It felt as though a trap door had opened under me and I was free falling. “What you experienced was a manic episode” the doctor said. “You have type 1 bipolar disorder”. My world was rocked. Bipolar disorder? What did that mean? What did that entail? I didn’t know and I was afraid to find out. I come from a home that doesn’t address mental illness and I never had any context for it growing up. The events that had led up to this diagnosis was still fresh in my head. I didn’t know I was manic while I was manic. I felt an elation higher than any positive feeling I had ever felt before. Things were moving so fast. No one knew what was going on. I was manic and shouting, so the police were called on me.
It was very scary to have to deal with cops and to have to advocate for myself while I was still manic. Especially being a woman of colour. I was extremely anxious, and the police made me quite fearful. One officer heard me out and listened to my story. After I was humanized by the police for my story, they acted nicer. But I wish I didn’t have to humanize myself. I wish they automatically saw me as a person, and not a threat. It was very nice to feel heard, seen, and understood. I was in police custody for a few hours until they released me. I went home and I was still manic.
My chosen family that I live with did the right thing and called the nonemergency line. Two officers were dispatched to escort me to the hospital. No one left my side and I was very supported. Luckily for me I was surrounded by love from the people around me. The whole ordeal was quite scary, but I had friends and family that lifted me up. The hard part was over and after years of not knowing what was wrong with me, I was finally getting the help I so desperately needed.
I was quite depressed after I got out of the hospital. I had been there for a week and that’s when I got my diagnosis. I was in a rut and I didn’t know how to get out of it. I wanted to feel good again. So, I left my comfort zone and joined group therapy. I also sought out one on one therapy. Both of these things helped me a lot. I was finally having conversations about what it meant to be mentally ill and finally understanding my diagnosis. I was also on medication for my mental illness which was extremely helpful. Anther thing that was very helpful throughout these trying times has been my chosen family. They lift me up and love me unconditionally. When I doubt myself and see myself going down negative thought processes my chosen family are always there to support me and remind me how amazing I am. It was all very scary, especially when I had to advocate for myself with the police, but I know in my heart that I am slowly going to get my feet on the ground. I slowly am and will continue to feel stable.
I have hope even in the eyes of adversity. Things were hard but I wasn’t scared anymore. With the combination of medication, therapy, and unwavering love and support I slowly felt like I was coming back to my body. My mental illness is a part of me. And I need to love every part of me. Being a black woman with mental illness is a very nuanced and intricate issue. I needed to find self love and self acceptance. It’s a journey I was very willing to go through and I reaped the benefits of welcoming every facet of myself. Even the scary looking parts. The scary parts are the parts of me that need love the most. I am slowly getting better and I am very excited for my future. With hard work and hope, things are going to be okay.