Bipolar Disorder · mental health

Describing My Illness

Mental illness is very misunderstood. People can’t wrap their head around it. People are scared of things that they don’t understand. I’m not going to lie, I have been very scared. I like to describe my illness in a way that people can relate to. Most everyone knows someone who has had a broken a bone, but not everyone knows someone with a mental illness. So take for example two people. Same average body type. Everything is normal on the outside, but on the inside one has strong bones and the other has brittle bones. Now they go through life. The one with the strong bones stumbles and falls. They get up, brush off the dirt and walk on. The one with brittle bones stumbles and falls. Not only can they not get up on their own, they will probably need medication, possible hospitalization and a long recovery just to fix all the broken bones from the same fall. This is a very simple way of describing it because we all know that everyone has ups and downs and struggles along the way. But imagine if you had chronic back pain. Some people just have it without a prior injury. Your body is attacking you, for whatever reason. Mental illness is your brain attacking you. As with back pain, some people have experiences that cause this and some don’t. And your brain is smart. It is what makes your entire body function. So when it decides to fail on you, your whole body fails. You know that voice you have inside your head? Well, mine lies to me all the time. It tells me that no one likes me. That know one wants to hear my sob stories, and no one will love me. That I am ugly and fat. That my kids don’t like me. It actually convinced me that a man couldn’t possibly love me the way I could love him. After you’ve heard it a thousand times, you start to believe it. I have to fight it EVERY day. My illness is so much more than just being depressed and then hypo manic. That is a part of the vicious cycle, but I have to prepare everyday for the depression or hypo mania that may come tomorrow. I have to keep in check my temper because my illness makes me lose control of it and sometimes, my inhibitions. I have to calm the anxiety that is happening all the time because I need to check the mail and my very nice neighbor may come out to talk to me. Sounds irrational, right? My brain tells me it is rational. This is my truth. You wouldn’t know by looking at me that I have “brittle bones.”

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