#DearTeenageMe, Don’t Be Ashamed

Learn more about #DearTeenageMe at http://sayitforwardcampaign.org/ 

Dear scared Ros,

I know you tried it again last night, like you try every week. You spend hours crying and pouring your emotions into your little black book hoping that someone will finally hear your cry for help. Your words seem to echo in the hollows of your soul. But, believe me when I tell you that you are not alone.

You smile constantly and try to stay out of trouble, thus no one can ever tell that you always feel alone and empty. Many think that you are the perfect child and are unaware that something inside you has changed. You have stopped playing with your friends and prefer to hide in the house at all times. Only mother has noticed that her bubbly little girl has lost her spark, blaming this change on the stress of school.

But you know it is not stress, it is something you can’t put into words. The family thinks you are moody because one day you are happy, and the next day you are extremely sad. But you know that it is something more. It is as though you have no control over your emotions. No matter how much you wish for contentment, on most days you find yourself down. What you don’t realize is that these times of unhappiness are not just you being sad; this is you experiencing depression.

Bipolar disorder! Do you know what that is? It is a mood disorder that causes shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. What you don’t know is that you have bipolar disorder. The symptoms were all there, but you could never put a name on them. There are days when you feel so tired, that leaving the house seems like a huge challenge. There are also days when you just want to go out and have fun, but you find yourself alone because everyone is used to the “quiet” Ros.

I know about the suicidal thoughts and the wishes to run away. You may feel afraid and frustrated, but know that you are not alone. Mental illnesses are more common than you think; many are just simply too afraid to talk about what they are experiencing. Be open to talk to people about your feelings because this is an effective way of working through your emotions. There is nothing to be ashamed of; you are neither broken nor unusual.

You are brave and beautiful. That fear that you feel should not deter you from achieving what you truly want.Remember: You have bipolar, you are not bipolar! Do not let it define you, for you are not your mental illness. Yes at times it will be difficult, but use those times to make you stronger. Learn from your times of depression and mania. Use your story to change the lives of others and grow in ways you never thought were possible.

To read more from Ros, see the rest of her posts for IBPF here, visit her website, or read her contributions to The Mighty.

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