I Wrote This The Day I Was Diagnosed As Bi-Polar

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The day I learned I was Bi-Polar, I wrote a poem. Today, I’ve placed it at the end of this article in hopes that someone will read it and know they are not alone, but also in hopes that they choose to fight for a better version of themselves. It is not a battle you fight once, but daily. I did this for you.

My Story Begins Here

In 2017, I was formally diagnosed as bi-polar. Prior to this my life was a never ending roller coaster of shambles and wins. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I knew something was terribly wrong. After beginning law school, I began to struggle to keep up. Knowing that I had previously been diagnosed with ADD and declined medication, I decided to visit a psychiatrist in order to get some help.
I expected to hear my ADD diagnosis, but what the doctor said in the next 5 seconds changed my entire life.
“On a scale of 1- 10 for  the severity of Bi-Polar, you would be a 23”
That statement shook me to my core. Surely I was not Bi-Polar. I simply came in because I was having difficulty focusing in law school. I am not mentally ill. I would have known!

Hindsight Is 2020

Looking back I could see that he may be correct. I spent time researching the symptoms. It was like reading my own story. The doctor was not exaggerating. If Bi-Polar was a person, I was it.

From the age of 19 I had problems controlling my temper. I would have terrible outbursts and my responses to small issues were completely out of proportion to the problem. Living in a body that does not know how to properly assess what’s a big deal and what is small potatoes is a painful existence. While others may feel drained dealing with yet another exaggerated tantrum, they can choose to leave. When the issue is your  own mind, you never get a break. Over time you can become just as drained and irritated with your behavior as everyone else. You may even begin to despise yourself.

Reflecting on my past was difficult. I began to recall times I had gotten out of the car to walk in the middle of the freeway because I was mad. The time I destroyed an entire living room because I felt unheard. I thought back on my decision to quit a job because of what I now see as a minor miscommunication. Hindsight made it clear for me. Things I once felt completely justified in doing, I now understood was not normal behavior.

I really was the crazy person you see walking down the freeway with no shoes.

Literally.

The Pain Can Be Unbearable

After I left the doctor, I did not fill my prescription. I could handle things on my own. I had made it this far without any trouble.

As time progressed and I sat in my room with my thoughts, I acknowledged for the first time just how much pain I was in. My entire adulthood I had suffered so long it was my state of normalcy. I began to pity myself for the things I had been enduring silently. I blamed myself for the ruined relationships and friendships. I mourned the person I believed I was, and began to see myself for who I had been in the eyes of others.

The worst thing about Bi-Polar disorder is that you truly do feel justified. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve said “If you would just stop bothering me we would all be ok”. You may think they were over-reacting but for someone with Bi-Polar disorder, they are responding the same way you would if your body produced the same hormonal responses. The difference being what it takes to trigger the production of an amount so large it causes you to lash out. For people like me, the brain regularly screws up the dosage.

It’s as if we are drugged by our own bodies.

Imagine life in which you feel you are antagonized daily. Everyone means harm to you, regardless of their intentions. Imagine each day experiencing the pain of a betrayal even when none exists, simply because your brain cannot tell the difference between a simple mistake and an all out attack on you personally.

What if your brain perceived the same amount of pain for a paper cut as it did a broken leg. Think of how differently you would experience the world. Everywhere you look could potentially be another source of agony.

I Had To Change The Way I looked At Things

It was easy to wallow in my pain. It would have been even easier to use my diagnosis as a crutch, after all  I couldn’t help how my brain was wired. It is just the way I am. I started to blame everyone else for my shortcomings internally. It wasn’t until I shared with a friend what I was feeling that I began to change my perspective.

After I purged out all of my raw emotions and misplaced anger, my friend asked a simple question.

“Why don’t you just take the medication? “

It was such a simple question to which I had no answer. Why not take the medicine? Was I afraid of frying my brain? Did I fear being labeled? Was I concerned about employers finding out that I am Bi-Polar ? I couldn’t answer him.

I had spent so much time being angry that I had this disease, being sad and frustrated and hurt. Not once did it occur to me that just maybe my disease was also tricking me into believing I was doomed. A large part of the disorder is extreme lows to match those extreme highs.

For the first time since I heard my diagnosis, I understood that I was sick.

My actions were not a real representation of me any more than a body damaged from cancer is a true representation of that person. If I wanted to lessen the pain of my burdensome mind, I was going to need to treat my illness and fast.

I needed a release.

The entire conversation left me motivated to make some major changes in my life. Even though I was more than ready to move, my initial feelings still lingered. I knew I needed to let them out, otherwise they would hinder my growth.

Being the creative I am, I looked to my talents to provide a cathartic release. I hadn’t written poetry since grade school but I knew it would be the best way for me to capture my feelings and release them into the universe.

It worked!

Not quite ready to share my feelings with the world I tucked the poem away. I wanted to truly be at a great place of acceptance before sharing. It was my goal to rebuild myself. I wanted to be healed first. I dreamed of shining so bright, I would be a beacon for others.

I waited to share this poem until I could say proudly, I have overcome.

I wrote this poem the day I was diagnosed as Bi-Polar.

I am the Granddaughter of Irma Jean Wright,

or Francis … or the last name of whoever the last man she was married to

They called her the black widow because she had many husbands, and they all died, save 1

He got out unscathed.. maybe by then she was too old for pie baking

I kid,

But at as a kid, my Grandmother was the uneasy feeling you get in your butt when your walking home from school knowing you have a bad note in your backpack for your mother.

Let me explain, my grandmother was riddled with mental illness.

In uproar I protested when suggested I was anything like her.

Some say it was all the drugs.

Others that the drugs helped her cope, but nope.

Not me, it couldn’t be that I was of her

Conferring with my Dr. as of late, now at age 28

Hearing the words Bi-Polar pierce my ear drums as if he knew exactly what that meant for me.

A diagnosis that throbbed, robbing me of the rose colored glasses through which I saw my reflection in the shattered mirror I destroyed last week.

It’s not like I ever wanted to throw those tantrums, people just keep pissing me off.

The swings my mood likes to take, land as hard punches to the face of my loved ones, who don’t run but beg me to put a leash on my anger

I’m no fighter, I don’t get physical but words do hurt no matter what the teacher told you in school.

Tones can end friendships and burn bridges to places you absolutely loved visiting.

Making it something you can look at… longingly, knowing you can never have it again

It’s not all bad.

The false sense of superiority leaves me believing I can do anything.

I can dream, and dream better than anyone.

My illness is my affirmation.

Everyday adding to the list of things I have accomplished because I believed I could.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to have no fear of failure, I can tell you what it’s like.

Owning 4 businesses, starting 3 house projects, having two spouses and trying to get a law degree…

Great right?

Who doesn’t want the ups and highs, the extreme euphoric confidence that comes with my disease

Man please.. with ease I can tackle your biggest of obstacles.

Throw them over my shoulder, onto my back and keep climbing as if it were weightless

Wait, this…

Is a blessing to possess, these are special powers, I can work for hours, go days without food, nights without sleep, I don’t get to weep, my illness keeps me from feeling.

Apathic, I struggle to empathize and realize, I’m connected to everyone and attached to practically no one.

To cut you off takes me 5 minutes

Think of how that limits

Think of how it feels to know you just don’t care.

Though others do, and look at you .. look at you as if you’re the one that’s wrong when you are just as strong. 

Simply objective.

As I hear the diagnosis it’s clearly an opus of my life.

The notes, familiar and comforting like they know me.

I am Irma Jean’s Granddaughter

The opus rings notes my grandmother would sing, in a language I couldn’t then understand but here I stand singing the same song

Lyrics no longer a foreign tongue, but formerly unbeknown to me my foundation.

This situation, finds me at my height.

Try as I might to highlight the beauty in the gift my brain chemistry has created, the shadows are way to eager to pull me back into reality.

With the highest of highs comes the lowest of lows.

My dullness shows through sunken places of despair I forgot existed while I was in the clouds.

The crowds who’ve gathered to watch me climb, witness a tumble like no other and we know they all love to watch a great fall.

After all

It’s who we are right

Strapped in tight.

Buckle up for a bout of depression

So debilitating I can’t get out of bed, or lift my head, or turn on a light. I can’t fight.

There is no fight left in me

As if you’re only given enough positive energy to last you a month and I used mine all up in the two weeks I spent building an entire business from business plan to buildout without stopping and now

I have nothing left for myself

Joy is wealth and I now spend my days at the unemployment line. Hungry and desperate ,desolate and alone I reach out to my illness like my dealer

Haven’t seen sunlight in days, they say Jesus saves but he hasn’t been by so what now.

I am Irma Jean’s Granddaughter and her genes gave me more than I bargained for.

On the floor I long for last weeks symptoms. Then somehow I’d be able to become something other than this puddle.

Read More From Myi Matthews

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