If you had asked me a few months ago, or even a month ago, if I would ever start a blog, the answer would’ve been a hard “no.” In 2011 (at the age of 17) I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, bipolar isn’t the only mental illness that I have – I also have a plethora of anxiety disorders, and an (undiagnosed) eating disorder. The ED is undiagnosed because I’m not ready to share my “best kept secret” with my psychiatrist yet. I know that it’s not healthy, but hey, I’m a work in progress.
Since 2011, I have kept multiple journals detailing my life, thoughts, opinions, rants, and my experiences living with mental illness. Nobody has ever read these journals. My journals have been the only place where I can speak my mind freely without feeling judged or crazy. Once I began journaling, I could never imagine a time when I’d stop writing. Journaling has provided me with an outlet to create memories to look back on, has shown me struggles I’ve overcome, has helped me figure out the messy thoughts in my head, and most importantly, has shown me how much I’ve grown as a person over the years.
At the beginning of last year something changed and I slowly stopped journaling. At this time in my life, I had never felt more alone. I kept sinking lower and lower into my depression, and writing wasn’t providing me with a sense of relief anymore. In the 4 years since my initial diagnosis, I hadn’t told anyone about it (including my parents & other close family). I wasn’t open to having a conversation about my mental health issues. I didn’t know anyone who could relate to my struggles. I was so embarrassed by my mental illnesses that I wished the world would just swallow me up so I didn’t have to be here anymore. I felt like a failure as a human being, and I felt those feelings alone.
Fast forward to October 2015 – In the midst of my everlasting depression, I had an idea. What would happen if I made an anonymous twitter account where I could begin to talk openly and honestly about my mental illnesses? So, that’s how my twitter account @hellobipolar started – by taking a chance on an idea and trying something new. I didn’t know whether anyone would care about what I think or feel, but it turns out that some people do.
2016 has seen significant changes in the way I think, feel, and talk about my mental illnesses. Creating my anonymous twitter account @hellobipolar has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I didn’t expect it to have such a profoundly positive impact on my life, but I’m so grateful that it has! I have found a community where I don’t feel like an outsider. I have connected with so many amazing and supportive people. But most importantly, I have learned that there are people out there who can relate to my experiences, and that I’m not alone trying to navigate these invisible illnesses. Inspired by my interactions with people on twitter, I began attending a local bipolar peer support group. That group mirrored what I felt from my experiences on twitter, although the tangible, face-to-face interactions added an extra level of comfort. On World Bipolar Day, I opened up about my mental illnesses to everyone I know – which was terrifying!! I still can’t believe how far I’ve come on my mental health journey in such a short amount of time.
To this day, I still look at my journal sitting on my dresser and I just can’t seem to pick it up and start writing. But at least now I have other outlets to help me feel the relief that journaling once gave me. So here I am, right now, creating a different kind of journal that’s no longer just for my eyes only. Even though I find the idea of me blogging scary, I choose to believe that something good will come of it. I don’t know if anyone will ever read this, but if someone does, thank you – I hope you like whatever it ends up being. It’s truly amazing to see what can happen when you try something new.
If you’re wondering:
Journals are by ecojot 🙂