A Letter To 19-Year-Old Me Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder

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Dear Me,

I know youve been through a lot in the short amount of time youve been on this earth. Youve endured more than many adults experience in a lifetime. I know youre keeping secrets, and I know youre scared and confused. Its OK for you to feel that way. Its OK to have a bad day or many bad days; youre allowed. Please know I am not trying to scare you when I say youre going to have a lot of bad days.

Unfortunately, what theyve just diagnosed you with isnt going to go away, and its not just some phase youre going through. You have an illness, kind of like the way diabetes is an illness. Its just that yours is an illness of the mind and is often highly unpredictable. Now you know you have bipolar disorder. I guess that explains a lot.

You will be forced to deal with this for the rest of your life, and I need you to be prepared for that and try not to panic. It can be managed; you just have a lot of work to do. The first thing Im going to tell you is to stop locking yourself in your room listening to the same painful songs over and over again. Its not going to get you anywhere.

Dont isolate yourself from the outside world so much that when you finally venture out, youll date any guy who looks at you twice. Try to stay away from dating until your illness is more under control. Remember that when a man does break your heart, its going to feel like your whole life has collapsed. We feel things deeper; it comes with the territory.

Sometimes all you can do is sleep, and sometimes you wont sleep for days. Give yourself some time to adjust to your diagnosis. We all handle it differently. Dont ever criticize yourself for taking care of the most important person here you.

You may see doctor after doctor and try what will seem like 1,000 medications, but in between all of the bullshit, there will be good times. Your life is not over; its just beginning.

I just need you to be ready for what youre about to do. Youre going to attempt to win the battle inside your brain every single day. Watch your step. There are pitfalls along the path for people like us. Just be honest with people. Tell them the truth from the start. That way you wont have grown close to them if they exit stage left.

There will be people who walk out of your life or treat you like trash because you have an illness.

The worst part about being diagnosed with a mental illness is the ignorance youll face daily. There will be people who walk out of your life or treat you like trash because you have an illness one you didnt ask for or contract. Its just how youre wired. Some people may never understand or even believe no matter how hard you try to explain it to them

Dont let their ignorance tear you down, and dont let them get to you. You have enough work to do just fighting the negative voices in your head. You will struggle, there is no question about that. Sometimes it will feel like all you ever do is get hurt. That is when it is easiest to give up, but you cant do that. Not now. Not ever.

Please, whatever you do, dont try to hurt yourself in any way. You may feel alone at times, but you are never truly alone in this fight. If family members cant help, try friends or anyone you trust. Purposely being alone just to sit there and cry about how lonely you are is counterproductive. When you feel up to it, make a list of things you enjoy doing so when you stumble into that abyss, youve left yourself a breadcrumb path to find your way back out.

Always remember youre only having a bad day. You do not have a bad life. Despite your struggles, there will be moments where you shine! And youll learn to appreciate those moments even more because you have fought hard to get there.

Always remember youre only having a bad day. You do not have a bad life.

You can do this. Ive witnessed it first-hand. There will be times when you want to give up. Unfortunately, at times the pain will seem unbearable, and it will get to you no matter how strong you think you are. Always remember, there will be a light around the corner. You just have to follow the path to get to it.

I am so proud of you. You admitted you have an illness that many people are still embarrassed by. You are going to go on and do great things! Youre going to figure out a way to turn the tables on your disability and use it to help people. I know patience isnt your strong suit, but it wont be long. Youre so young, just be 19-year-old first. Youre going need a little time to figure yourself out.

Youve got quite an uphill battle in front of you. You wont have all the answers, but in time you will learn what works for you and what doesnt. Dont compare your illness to someone else. Your journey will be completely different. When youre more self-aware, your bad days will only amplify the good. You can do this. It will be a struggle, but if you werent a fighter, you wouldnt be here now. Ill be here waiting. Youve got this.

Sincerely,

You

This article was originally posted on The Mighty site

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.

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