal tasks.  I am not performing as well at work, choosing to stare at my computer screen rather than diving into tasks and working towards completion.  When I arrive home, I am tired and don’t want to do much more than to stare at the wall.  I have fallen behind in my college classwork and now am rushing to meet a Friday deadline for a paper that I have had two weeks to work on.

But, I post selfies on Facebook and Instagram and I look happy, so I must be happy, right?  Is it perceived that I am doing well because I am showing up to my job, making dinner each night and being attentive to my family?  Am I just suffering from side effects of the medication change?  Is this depression?  Can I mentally talk myself out of this fog I am currently existing in?  Is what I am going through the real face of Bipolar Disorder?

At every point in my life where I have been on this rollercoaster, where I am experiencing a variety of highs and lows, I pull myself up from my boot straps and I press on.  I persevere through the yuck and the muck knowing that what I am experiencing is only temporarily.  I hold my head up high and march forward.  But some days it is really, really hard.  The depression has taken grasp of my ankles and I feel like I am pulling it along with my every step as if I had a toddler holding onto my legs while they are kicking and screaming about a toy I refuse to buy them while at the store.  I refuse to give in or up.

I cried in the car yesterday because I was so frustrated with the recent events that have taken place.  But when I reached the location for my meeting, I wiped my eyes and stood tall.  I was on point for the meeting and the result was the successful completion of several lingering tasks.

With the weekend approaching, I have much planned, exercise and crafting, two things that I really enjoy doing and activities that bring me happiness and that warmness deep in my soul.  I know I will not want to do all that I have planned, but I hope to hold myself accountable and attend all activities.

If you are struggling, don’t give up.  Remember that this is temporary, and it too shall pass.  You are strong enough to conquer this!

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