― Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
“alone, condemned, deserted, as those who are about to die are alone, there was a luxury in it, an isolation full of sublimity; a freedom which the attached can never know”
― Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
I was recently approached by an acquaintance who, after learning that I was being treated for a mental illness, felt the compelling need to tell me to " stop taking medication. There is nothing wrong with you, you just have to be strong, everybody feels depressed one in a while". I have been told this before, in many different ways. It is very hard to stay grounded when you hear these kinds of arguments. When certain people tell me that I just need to be strong, that I don't need medication I feel hopeless. I feel alone, I feel weak and to be quite honest, I feel like the craziest person in the room.
Of course I have considered these things before. These are some of the reasons why sometimes I find myself denying that I am Bipolar. I tell myself that I can get over this on my own, that is just a matter of courage and strength. It is this kind of distorted thinking that always gets me in trouble. This ultimately interferes with my treatment, I might even become non compliant. It is very dangerous.
I try my best to ignore these comments from people that I know mean well but are unknowingly perpetuating the same mental health stigma.
I try very hard to remind myself that perhaps the courage and the strength come from my decision to fight( because it is a choice), during the highs and the lows, during the horrible episodes. I have to remind myself that perhaps what makes me strong is my relentless effort to keep fighting , always trying to do just a little better each time, no matter how bad it gets.
Other times though, I hear that it is all in my head ( the pain, the emptiness, the oppressing darkness)and that I just need to be strong and I can't help but feeling so utterly lost and hopeless. Sometimes I can't help but wonder : why can't I just get over this?
_At least I don't think I am Bipolar most of the time. I simply refuse to believe it and I often have to read about this illness. I use it as a reminder, a reminder that I am sick. Reading about Bipolar disorder helps me stay grounded, to stay in the moment. Still, no matter how many episodes I have, no matter how many times I go off my medications and I experience a mental breakdown I still, once in a while, completely deny this diagnosis.
I have read that this is common. Some people just start feeling better between episodes, it is easy to think that you are ok and that you no longer need to be treated. Other people like me simply refuse to believe that they are Bipolar. We remember better times, when we felt stronger and more grounded. We are painfully aware of the stigma surrounding Bipolar disorder. We just don't want to believe that we are sick.
So I read, I inform myself, I read about the symptoms over and over until I finally see reality for what it is, not for what I want it to be. It helps me, until the next time I start thinking that I might not have Bipolar Disorder after all.....
Sometimes I wonder if I am in denial But there might be another explanation for this. I found a very helpful article that helped me understand a little better why I sometimes choose to deny that I have Bipolar disorder.
“I am tired of hiding, tired of misspent and knotted energies, tired of the hypocrisy, and tired of acting as though I have something to hide.” Kay Redfield Jamison. The Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness