I have created a concept called “Bi-dentity”
This not only encompasses my Bisexuality, but it also encompasses my mental illness, Bipolar disorder, as well as the process of my becoming bilingual and my subsequent experiences actively speaking Spanish fluently.
I have wanted to open up about my Bipolar identity for some time now and life is short. I worry that being too transparent will carry career and relationship consequences, but I want to be that kind of person that is brave and strong enough to be naked before the world.
I do not need all of my secrets to be known but I want to help people, and one way of helping people is de-stigmatizing mental illness. I have an invisible one, well, one that is mostly invisible, but visible through actions.
I suffer from bipolar mood disorder, and yes, I take medication to function.
I can function without it, for awhile, but without medication, I usually have an eventual mental and emotional breakdown.
I am Black and mental health is often quite stigmatized in the Black community. I not only want to be an advocate for those who suffer from this condition but be honest about my own suffering and transparent about my own experiences with both mania and depression and anxiety.
People think that they can tell who is mentally ill, and some swear up and down that it is very hard to believe that I am because I am so “together” and “organized” in my teaching. I am able to focus on the things I am passionate about such as education and art. My mental illness does not rule my life, it is not a chaotic demon that I cannot control, but every day, some days more than others, is a struggle because of it.
Of course if I had a magic genie I could wish it away to, I absolutely would. There are talents I would trade to be bipolar free. To be honest, despite loving my artistic talent to which perhaps the bipolar disorder enhances, I would give that up to be “normal.”
The racing thoughts, the impulsive urges, the suicidal thoughts, the edgy angst, the insatiable gluttonous appetite has ruined things for me. I try to manage things, but it is not easy.
For those reasons, someone might not hire me or want to enter into a relationship with me because I would seem “unstable.” I do things that do not make sense to people, like shopping impulsively and buying multiple things, sometimes multiples of the same item.
This shopaholic addiction can also be a result of PTSD trauma from the fire that my family endured where we lost a lot of items that had emotional value. Soon after I tried to buy back everything I lost, and after I did, I bought it all over again, and again and again.
At some point, I finally recognized in therapy that I was doing this but trying to stop the cycle is really difficult. At some point I just gave up and I am showing early signs of becoming a pack rat. I have two grandparents, who did the same thing. I have a grandfather who was so much of a hoarder that he had to purchase another house, because his previous house is full of stuff.
My grandmother would constantly order items she didn’t need or use and refused to give them away when we tried to clean up. Several of my family members hoard. I hoard too.
When I try to let go of something, it creates heartbreak in me. I feel like I am letting go of memories and experiences. I am too attached to things, and I know that.
I have over 100 lipsticks, over 50 lotions, and perfumes, and soaps. I have several of everything. It is hard to store all of these things. Cosplay has become a convenient excuse to purchase outfit after outfit.
It hasn’t gotten to the point where I have gotten into debt, but I rarely save and almost always spend money as soon as I get it because I feel driven to do so immediately and I get an endorphin filled high, a full on adrenaline rush when I purchase something new, even if it’s a multiple of something i have. I usually get an item that I like and then buy the same thing in various colors.
Why am I admitting all of this personal mess online?
Because I know that there are other people out there who are suffering just like me. I want to help them and I want to at least try to help myself and at first I was just living stagnant in my mess, denying that I needed to make a change.
But in this moment, I want to at least try. I want to try to get rid of some of the clutter. I want to try to live a clean life. I want to try not to pretend to be perfect anymore. It’s exhausting. I want people to see that people with mental illness can achieve great things.
I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree and I pushed and I suffered and I broke down several times during college and graduate school, but I graduated, twice, three times including high school and I did it with my mental illness, without medication and without the awareness of what was actually wrong with me.
It was much scarier going through life and having no idea why I was feeling such extreme emotions, why I felt like I was constantly holding back a tsunami of livid rage, debilitating depression and manic hyper adrenaline.
Everyone around me seemed so dull and lifeless. I did not feel odd at first, I just saw the world as quite gray, and myself as a colorful individual.
I don’t always notice when I ramble, in fact, I rarely notice when I am having an episode. Someone has to point it out to me and when it is, I feel ashamed and embarrassed and I want to crawl back into my shell like an admonished turtle.
Anyway, I will continue to make more blogs about this and I am glad that I am finally at the point where I feel comfortable enough to begin displaying my mental illness within my artwork and that I feel comfortable enough to share it here now.
Sure, there may be some social consequences to opening up about something so vastly misunderstood and stigmatized but I am a proud achiever, who thrived in life despite it and I want those who have it to know, they do not have to succumb to this monster. It can be conquered and even though there are days I feel defeated by it, I will make a personal promise to myself to fight for control of my own mind and body.
I have a chemical imbalance in my brain, simply put, that pumps out too many chemicals, or too little, of certain kinds and that’s what creates the extreme manic and depressive mood swings.
Most days I just try to keep myself as busy as hell to tire myself out, to manage the mania. It’s one of the reasons I am able to do so many things at once. That is how my brain works. I can also become extremely focused if I am doing art, language or something that I am very passionate about like social justice advocacy.
I am doing much better these days with it, but college and graduate school were some of the worst days with it. Academically so much was expected of me and I was battling so many inner demons.
I feel super sensitive at times and I am easily hurt by people. I cry often. Yet people tell me how brave I am. I try my best to never cry in front of people if I can help it. i absolutely hate crying in front of people, but I do cry in the dark, I cry when no one is looking. I cry because having a storm in my head is painful and it’s storm that very few people understand.
I hope that in the future I am able to connect with a healthy network of people in a bipolar support group so that I can discuss issues in my life with people who understand it in a primary sense.
I hate being called and thought of as crazy. I dislike being thought to be incapable of functioning. I have proven several times over that I can go above and beyond.
One major problem I have is having the habit of starting many projects, but finishing none. There are so many works I have done that I so desperately want to copyright and publish but honestly, i need someone to coach me through, remind and nag and push me.
On my own it is very difficult to stay motivated to finish. I am trying to make it my goal to get my books of poetry copyrighted and published this year.
I have many goals and ambitions and I will not let anything stand in my way, even myself, quite literally, my own mind is my own worst enemy.
So to those who have bipolar disorder, I understand your pain, I feel your pain, I love you and I care about you and you can speak to me whenever you need someone to confide in.