Because of Bipolar Disorder, I Wasn’t Sure I’d Make It to 25

My Thing Is: The diagnosis took away my sanity, my appetite, my type A personality and any certainty I had that I’d live to see this milestone.

Diamond Sharp
Diamond Sharp Courtesy of Diamond Sharp

I’ve often thought of doing what Sylvia Plath described so poetically: “I thought it would be easy, lying in the tub and seeing the redness flower from my wrists … till I sank to sleep under a surface gaudy as poppies.”

Ever the poet, even my suicidal ideations are perfectly crafted for greatest artistic impact.

Over the past month, I’ve entered recovery. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve spent nearly three years in some version of disarray. Undiagnosed, misdiagnosed and, when finally diagnosed, experimenting with medication. It takes a while for medication to kick in. It took me eight months—up to January.

I spent most of last year in a deep depression. Depression clouds your memory. 2013 is a cloud of feelings for me rather than strong memories. It almost as if I wasn’t present the last year or so. I was there physically, but mentally, I have no idea what happened. I got put through the wringer.

Recovery is like waking up from a coma with amnesia and relearning yourself. Bipolar disorder— BPD, as I call it now—hides your authentic self somewhere deep inside your mind. I’m looking for old Diamond—pre-onset Diamond. If anyone has seen her, tell her I’m looking for her.

I entered a relapse last week. It’s part of the illness. One step forward, two steps back. It’s tiring. I’m tired.

“When you are insane, you are busy being insane—all the time. When I was crazy, that’s all I was.” —Sylvia Plath

Bipolar disorder has consumed my life and taken a lot from me. My sanity, obviously. My appetite (I’d like that back, please) and a host of other things. It’s interfered with my relationships. I was fearful of the diagnosis because all the literature says that friendships and romance are hard for those with BPD.

To say it’s hard is a vast understatement. Even the most understanding person has a limit. Even the most educated isn’t always well versed in mental illness. Reading the BPD prognosis is a hell of a lot different from dealing with it intimately.

How do you explain to someone that yes, it’s me, but it isn’t me? I don’t have an answer to that yet. I’m in the process of healing a relationship, a person I care about deeply who was hurt by my many hypomanic episodes. I didn’t ask for this. I’d very much like to return this illness to the sender, postage included.