mental health

World Bipolar Day 2019

Trigger/Content Warning: Mention of past suicidal thoughts.

Today (March 30, 2019) is World Bipolar Day. Tomorrow (March 31, 2019) I turn 30. These two things may not seem to be particularly related at first glance, but having World Bipolar Day fall the day before my birthday is incredibly meaningful to me. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2013, but my struggles with mental health started way back when I was 13. While every birthday is cause for celebration, there were so many times throughout my life that I thought I’d never make it to thirty, so this birthday feels really special to me. There have been many times in my life when I’ve been incredibly depressed and considered suicide. Because of this, I was certain I would never make it to 30.

Today, on World Bipolar Day, I want to reduce some of the stigma associated with Bipolar Disorder. I want to be honest about the fact that I’ve experienced pretty much all of the symptoms classically associated with mania and depression. You know someone who has spent money recklessly, hallucinated, been delusional, and experienced psychosis. You know someone who has been so depressed that I’ve considered ending my life rather than go on in pain. You know someone who experiences mixed episodes, which means I experience all of the heightened energy associated with mania while having extremely negative and harmful thoughts associated with depression at the same time. You know someone who has Bipolar Disorder and, honestly, I’m not so different from you.

I have good days and bad days. Since last May, I’m thankful to report they have been mostly good days. But over the course of the past five and a half years, there have been many days where I could barely get out of bed or where I couldn’t sleep at all. Conversely, my good days look pretty normal. I smile and laugh and hang out with my friends. I read. I play with my dog. I eat. I drink tea. I write. I plan for the future. I have Bipolar Disorder, but that doesn’t mean that I’m violent as is so often stigmatized. People with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. I have Bipolar Disorder, but I’m still a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a niece, a friend, and a dog mom.

I have Bipolar Disorder and I have struggled with depression and anxiety for 17 years, but tomorrow I will turn 30. I have made it 17 years when there were times I thought I’d never make it for another single day. I’m not usually that into birthdays, but I’m definitely into this one. Tomorrow, I will turn 30 and that by itself is such an accomplishment for me.

To learn more about World Bipolar Day, visit http://www.worldbipolarday.org.

#WorldBipolarDay #WorldBipolarDay2019

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Books

September 1, 2017

*Nineteen Years Later*

Today is Harry Potter Epilogue Day.  It’s the date, nineteen years from the Battle of Hogwarts, when Albus Severus will board the Hogwarts Express for the first time, stressing out about what house he will be placed in.  It’s the date that Ron and Harry see Scorpius Malfoy for the first time.  It’s the date we find out that Harry is happily married to Ginny with three children and Ron and Hermione are married with two children.  It’s the date we found out “All was well.”

In honor of epilogue day, I’m going to talk yet again about what Harry Potter has meant to me over the years.  It’s so much more than a book and movie series to me and many people don’t understand my passion for it.  I received the first three books as a gift from my parents on Christmas Day during my fifth grade year.  I accidentally picked up the second book first and was very confused, but figured out within the first few pages what I had done.  I read all three books in about two days and then I just had to keep re-reading them because the fourth book wouldn’t come out until July 8, 2000, the summer between fifth and sixth grade.

My friends and I would pretend to be Ron, Harry, and Hermione and run around with sticks for wands.  I received my copy of Goblet of Fire in the mail and couldn’t put it down, barely sleeping and taking it to summer camp with me during the day until I finished it.  I had to wait almost three years for the fifth book, which came out the summer after 8th grade.  I started suffering from depression in seventh grade, so the books got dark around the time my life did.

In high school, there were a couple of times when I was suicidal, but decided not to kill myself because I had to know how Harry Potter ended (and I couldn’t leave my family behind, but Harry Potter was a big factor, too).  J.K. Rowling quite literally saved my life with the books she wrote.  Aside from needing to know how the books would end, the books gave me hope.  More than being stories about magic, they are stories about love, hope, family, friendship, courage, loyalty and good conquering evil.  The characters may be fictional, but they are like old friends to me.  J

.K. Rowling taught me that Dementors don’t have to be the end and that  I can survive hard feelings.  She created the Dementors as an allegory for depression and I can’t think of a better one in any literature I’ve read.  They suck all of the happiness away and make you feel as though you’ll never be cheerful again, which is exactly what depression does to me.

When I find myself feeling sad or lonely, watching or reading Harry Potter always makes me feel better about my life, even if it’s just temporary.  So Happy Epilogue Day.  I hope the Harry Potter series can bring joy and peace to others the way it does for me.  I’m off to watch some Harry Potter!