“WHAT ARE YOU??? BIPOLAR??”
I remember the day like it was yesterday. Those words yelled exasperated in my direction. To defend the individual who yelled it, I was being difficult and was once again crying about something… But this moment clings to my memory like a piece of chewing gum on the bottom of a shoe.
That statement wasn’t used as a question to help but a way to criticize and make me feel bad about myself. It was a way to tease. It was a way to label me as crazy. The word Bipolar wasn’t used as a mental illness – it was used as an insult.
I wish in that moment someone – me or the person yelling – had noticed that there was something wrong. I wish somehow that question would have sparked a need to look into it further. Maybe then we would have found out about my mental illness years before it almost killed me.
But that wasn’t the situation. That wasn’t the way it played out. Instead those four words echo’d in my mind years later when I received the diagnosis. I remember the look on that person’s face. I remember tone used, and for a long time after, I felt ashamed. As if having Bipolar Disorder was the worst thing that could happen. As if being Bipolar meant I would always be that girl, sobbing on the couch in the corner. As if being Bipolar meant I would never life a full and happy life.
It’s been (almost) two years since I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and six years after that statement was yelled. I have something to say to that person.
Yeah. I am Bipolar. I have a disorder that can make life miserable at times. But here’s the secret. My Bipolar DOES NOT define me. There is so much more to me than that. My Bipolar has opened hundreds of doors for me to help other struggling people. My Bipolar sparked a passion in me to start a ministry to help people who struggle daily. But most of all, my Bipolar reminds me every since day that I AM STRONG.
So what are you? I’d say uneducated.
Nichole is a Social Media Marketing Manager, student, daughter and friend. She’s working on her Marketing Diploma and has a Certificate of Christian Theology. She is an avid coffee lover who enjoys a good movie or book. She takes great joy in organizing, scheduling, and volunteering. Her passion for volunteerism extends specifically to those who are hurting, whether it is emotionally, physically, or mentally.
Nichole is certified to provide Mental Health First Aid, which means she can provide immediate support and guidance in a safe environment, comfortably have a conversation about mental health related issues and offer professional and other supports. This does NOT make Nichole a psychologist, or a counselor. It simply gives her the tools to direct people to the help they need.