Thursday, August 4, 2016

Guest Post - The Question I Dread Answering About My Bipolar Disorder by Madelyn Heslet

When getting to know someone, you ask a series of questions:
What do you do?
Where are you from?
What are your hobbies?
As a person with bipolar disorder, I get asked the same questions. But when someone gets to know me well enough, they ask me a different set of questions:
Why?
Why do you feel that way?
Why did you do that?
Why did you say that to me?
The answer is complicated, which is the reason that “Why?” is my least favorite question. It’s difficult to explain my bipolar disorder to someone who isn’t also diagnosed, but usually, I find a way. The part of my illness that is the most difficult to explain is how I have very little control of myself, my emotions and my actions during a bipolar episode.
People assume since I’m on medication, I must be able to fully control my bipolar disorder, but that’s not true. My medication helps me manage my illness, not control it — at least that’s how I feel. Despite regularly taking my medication, I feel out of control more often than not.
People, even those closest to me, can’t comprehend what it means to have no control over your life. They don’t know how it feels to be controlled by this alien that is bipolar disorder. They don’t understand when they ask me why, I can’t say anything but, “I don’t know.”
I really don’t know. I know my illness controls my thoughts, feelings and actions, but I don’t know why I can’t gain control. Maybe it has something to do with my strength. Maybe I’m not strong enough to take back control of my life. Again, I don’t know. All I know is most of the time, I feel completely powerless, like I have no choice about how I want to feel.
It’s hard to explain how out of control I feel. It seems like no matter how I try to word my explanation, nobody understands anyway. I feel like I don’t even understand it myself, like I’m the one who needs the explanation. If I don’t understand this part of my illness, how can anyone else understand? I realize I need to find the answer, consult my doctor or therapist and finally take back power over my life.
I have no explanation, but I have come to the realization is is possible to regain control over my bipolar disorder. I’ve realized I am the one who needs the explanation, and that’s why this is the part of my bipolar disorder that is the most difficult to explain.
About the Author:
Madelyn Daphney is a 24 year old single mother, writer, mental health advocate and cat lover. She spends her time chasing her toddler and writing about her mental health journey to do her part in ending the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
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