real life

"10 things I wish you understood about my bipolar disorder."

Dear Unnamed,

It’s been a year since I have been diagnosed. The past year through my struggling, my recovery and my new found strength, you have struggled to understand me and what I am going through. This is me trying. This is me telling you what I wish you understood about my mental illness.

Pensive/dreaming woman on the beach
This is me telling you what I wish you understood about my Mental Illness. Image via iStock

1. I wish you understood that Bipolar Disorder is not something I have made up to excuse my bad decisions.

Bipolar Disorder is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as “a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.”

2. I wish you understood that being manic is not fun for me either.

I am a young adult who takes pride in being able to get good grades, run a business and pay my bills. There is nothing more frustrating than coming out of a manic episode to find that my credit card has several hundred charges to it. Or finding that I missed some major deadlines for school.


3. I want you to know that no matter how far I fall, I will get to a place where I will begin to climb back out.

I am determined to live a successful life. I won’t give up, so please, don’t give up on me.

4. I wish you understood that when I say I cannot remember something, it’s not me being neglectful or choosing not to remember.

Sometimes things are harder to remember. I don’t know why, but believe me, it is not by choice.

5. I wish you knew that when I cry I am not looking for attention.

I’m not even looking for sympathy. I cry because I am tired of fighting with myself. I cry to release the stress, anger and frustration I carry within. I cry because I know when I am done, I will get back up and keep pushing through.

6. I wish you knew that when I snap, yell, or treat you poorly, I am sincerely sorry.

It is not on purpose and it isn’t a choice. I wish I could control my outbursts but when I am in a bad place I loose control of those things. Know that I will come back to you to apologise every single time.

“Please understand that my disorder makes dealing with stress much more difficult.”

7. I wish you understood that there are days when the stress of life is just too much.

This doesn’t make me weak. Please understand that my disorder makes dealing with stress much more difficult. I might need help with things that you feel are simple. Finances will always stress me out. I know the numbers make perfect sense to you, but they are a trigger for my anxiety.

8. I wish you would know that I am trying.

You might not see it on the days that it’s four in the afternoon and I am still in my pajamas, but if I am out of bed and being semi-productive I have won a huge inward battle.

9. I wish you knew that despite my disorder and struggles, I am constantly trying to be the girl you once knew.

I wish you knew that I look for your approval and I am trying to do exactly what you want me to do.

10. Lastly, I hope you understand that even if you don’t understand my disorder, what I am going through or why I am the way I am, I will always love you.

You have been there for me since the day I was born and I cannot imagine how my life would be without you.


Nichole is a Social Media Marketing Manager, student, daughter and friend. She’s working on her Marketing Diploma and has a Certificate of Christian Theology.

This post first appeared on Defyingshadows and has been republished with full permission.