Letter to a Bipolar

In March 2012, when I was celebrating my 15th birthday with a beautiful party, and just before it ended, I made a toast, thanking all the guests for loving me despite my bipolarity.

The Woman Post | Andrea Gutiérrez

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Some days later, my aunt told me to watch my words since she noticed everyone got uncomfortable when I implied I was bipolar. I also remember thinking she was overreacting. Of course, at the time, I didn't realize the real meaning of that word and couldn't possibly imagine that ten years later, I would be living with bipolar disorder and all the perks that come with this diagnosis.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 45 million people worldwide have Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness. This mental illness can take a person from a deep depression to a manic episode in days, affecting their mood, energy levels, and concentration. So, if you are wondering, a bipolar person is not someone who changes their emotions quickly in one day (although there is a personality disorder that matches the description).

Since mental health research is recent, there is a lot of misinformation and hypothesis. That's why Bipolar Disorder is difficult to diagnose, understand, and treat. Like other mental diseases, there are no specific explanations of why a person gets it, but it's most likely that it has something to do with genetics.

I've been struggling with my mental health for a long time but received my first diagnosis back in 2016, and it was not Bipolar Disorder. During the last five years, I've been diagnosed with Depression, Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder (the one that matches the description of changing moods quickly, among other things), and lastly, Bipolar Disorder.

Given my experience and considering that World Bipolar Day was celebrated on March 30th, The Woman Post brings you eight essential keys to understanding this disease and helping the people affected by it.

1. Bipolar disorder is as real as any other disease you have known, like diabetes or arthrosis. It won't go away only if the person puts their best face. The only treatment is with psychiatric drugs and therapy with a psychiatrist.

2. Bipolar disorder, like other mental diseases, doesn't have a cure but a treatment. A person that has been diagnosed with bipolarity can have a perfectly normal life by just taking some pills and visiting the doctor regularly.

3. Even when a bipolar person does everything right, they might have some relapse. If you know someone in this situation, be empathetic, they're already judging themselves in their mind.

4. Don't say things like "you look normal to me" to a person who just shared their mental disease diagnosis with you. We have a real struggle, even though you only see a small percentage of it.

Also read: RESILIENCE: QUALITY, VIRTUE, OR ABILITY?

5. If, for some reason, you know a bipolar person that tried to harm themselves, don't judge them. I can tell that most of us don't want to die. We want the emotional pain to end. Also, the last thing a mentally ill person needs to hear is why they have to stay alive because they already know it. It doesn't have to do with what we have in our lives. It's a disease we can't control.

6. Don't use the word "bipolar" to make jokes, shame, or insult someone else or yourself. I got this the hard way. Being bipolar has nothing to do with being angry one day and the following not, or liking someone and then not.

7. If you feel like your emotions are overwhelming and think you can have bipolar disorder, please, go to the psychiatrist. Mental health is not for crazy people; it is for people who want to feel good and enjoy life.

8. Talk about your mental health and having Bipolar Disorder or any mental disorder. The more you talk about it, the more people will understand and stop judging those with a mental disease.

Finally, if you have Bipolar Disorder, it will be okay. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but you will get better and have the life you dream of. Remember that you are not your diagnosis (even though it can be part of you). You are so much more, and you will never be alone in this journey.

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