October 31st 2012 was the day I got the call. A call that only lasted three minutes, but changed my life completely.
I heard the words “You are bipolar type 2”… and the rest is just a haze. It’s blank.
I remember sitting on the couch with the words ringing in my head over and over again in a loop, on repeat. Tears rolling down my cheeks and feeling broken and damaged. Fear creeping in… A thousand thoughts running through my mind. How will my life be now? There is something wrong with me. I have a disorder I will never get rid of. I will always be sick. I will always be dependent on medication. So many questions, but no answers.
But that’s not where the story begins. Let’s start at the beginning…
I got my first real depression when I was in high school. I felt overwhelmed. I had no energy. I cried all the time. It felt like sadness ran in my veins, it festered and took over my whole body. I felt empty. I felt so alone. There were times when I didn’t get out of bed for days. My anxiety pulled me down and suffocated me. I had a rip in my heart and an ache in my soul… It got so bad that I had to drop out my senior year and I felt even worse, I felt like a complete failure. Like it was somehow my fault that I got sick. What if I would have done that, what if I would have been better, what if…?
I’ve been battling depression for 13 years now. I’ve had numerous psychologist, therapist, counselors and doctors. I can’t even count all the different medications, pills and all the side-effects that go with them. I’ve had ups and downs. More downs than ups. Years of sadness. The self-loathing, the insecurities and the self-doubt.
I isolated myself. It was too hard to show that I was vulnerable. I put on a mask because this was my secret, my burden to carry. I locked and buried my feelings and thoughts in a box. Marked it with -do not enter and threw away the key. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to live either.
I’ve always been afraid of what other people will think of me. Will they still like me? Will they see me in a different light? Will they see me as damaged goods, as I do? Will they label me as a crazy person the minute I tell them I’m bipolar?
But nothing has been more damaging than how I saw myself. I was worthless. I had no purpose. I wasn’t good enough… I’ve always been focused on results. Everything had to be perfect. No, more than perfect. And now I had nothing to show for. I had no education, no job, no kids, no house…
I felt like my life was on pause, like I was on the sidelines and everybody else lived their lives. I could only watch and the merry-go-round kept on going. I didn’t see a future. How could anybody love me? How could anybody cope with my disease?
But then came the phone call. As terrible as it was, it was also a relief. Now I knew what was “wrong” with me. Finally!
It has almost been three years since that cold October day. I have started to find a balance. I have the right medication. I understand myself better. I’m trying to to tell myself that I’m not my decease. I’m not bipolar, I have a bipolar disorder. I’m fighting hard to be comfortable in my own skin. To be more gentle with myself. Accept and love who I am. Love who I am becoming. Trying hard not to get bitter that they didn’t diagnose me earlier. Trying not to dwell in the past.
Because I do have a future. I will finish school, I will find a job, I will have kids, a house and a dog. I will have everything I hope and dream for. Step by step I get closer.
In spite of everything I am loved because I am so worth loving.
Written and love on by Helena Kipinä. Agee 33. Borås, Sweden.