It was the first Saturday night at my new place and I was anxious to get away from the cardboard boxes that filled my room. Luckily, I had been invited by an old friend to come join her and a couple of her friends in the city. I didnt know anyone in the area yet and knew that itd be a great opportunity to socialize with new faces, as well as catch up with the old.
I didnt have much time to get ready so I unpacked the essentials – makeup, curling iron, hairspray, and my favorite perfume. I sifted through my luggage to find an unwrinkled dress and dug through a box marked shoes to find matching heels. It wasnt long before I found myself impatiently waiting for the metro in a pink and black chiffon dress, while touching up my black eyeliner and pink rose lipstick.
After a quick 20 minute ride, I met up with my friend and we were off to an event. It was an art show that featured two artists, one being Michael Guild. My friend had met Michael through mutual friends and decided to introduce us. The group that collected around Michaels work laughed over cocktails and flashed cameras all while on a rooftop that overlooked beautiful city lights. It was a wonderful night and one that made me feel at ease with my decision to move to a new area. My worry of a declining social life quickly faded and I knew that even if I never hung out with any of these people again, that there would be many others just as engaging and welcoming.
The next day I woke up to a new friend request from Michael. I was surprised but pleased that someone I had met the night prior wanted to be Facebook friends. What I didnt know at the time was that by accepting his friend request, it would be an opening to a new chapter in my life. One that led to new friendships, an unexpected loving relationship, and a calendar that I still find overwhelmingly full of events.
As I began to meet more people through Michael, I was excited and eager to make new friends; but, I found myself being cautious as to what I would disclose. It was a time in my life where I had no signs or symptoms of my mental illness. I felt confident, healthy, and for the first time, I was independently stable. I did not want to discuss my past or scare people off by mentioning that I had Bipolar Disorder. I saw that I had an opportunity to only reveal half of myself to all of these new people.
I knew that in time I could possibly have an episode manic or depressive, and explaining myself would be too hard if or when that time came. Luckily, in the past ten months I have only had my usual and expected Fall depressive episode and was able to control it well enough to not have anyone notice my lack of presence.
In the past, my uncontrolled episodes had caused a lot of chaos. This illness has caused pain, instability, and the feeling of hopelessness, not only with myself but also to others. Because of this, I found myself ashamed of my illness and thought that if I kept it to myself, living in silence would be beneficial for everyone.
In the past ten months I have had the pleasure of getting to know intelligent, creative, and genuine people, all of whom I respect and find value in. As I got to know some of them better, I found myself comfortable sharing my thoughts and feelings, and realized that pieces of me were starting to unravel. Ive decided to reveal a new piece of me and feel comfortable telling all my new friends that I do have Bipolar Disorder 1.
To some it may not seem like a big deal but to those that have it, we can find it very difficult to disclose having an illness that affects our psyche. I do not blame anyone for the lack of knowledge regarding Bipolar Disorder, but I do blame society for putting a stigma on the people who suffer from it. Its far from easy to manage and the disorder itself must be worked on a daily basis. With medication, therapy, and healthy habits, I stay stable and live a normal life. But even if I follow doctors orders and remain healthy in my lifestyle, there may and will be a time where an episode arises and the feeling of defeat that comes with it.
I have found that over the years, people who know I have this illness feel comfortable telling me their struggles or asking for advice. They know I have no judgement towards them or anyone else that is going through a rough time since Im all too familiar with it. Being in a happy and healthy place in my life has allowed me to feel comfortable enough to write about Bipolar Disorder and share what I’ve learned with others. I hope to help those who suffer from this disorder to be able to reach stability, find comforting words in my upcoming blogs, and learn that there is no shame from having this mental illness.