2016 Peace Charlie Winning Essay

I used to keep my emotional struggles a secret. I was embarrassed of how unstable I felt. Some days, my energy and enthusiasm was over-the-top and once I began to think about my behavior during my manic episode I would feel ashamed for being “too much”. On other days, I would have strong desires of hurting myself or even ending my life because I felt so overwhelmed with negative emotions that were often for no reason in particular. I felt that if I were to voice my feelings I would be a burden or people would just assume I was saying it for attention. But this was no way to live. I felt terribly alone.

After years and years of severe depression and what seemed to be random extremely positive days, I finally told my mom I needed help. I needed to see a doctor and get on medication, and I did. Hearing from a doctor that I am bipolar felt like an unexpected punch in the gut, but at the same time a huge relief because I finally understood what was going on with me and could take the necessary steps to get better. At first I felt a lot of self-pity and embarrassment, but have since realized that I should have no shame in who I am.

Yes, my mood disorder can be a major setback at times, but it also makes me who I am. My manic side gives me my fun, personable, lively personality; while my depressive side allows me to understand and care about the emotional struggles that those around me are going through. I am not shy about talking about my bipolar disorder to close friends and my parents, but I will admit I still get worried people who do not know me as well will think I am crazy if they discover my mood disorder.

While most of those close to me all responded in a loving, understanding way when I told them I was bipolar, I recently had a guy who I was seeing respond in a way that hurt me.  After I told him, he made a comment about hoping to never see me when I was off my meds, and would often make comments about me being “the crazy one”. I wish everyone would respond the way my closest friends and family did. They were nothing but understanding and caring. When someone has a mood disorder or mental illness, they have to deal with it every single day.

I wish people would understand that it is not something we can just chose to ignore and live carelessly as if it does not exist. We have to be strong. Some mornings, I have to fight myself to even get out of bed and take my medications. Some days, I want to just give in and let me moods control me instead of taking the steps to control them. It is not easy to live with bipolar disorder, but finally speaking up has been one of the best decisions I have made.

 

Carissa from Virginia