Hi! My name is Matt Cohen, I’m 22 years old, and I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar 2. This journey has been a long and often hard one, but there’s a whole lot to be proud of, not just for me but for everyone at any point in this journey!
Something I am Proud Of:
One thing I’m particularly proud of is that I’ve been writing a lot of poetry about my experiences and that poetry seems to be helping a lot of people feel validated in their own experiences. All I want to do is help people however I can, so it makes my heart very happy to see that I’ve had an impact—even a small one—on people through my writing. This has really helped me become more confident as an advocate for people living with bipolar, like myself, and has even helped me learn how to ask for help when I need it! It definitely feels very validating to know that other people have experienced something similar to myself, and that has helped me realize that it’s okay to need some extra help sometimes. I had already been working with a therapist who’s been super helpful and had found medication that seemed to work for me, but I have always had a really tough time asking my friends and family for help—even though that’s what they’re there for! It’s led to lots of fights. Lots of arguments. And lots of crying. Now though, slowly but surely, I’ve been becoming more open with them about how my moods and episodes and how they can help, especially when I may not be sure what it is exactly that I need.
Advice For Newly Diagnosed:
With that, I think some of the best advice I have for people who are newly diagnosed is to know that it’s okay to need help. Find yourself a solid support network. It can be friends, family, pets (my dogs have played a HUGE role in my recovery process), but it’s important to find those who can be there for you when it’s hard to be there for yourself. I know how hard it can be to be your own advocate, so finding people who can help you with that is so important. But more than that, I think my best advice is to love yourself for who you are. You are so, so, so much more than your diagnosis. It’s a part of you, sure, but you’re special. You’re valid. You’re loved. That period when you’re first diagnosed is—at least in my experience—one of the scariest moments. But it can also be one of the most validating moments. Finally, you have the words for your experience. For me, that helped me to find a community of people going through the same thing as me and that was very validating. No matter what part of this journey you’re on, I’m proud of you. You’re working so hard and I’m proud of you. We’re in this together. We’ve got this. Much love.