About a month and a half ago, in a frenzied manic state, I wrote an article called “almost killed myself, fake on Instagram + other things I shouldn’t talk about”. I didn’t edit, re-read, or think twice when I posted it. Overnight, that became my most read post on this blog. At first, that was frightening. It went from no one knowing to nearly everyone in my life having read that article. My phone blew up like crazy that night, and in all honesty, it was the first time I regretted posting something on my blog. People in my classes and clubs approached me. It was brought up in groups at bigger events, leaving me feeling super awkward. I wanted to disappear. If you know me at all, you know that I’m not someone who talks a lot about their own problems, despite what this blog may make it seem like.
But as time went on, the stares and awkward confrontations became less and less prominent. What lasted from that post was the amazing connections I made from it. It led me to rekindling friendships, getting closer to people I knew but didn’t know, I got dozens of messages and dm’s from other people with mental illness that they didn’t talk about publicly, but they wanted to tell me I’m not alone. A very kind, amazing girl who was practically a stranger talked to me for an hour about her experiences being the child of someone with bipolar disorder, and let me call her mom who allowed me to see my mind in a positive light for the first time. But most importantly, I had people that I know and love tell me that I helped them understand what I’m going through a little bit more.
And there it was.
I realized these connections and the opportunity to educate those I love made everything worth it.
I feel like as a society, everyone is so disgustingly silent about mental illness. Especially the desi community, we’d rather push everything under the rug than try to resolve these real problems. Since being diagnosed, I’ve searched endlessly for other people with bipolar type 1. I’ve been reading books, watching youtube videos, films, anything to allow me to feel like I’m not alone.
I want to be vocal about my experiences so I can be that for someone else. I want to be open about my struggles and how hard it is because I want to push the message that it is okay to not be okay. You will be, if you aren’t now. It’s a matter of acknowledging the issue so you can figure out a solution.
But being open comes with a lot of stigma. At least for me, the response is sometimes just awful, especially from the desi community.
The amount of times I’ve been told to “just be happy, watch happy things, don’t stress yourself out”. I want us to think really hard about this, if I had the option to be happy or to not, that simply, why on earth would I ever choose the latter? I am trying to be happy, that’s why I’m going or regular doctor’s appointments, seeing a therapist and making lifestyle changes.
Or the number of times I’ve been told that I’m giving into the diagnosis too much? What does that mean? My symptoms have not just randomly appeared. I once went two weeks without sleep senior year of high school in a manic fit, binge working. I was once so depressed, I put on 10 pounds and lost nearly all my friends as a 16-year old. I spent part of freshman year of college being so depressed that I’d go to my dorm and be in bed by seven while another part so manic I couldn’t focus on any of my work and pulled a million all-nighters. I’d been going through these cycles and just didn’t realize it, I am now lucky enough to have a diagnosis so I could start a journey to get better.
My favorite thing that’s been said to me however and probably the worst, someone sat me down, looked me in the eye and said “you don’t have bipolar”. How ridiculous to tell someone else what they do or don’t have. I also have an autoimmune disorder called celiac and I can safely say, no one has ever told me I don’t. I honestly owe my life to this diagnosis from a licensed physician because here now, I don’t know how long I could’ve gone on, had I not gotten professional help. I would love to not have bipolar, seriously. But I do, and it’s hard enough to live with it without having to convince others that I am, indeed, suffering.
But something I’ve feel that has hit close to home is people telling me that meds aren’t the answer, or implying I’m weak for taking them. What’s funny is that I didn’t really believe in psych meds before my diagnosis, I felt like there were other answers. I told my psychiatrist that I wanted to wean myself off of them a month into treatment. I honestly felt like they were a temporary crutch instead of a solution.
She told me to read accounts from people that actually had the disorder, and so I did. Memoirs, articles, documentaries, the whole shebang. These people weren’t talking at me, pushing propaganda one way or the other without experiencing what I was going through, these people TRULY got it. I saw the same pattern in every story. Meds changed people’s lives (they were given in conjunction with lifestyle changes and psychotherapy). I was adamant about not wanting to take meds my whole life but upon reading real-life stories, it seemed there was no better answer. The truth is, I can’t will myself to not have bipolar, no matter how hard I try. If you ever want to take a glance into my life, I’m no weak bitch, but this isn’t a matter of being strong. It’s a problem with mood regulation in my brain. If meds fix the problem, wouldn’t I be crazy to not take them? Or should I say crazier haha?
The reason people make these comments to me is simply because they don’t understand. Instead of looking at them in a negative light, I want to showcase my perspective. And I want people to get talking about all that is going on. There are SO many people with undiagnosed mental health problems, and SO many people afraid to talk about what’s going on with them. I want to be open and inviting so if anyone wants to talk about it, they can. I want someone who is desi to start conversation in the community and if no one else is taking action, it may as well be me.
So I talk frequently about mental health and I will continue to do so. I’ll be loud and open and as candid as possible. My book is coming out on November 30th, it covers topics such as love, identity, and mental health. Check it out if you get the chance!
A few people have asked how I’m doing now. Well, it has only been two months since my diagnosis and I’m currently going through medication management so I’ve had to take a lot of personal time these past few weeks. I’m back to posting pictures of me laughing and carefully posing but that’s the best part of social media, I get to put my best foot forward. The truth is that I’ve had some good days and some bad days. I’ve felt a bit like a guinea pig as my medication goes to get adjusted every two weeks. I’ve had weeks where I’ve acted so impulsively and unlike myself, I tarnished relationships with people I love. I’ve had weeks where I was rapid cycling so quickly I couldn’t predict how my mood would be in an hour. I’ve had times where I kind of pounded my fists and questioned why I had to be cursed with this brain. I found myself in a hospital yet again last weekend because of an overdose. My life has been pretty wild as I try to heal and find the correct treatment. But in the long run, I’m taking the right steps and I’ll be okay.