kept the flowers

Famously bipolar

I had heard of the “typical” bunch of famous people who had/have bipolar disorder. You know, Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, Catherine Zeta-Jonesmaybe Jimi Hendrix, possibly Britney Spears.

But I didn’t know about Catherine Zeta-Jones. And this is a bigger deal to me than others because she is bipolar II like me. I had no idea! It just happened last April, yet somehow I missed this news completely.

I do hope her bravery of facing the public about this did impact people. I hope it melted away some stigma in the public even just a little. People worship celebrities, so they really do have the power to make a difference. Certainly for mental illnesses, someone like Zeta-Jones can be a positive role model and example of someone proactively managing their condition.

Because lord knows, manic depression is a frustrating mess.

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There are storms we cannot weather

When I was in college, my best friend’s father was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer that had spread to his brain. stormIt was very advanced and there was little they could do. It was devastating. My friend was one of six children and extremely close with her father. It was simply unimaginable that this was happening.

Once weekend when I was home, I was visiting my church (more on that later). My old youth group leader asked me how my friend’s dad was doing, and I broke down as I told him. One of the things he said to comfort me has stuck with me throughout the years: “He never gives you more than you can handle.”

As soon as he said it I knew I disagreed. It was a nice thing to say and is probably a nice thing to believe. But I don’t…mostly for the reason that it’s simply not true.

People are given more than they can handle all the time—that’s why people commit suicide. That’s why they quit, run away, and break down.

This has never been more true to me than now, after I’ve been fighting a losing battle with bipolar depression for months on end. I have come to truly understand what “too much” feels like and why someone would take their own life to escape.

So though it’s not comforting, I prefer the truth found in Les Miserables’ I Dreamed a Dream:

But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I think sometimes just acknowledging the hard reality of things can be motivating in and of itself. And when it’s not…there’s always Glee.

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Allow me to question your diagnosis

There are so many fun things about mental illness. It’s a regular smorgasbord of awesome.mental illness

But one of my most recent faves is the diagnosis questioning. i.e., the complete devaluation of your medical condition.

Yes, medical condition. But that’s the problem—people don’t see mental illnesses as real, biological conditions. It goes something like this:

“Yeah, I know you were told you’re bipolar II…but what if you’re not?”

That’s no different than saying, “I know you were told you have diabetes…but what if you don’t?” But so many people don’t see that.

And the worst part of it all is when the questioning comes from friends and family…the people who are on your side, who support you.

So shouldn’t they understand? Why don’t they get it? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because we never receive a real education about mental health; because of the stigma that continues to surround it; because it’s a really scary concept to wrap your head around about someone you love.

Regardless of the cause, it hurts. I don’t know how frequently this happens to other people, but I have to imagine it’s not just me. And that’s what makes me want to do something, anything, to make a difference on this issue…to raise awareness so that the stigma melts away just a little.

Suffering from a mental illness is bad enough—having it questioned on top of that just twists the knife even further.

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I’ll be all right…just not tonight

Sometimes the best way to express what’s in our souls is through a song. But instead of boyfriends and exes, lately I find myself directing lyrics at my bipolar disorder.

Since I’m currently in a depression that’s been haunting me for months, the songs I identify with do tend to be melancholy, however, sometimes there’s also a hint of hope in the lyrics (thankfully I still have hope that I will find medications to make me feel and function like myself again).

The song of the night is Gonna Get Over You by Sara Bareilles.

I’ll be all right, just not tonight,
Someday

I’m not the girl that I intend to be, but
I dare you darling, just you wait and see

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