I had a conversation with a dear friend tonight, and it took me back to something she said to a could-have-been cruicial conversation we had 9 years ago…
Friend; ‘Maybe you have Bipolar disorder?’
‘I doubt that. I am never happy.’
When I look back at my troubled youth to my lost little self, attempting to navigate her way through the foggy maze of heightened teenage emotion; I see her frightened. Bewildered, in to taking more wrong turns than the steady path that she so desperately grasped at and missed. I wish, that there was an Angel, who dutifully held her hand out to her and guided her through the haze, just enough so she could just make out the glimpse of what was on the other side of these walls. Just enough to assure her that one day, everything will make sense.
There was no Angel.
And without direction, I had no faith. Without faith, I was sure to keep falling down.
One of the (many) reasons why I never got diagnosed earlier, I believe, was because there was no one there to tell me how it felt like to be trapped inside the mind of someone who is struggling. What I really needed was for people to assure me and say; Yes, I understand exactly what you are going through. Yes, it is perfectly normal for you to be experiencing for someone with mental health problems. Yes, your feelings are valid. Yes, it is okay to reach out to people and talk about it.
I had a hard time admitting to myself the turmoil I was experiencing inside, never mind asking others for help. I was still in the mindset that having an illness such as Bipolar disorder was just a case of being either ‘sad or happy’. Who was I to know that there was so much more to this? No one ever told me otherwise! No one ever showed me what it was really like to experience and live these difficulties first hand. What it was really like to feel these turbulant emotions, these anxieties, to host these scars. There was no elemental foundations for me to relate my own troubles.
Bipolar and other Mental health conditions are prevalent and talked about in health society these days. There are descriptives, figures, statistics – every where – but what there is lack of is the first hand experiences of these complex, hard to catagorise symptoms and episodes that make it easier for those lost little Megan’s everywhere to place themselves in and say;
“I can relate to this.”
“This is exactly what I am going through.”
Without online mental health forums, stories, blogs and having that crucial access to the like minded community who shared their experiences and fought to reach out to help others, I may still have been sailing along without the breeze to guide me.
So write. Share. Express those emotions within you, however dark they may seem, and however hard they are to bring to the light. Connect. Help. Reach out. Make a difference. Help one more person reach their goal to getting the help they need.
Let’s help people sooner understand that it is okay to say, out loud;
“I am not alone.”