for better mental health

A letter to Bipolar

Thursday, 15 October 2020 Gabi

Gabi writes to the mental health condition that almost broke her and has made her the strong person she is today.

Hey Bipolar,

I know what you’re thinking: it’s been a while since you last heard from me. I’ve been avoiding you because the last time we saw one another you really left my life in pieces - more so than the time before that.

And yet here I am, writing this letter to you because I can’t seem to shake you.

I don’t know if you’ve heard but I’m actually doing pretty good right now, all things considered. I mean, my life isn’t how I dreamed it would be — you stole that from me; but I did dream up my life as an innocent young girl, unaware of your existence.

Sometimes I think about those dreams I had. I imagined that, by now, I’d be finishing up my university degree with a solid plan for my next steps. I’d look in the mirror and smile at my reflection. I’d be hopelessly in love with someone and have saved up some money to travel.

You drove those I loved away and drained my bank account with your reckless, manic spontaneity

You know as well as I do how that went. You dropped a present on my doorstep a few years ago – a heavy box labeled ‘depression’, and in exchange stole two years of my life. With it, you also ripped up the university application forms. You drove those I loved away and drained my bank account with your reckless, manic spontaneity - and my reflection in the mirror? She looked back at me with dull, empty eyes and wept.

Bipolar, I was so angry. I was resentful and bitter and couldn’t bring myself to speak your name

Bipolar, I have to admit: I was so angry. I was resentful and bitter and couldn’t bring myself to speak your name. I mean, you have to understand why. You took my dreams and shattered them. You fed me full of energy and joy, but constantly dangled emptiness and agony over my head. Like a shadow, you clung to me.

And honestly? Sometimes I still am resentful. Sometimes when I see my medicine container, full of the pills that are supposed to help me get rid of you but come with their own baggage, or the scars from that time I was consumed by your torment, I want to scream. I had screamed, but nothing came out.

At some point, though, my life began to redefine itself. Maybe it was the therapy or the medication - or a combination of both. Maybe my perspective changed, but I would see all those things and no longer react.

Let me tell you – that freaked me out initially. I immediately thought: ‘it’s just another one of your tricks’, disguising the next gift you’re planning to leave on my doorstep.

But somewhere along the line I realised that you had left another gift on my doorstep: a light, delicately wrapped package.

Inside of it? Acceptance.

Before you stormed into my life, I always knew someone like you existed. I’d seen you lurking in the shadows, or hiding behind trees. That one family member I told you about? They have been running from someone like you for decades.

Despite all of this, Bipolar, I was in denial. I hid from the truth until you forced me to look at it. I knew the surges of blissful ecstasy was not another ‘teenage phase’, nor the drafted suicide notes in my left drawer my ‘overactive imagination’.

But when that woman (you know, the psychiatrist with the brown hair and unkind gaze?) said your name and her eyes - for a moment - softened, I knew I could no longer escape you.

Bipolar, I’m sorry I haven’t written to you in so long. I’m sorry I’ve avoided your calls and burned our photos together. You really hurt me and I tried to run from that pain, but you’ve always been faster than me.

Although you nearly broke me, you gave me lessons in resilience and strength, and pressured me into asking for help

Although you nearly broke me, you have taught me some valuable things. You gave me lessons in resilience and strength, and pressured me into asking for help. You showed me the power of vulnerability and the importance of self-love. You gave me a chance to rewrite the future I dreamed for myself, and to make it even more beautiful than I had envisioned before.

Bipolar, you pushed me to recreate myself — I mean, you didn’t give me much choice and I’m still sort of mad at you for that, but your appearance meant I was forced to reevaluate everything I thought I knew about myself and evolve into who I am today... and who I’ll become tomorrow.

I want you to know, Bipolar, that I forgive you… for everything.

So, I hope you’re not too upset with me for avoiding you. I hope you understand why I had to do that. Maybe one day, when I’m walking outside in the park or catching the train to university and I see you lurking in the shadows, I won’t run. I hope I look you in the eyes, greet you and prove to you just how strong I have become.

Until then, Bipolar.

Love,

Gabi

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