health

"To my beautiful friends: this is what I want you to know about my bipolar disorder."

To all my beautiful friends,

I want you to know that I have a mental illness called Bipolar Disorder 1, which sometimes means that I have a chaotic mind and a chaotic world.

This doesn’t mean you have to treat me any differently or give me more sympathy. I just want to tell you how to spot the signs and the change in behaviour. These behaviours do not define me; they are part of the illness.

I’m still a person like anyone else. I just have a complex illness that’s often hard to cope with and predict.

"Dear friends: there are somet things I wish you knew." (Image: E1)

Although many people experience these emotions and moods in everyday life, the difference for those living with bipolar is the intensity, severity and extremeness they can present.

Bipolar disorder I, unfortunately, is the more severe disorder in terms of symptoms. This means I'm more likely to experience mania, have longer ‘highs’, be more likely to have psychotic experiences, and be hospitalised.

I don’t fit into people’s normal expectations, but I have come to accept that. Your acceptance of that is so important to me; I don’t want you to reject or judge me on my changing behaviours. Please understand this is not always me and when it happens, the storm will pass. Be patient with me, and the person you love and accept will shine again.  All I want is to be loved and not feel alone. Your voice or your touch is often all it takes to make me feel OK.

Listen: Mia Freeman explains how routine allows her to manager her mental illness. (Post continues after audio.)

I don’t like living with this illness and I don’t like being weathered and battered by its cyclic storms; it comes and it goes and it's exhausting. Like a real storm, my bipolar disorder is marked by significant disruptions to my normal life. Instead of strong winds, hail, thunder or lightning, I get irritable, erratic, irrational, seek constant reassurance and lose insight.

ADVERTISEMENT

The illness can consume my life and have a significant impact on my day-to-day existence. I would never intentionally upset you, but I might — please don’t take it personally. I can experience several moods in one day, going from extremely happy and energetic to angry and frustrated to deep despair where I feel worthless. Sometimes I feel suicidal.

When I feel sad, lonely, isolated, and hopeless, I want to run and hide. But I’m not running from you; I'm running from this illness. I just don’t know where to go when the one person you hate the most in this world is yourself.

Keeping in touch with friends when you have a mental illness can sometimes be challenging. Image via iStock.

Having a good support system like the one created by you, my friends, makes keeping my condition under control easier. I want to make a promise to you all that I will stay on my medications, keep going with therapy and stay off the alcohol. It’s not an easy illness, but the solution is management; I can prevent the mood swings through self-control, understanding myself and realising that there are other people involved, not just myself.

I am generally a fun, passionate, kind, loving, slightly out-there, exotic and loyal person. I have a big heart and can function, just like you. I have travelled, experienced life, studied.

And I can be there for you, like you are for me.

To buy a copy of Julia Busquet's book Friends, click on this link

Listen to this episode of The Well with Rebecca Sparrow and Robin Bailey. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues and needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Tags: friendship , health , mental-health
00:00 / ???