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.

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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.

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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.

Bipolar disorder has taught me humility. What’s the worst thing that could happen to a type A personality who was really into control and emotionally stoic? BPD. You are no longer in complete control. I think I’ve finally accepted the fact that I am ill and that I’m no longer in complete control. 

“Living with a mental illness is a study in survival. Every day, every emotion is questioned. What is this? Am I happy or am I starting to head towards mania?” —Bassey Ikpi

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2014 is the year I woke up. Depression can have a blackout impact. I feel as if I’ve just awakened, but the last time I was awake was sometime in 2011. Much of 2012 and 2013 is lost to me. Memories are flooding back, albeit fuzzy. Old traits are coming back. It’s as if old Diamond is desperately trying to get out. I hope she does.

On my 25th birthday, I’d like to thank everyone who helped me get here. The past three years of my life have put me through the wire.

Diamond Sharp is an editorial fellow at The Root. A version of this piece originally appeared on her blog, Shepherds Not Sheep. Follow her on Twitter.

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