A letter to those struggling with their Bipolar Disorder:

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In a lot of cases depression can be cured, and I mean cured, marked done, filed away for good. Depression isn’t always chronic, sometimes it’s short lived. That’s pretty magical, but bipolar disorder is nothing like that.

It’s a disorder, a disease of the mind, if you will. It can be treated, but it can’t be cured. It is everlasting.

I don’t find that as scary as I once did.

At first it’s a terrifying thought. I have to live with these swings forever. There will never be a time when I’m not taking medication. This is something that will affect my life till I die.

Oh yeah, it sounds terrible when you focus on those aspects. It sounds a lot less frightening however when you talk about the different stages of living with a mental illness like bipolar disorder.

You start to realize that you will get better even if you are not cured. You’ll find your perfect cocktail of medications that keep you balanced and you’ll only have to go to the doctor every year or so. The upcoming days won’t be met with vicious swings, but little ones that warn you that you need to change something. You’ll learn what helps you outside of medication and you won’t rely on it as heavily as you did. You’ll move on with your life and bipolar will become a side note when you define yourself, because the characteristics will no longer define you.

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Removing the mental health stigma without ‘normalizing’ it:

I’ve thought two very contradicting thoughts lately. One being that mental illness is still stigmatized and people are still afraid to talk about it and the other being that we’re making mental illness too normal.

I think both are true.

Let me phrase this a different way, my bipolar, your anxiety disorder, or your best friends depression aren’t uncommon and they are definitely not something to be ashamed of. We need to be open when it comes to our illnesses and our health, so that we can get better and we won’t end up another suicide or addiction statistic. It is insanely important that we feel comfortable seeking help and speaking up about these things. Stigma still stands in many people’s way of achieving this.

To counter that stigma people have tried to talk more and more about mental health, but I feel like somewhere along the way we’ve run into something we weren’t planning on, and that’s people thinking their mental illness is normal, and therefore, unimportant, something they just have to make peace with.

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The most helpful thing you can do for a loved one with bipolar:

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I was talking to a friend the other day about how lucky I was that my boyfriend is just as good as my parents at doing the one thing most important to my mental health: Keeping me in check.

There are lists upon lists out there about things you can do for a loved one suffering from Bipolar disorder. Most of them are really good tips, but the most important one for me normally doesn’t show up on those lists, because it’s not always pleasant, and newly diagnosed people sometimes don’t react to it well and therefore it doesn’t always seem productive.

You see, I’m aware of my big mood swings when they happen. It’s hard not to notice when you nose dive or are suddenly ten times more active than you normally are. It’s those small ones that get me, the ones that I think are triggered by daily events because I can’t see it as clearly as someone watching from the outside. I don’t always consider all the facts, because the change felt natural from the inside, and after all, I still got everything done that I needed to do.

Those smaller mood swings are important though, if your swinging that much it needs to be addressed and your medications need to be adjusted. They might not feel like a big deal on the inside, but they can be long term, and they can also be a big deal for those around you. And those around you are normally the ones who notice them first.

I used the words “keeping me in check” at the top of this post, but that sounds harsher than it really is. It’s a gentle nudge, a firm yet kind acknowledgement by your loved ones that something is off.

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Untreated Metal Illness, The Silent Killer.

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The news of Kate Spade’s suicide has rocked the internet this week. It rocked me too, because like others, I associated her with the happy, quirky, and glittery line that shares her name. It struck a lot of people because she had the fame, the fortune, the family and could still bare such sadness that she wanted to end her life.

I don’t want to write a think piece on a families tragedy, so I won’t, but I did want to talk about a topic that this tragedy brought to my mind, and that’s untreated mental illness.

There is a strong stigma around mental health treatment. Some of it has to do with the fact that there is still a stigma around mental health, but some of it has to do with the person who should be seeking it.

I often hear the pitch about how we don’t think negatively about blood pressure medication so we shouldn’t about anti-depressants, and I agree with it 100%, but what I keep hearing from individuals is “I think anti-depressants are great, I just don’t need them. I’m just a little sad.”

We downplay our own problems and dismiss them, because they’re inconvenient to face. It’s scary to say we’re not okay, to have to step back from things so we can take care of ourselves. So, we push through and things get worse and worse, then suddenly, there is no return.

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Is depression just a mindset or is it just a chemical imbalance?

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This titles a tease, because it’s both. But the internet has been arguing about it lately, so I thought I would roll up my sleeves and dive one in.

This argument has been around for a few years now, it’s been talked about enough that I felt the need to put a disclaimer on my “How to Embrace a Happy Life” post that talked about how beating depression isn’t as simple as choosing to be happy, even though there really shouldn’t have been a way to get that from the post.

People who fight depression have gotten sick of hearing those kind of lines, which is completely understandable. What isn’t understandable is the argument that depression is only a chemical imbalance that doesn’t have much to do with mindset.

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Why it’s okay for people to call mental disorders gifts:

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There was a post going around Tumblr and Facebook recently about Vincent Van Gogh and his mental illness. The post was saying that we shouldn’t say that his artistic mind was a gift from his mental illness. It’s argument was that nothing from a disabling illness (that lead to his death) was a gift, and that he would have completely thrown away his art if he could have a cure for his illness.

Van Gogh is one of my favorites, not only because he is a great artist, but because he was bipolar, just like I am. I wrote a huge research project on him while I was in college, and I got invested in who he was as a person. And I have a problem with posts like these.

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An Open Letter to those Struggling with Depression and Suicidal Thoughts:

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I wanted to start this letter with “you are loved” and “it will get better” but those are messages you read all the time and right now it doesn’t matter how many times you read them you will not believe them, it’s not just hard for you to, it’s almost impossible for you too. That is what illness does to your brain. It makes it impossible to see the good.

I’ve been really depressed twice in my life, both for different reasons. The first time was in middle school, after three years of social torture and a ton of bullying I was so depressed my parents pulled me out of the 8th grade because I was suicidal. Then again, when I was 16, because my medication for my bipolar disorder was bringing some serious health issues along with it. I was removed from the medication and fell into depression because of my disorder. So, one was triggered by events and one was triggered purely by my brain. One kind is not better than the other.

Instead of telling you about your situation I’m going to tell you about mine. I would have missed proms, weddings, graduations. I would have missed reuniting with one of my past best friends. I would have missed saving three different lives from taking themselves. I would have missed two different years that at the time I proudly proclaimed “I’ve never been happier in my life.”

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