Life with Mental Illness: A Story of Acceptance
Guest Post By: The Bipolar Babe
A Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder
When I was in elementary school, I noticed that I felt things to a much deeper extent than my peers, which encouraged me to approach my friends about it. When I revealed to a friend that I thought something might be wrong with me, she said I was being overly dramatic about it. A few years later in the eighth grade, I told my best friend that I felt like I was depressed and shared with her the intense feelings that were internally consuming me. She responded with, “I’m sorry, but I have no idea what you’re talking about.” It was evident that she struggled to relate to my extreme emotions.
Following those two incidents, I kept quiet for a very long time. At the age of 19, I finally reached out. After pacing around in my room for three hours, I went downstairs and told my parents that I needed help. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I knew that something was off. I couldn’t get out of bed. Life didn’t feel worth living. I was afraid of everything.
I set up an appointment with a therapist who laughed in my face after I shared one of my experiences. It was a horrible encounter. Fortunately, I found an amazing psychiatric nurse practitioner, who I still see now, four years later. I was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder and severe anxiety, but after a closer look, it was determined that I have bipolar II disorder, along with anxiety and binge eating disorder.
I was so relieved that I finally had a name to put to what I was feeling. However, it would not take long before I got a reality check and was faced with stigma. When my dad picked me up from the appointment, I told him about my diagnosis to which he responded, “Oh well, they like to put a name to everything these days.” It was as if he didn’t believe me. After our conversation, I thought it would be best if I kept my diagnosis of bipolar hidden from those around me. I was cautious about who I shared this information with.
When I opened up to my friends, some of them understood, and others acted as though they feared me. I lost a lot of friends, but I can see now that I was too outspoken for them. It showed me the people who were going to contribute positively to my life and those who were not.
Accepting My Diagnosis on Instagram
After these experiences, I decided to talk openly about my life with mental illness on social media. It was when I started my Instagram page, @thebipolarbabe, that I came to accept my diagnosis. I felt motivated to stand up to stigma and confront it head on, but I knew I couldn’t do that by sitting around and watching from the sidelines. At the start of the page, I was nervous about sharing my opinions and opening up about my life, but I knew this was something I had to do. I needed and wanted to become a voice for people who felt silenced by stigma.
It’s been almost a year now since the start of my mental health page, and I’ve created incredible relationships online and in person. You wouldn’t believe the number of friendships I have built with people I already knew who felt they could relate to me after creating this page. I receive messages every day asking for advice on various situations regarding mental health. I am truly blessed and honored to have the opportunity to help people, from all different backgrounds, deal with the problems they are facing. It makes me feel like I’ve finally found my purpose-I want to help people.
Creating this page has inspired me to leave my corporate job and go back to graduate school to become a school guidance counselor. I am confident in where I should be as someone helping individuals every day. Accepting my diagnosis has allowed me to become who I was always meant to be.
If you were to ask me, “If you could change things and not have bipolar disorder, would you?” My answer would be, “Absolutely not.” Of course, I have hard times just like anyone living with a mental illness, but because of these hardships, I have become a more loving, and an empathetic person. It’s all worth it. Accepting who you are in this very moment is a beautiful thing. We should all strive to accept ourselves, which is why I am happy to have finally accepted my diagnoses after years of wondering.
About the Author Of, Life with Mental Illness: A Story of Acceptance
TheBipolarBabe is a 22-year-old New Yorker who is passionate about making a difference in the mental health space. She stands up to stigma every day using her blog and Instagram page to talk about important issues and share personal stories from her own life.
She is also a freelance hair, makeup artist, skincare consultant, and cannot wait to add guidance counselor to the list in the near future. TheBipolarBabe is excited to continue her journey to self-love and self-acceptance. She wants to encourage others on their own journeys to happiness.