In 2015, I was diagnosed with bipolar type 2 and social anxiety disorder. Since the diagnosis, I have struggled to keep a job, to keep friends and to have a life. I suffer from hypersomnia too, where I find myself sleeping for 12+ hours when I can, just to feel normal. I've been struggling with my moods since I was 11; I'm now almost 28. I couldn't get diagnosed earlier due to my moods being just as erratic as teenagers. I find myself switching from depression, to anger, to blind rage, and then to feeling guilty. There is rarely a day where I fee balanced. But now, I'm on the road to recovery, I hope.
My moods are erratic, one day I'll be the nicest person you know, the next, I'm the spawn of Satan and I still have no control over how quick these moods change. I often have thoughts where I try to convince myself how much better off everyone would be without me, sometimes I find myself feeling isolated and alone from everyone and everything. It can be quite scary to feel as though you’re alone. No one should feel that way, and no one should feel excluded just because they have a mental illness.
In 2013, I had a serious breakdown. I just wanted the pain to go away. But, my boyfriend (who wasn’t my boyfriend then) and my best friend looked after me and made sure I was safe. I’m glad I didn’t end my life, but I still didn’t think I needed help. It wasn’t until 2015, when I was terrified to leave the house or I’d have severe panic and anxiety attacks over being surrounded by people, that’s when I knew I needed help. I’m still not good in crowds, but my patience is returning.
It's becoming a struggle to let people understand that I cannot help the way I am. If I snap at someone, I usually am shouting in my head "why are you doing this?" I guess, even after my diagnosis, I'm still on a long road to acceptance. I am lucky to be surrounded by friends and family that either understand, or can relate on some level. Plus, I'm blessed to have a boyfriend who accepts my ups and downs, he doesn't judge me. Sometimes it must be really hard for him to just put up with my moods, rages and crying fits. But he loves me for me.
No one reacts the same when I try to discuss mental health. No one else can relate literally to how I am feeling which I think is why I get a lot of negative remarks from other friends and family. Sometimes people say I’m making the illness up – and I can’t believe that anyone would see a serious illness as a thing to lie about. I have family members that are convinced I’m making the bipolar up for fun, but yet it’s something I do struggle with on a daily basis.
On the other hand, my best friend experiences borderline personality disorder so she can relate to a lot of my problems, and a lot of my close friends give me space when I need it. They are particularly concerned about my negative thoughts. In times of great stress, I struggle to make new friends, and when I do, I tell them straight away that I have bipolar so that I know they are true friends by their reactions. My gran experiences hypomania so we have a great connection, plus she used to be a mental health nurse back in the day, and she has inspired me to study health and social care so I can go down a similar route once I’ve done my degree. My mum is also very supportive – she takes me to a lot of hospital appointments and lets me scream/cry down the phone to her when I need too, which can be very helpful if I need to vent and don’t realise.
But the strongest support I have comes from home, where my boyfriend, my cat and I live. He’s the only one that can see me at my best and potentially my worst in a matter of minutes. He knows how to calm me down by the mood I’m in and he lets me cry when I need to release emotions. I used to suffer from extreme rage but now I just cry it out. It helps to have someone that is willing to let me go through all my emotions without judging or even saying anything that could potentially make it worse.
With this support, I’m moving forward and I find new quirks to having bipolar daily. The creativity I feel the majority of the time is amazing, I just need to find a medium to express it. I'm going to take up photography again, and digital editing. I need to set myself projects, interesting ones that have meaning to my life. Plus I am an avid gamer, and E3 inspires me every year to go into game production, so one day, I might design my own game.
Who knows what the future may bring.
You can find more of Heather's blog posts on her website: thisthingcallednormal.wordpress.com