Rachael s Story
“Unspecified Bipolar disorder. Not anxiety. Not depression. Bipolar. It finally made sense to me. It clicked. All the uncontrollable mood swings weren’t just me being emotional or overreacting…
Bipolar is one of the most frustrating things I have ever had to deal with. The most challenging part of this disorder is feeling like you aren’t in control of your emotions. One second: I was happy. But, the next second: I could be trapped in my head contemplating hurting myself or suicide.
My disorder developed in high school when I began to feel the pressures of doing well in school, sports, and the need to be perfect. It was hard to accept my diagnosis because it feels like the stigma surrounding things like bipolar are much more prevalent than the stigma around disorders like anxiety and depression.
There would be days where I would be fine and one comment that someone made to me or one bad test grade would instantly change my mood. I felt like I had absolutely no control over how extreme my emotions were. And I couldn’t explain why I was feeling that way.
The highs weren’t nearly as frequent as the lows, and the lows were dark, scary, and hard to escape. I was diagnosed halfway through high school when suicidal thoughts and self-harm were part of my daily life.
One Tuesday morning during my junior year in high school, I was driving down Providence Road to school and, suddenly, it felt like someone flipped a switch. I was sad, depressed and suicidal and I didn’t know why.
I was only ten minutes away from school and I pulled over into the nearest neighborhood, put my car in park, and cried. I cried uncontrollably because I couldn’t regulate my thoughts- they controlled me. When I left my house I was fine, but then, at some point along Providence Road, my thoughts changed.
They swallowed me whole and I felt like I couldn’t do anything about it. I felt helpless. My emotions were in control of me and I wasn’t even able to explain or give a reason as to why I was feeling a certain way. That Tuesday morning, along with many other days, I couldn’t drive 20 minutes to high school without wanting to run my car off the road in attempt to kill myself. This was the lowest point in my life.
After finding a psychologist and psychiatrist who put me on medication, my mood began to stabilize. I was able to drive to school. I was able to cut up fruit with a knife without suicidal thoughts flooding into my head and taking over. Instead, they trickled in, but slow enough for me to still keep them under control.
Today I still will have those thoughts, but with medication and a few years of practice, they don’t take over and I can remain calm and work through them. If I had to give advice to someone silently suffering from a mental illness, I would say that more people care about you than you realize. When I began to open up and tell people about my problems, I realized how many people sincerely care and are willing to listen.”