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HOPE
HEADLINE: Sometimes things are really tough. Sometimes, it seems impossible to say ‘I need help'. Sometimes others don't seem to notice when we feel bad. Sometimes, life just seems hopeless.
GIRL: About six months ago I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It was shocking, scary, and I thought I'd got myself stuck somehow in one of those nightmares that just won't go away. Bipolar disorder used to be called manic depression. It's where you have mood swings between mania and depression. Sometimes these episodes can last a few months, sometimes weeks, and sometimes only days. It's exhausting feeling so high and then feeling so low. Being manic is like taking a drug. You have endless energy to walk really fast. Or you think you have superpowers and make really impulsive or dangerous decisions. Being depressed is more than just being sad. It's a feeling of hopelessness, feeling disinterested in everything and everyone. And sometimes having thoughts about harming yourself or suicide.
What makes it worse is that you can never tell when you might switch from being high to being low. Sometimes it takes a few weeks to realize you're not feeling so great. For me, it was overnight. Seeing a psychologist for the first time was a totally weird experience. I had no idea what to expect. I felt very wary of this stranger who I was telling such personal things. Seeing a psychiatrist was even weirder. I never thought that I'd have to see one myself. I thought they were for crazy people. Was I crazy? It was just so confusing.
I started taking medication and that was another unknown. I feel like I was doing something bad. I felt sick, and had headaches as my body got used to the medication. I had to say that some days have been bad. Some days I can't get out of bed, can't stop crying and can't remember what's good about life. But for every bad day, I can remember something positive that's happened too. I've been making lists and writing about all the positives in my life. It's a really great reminder of all the things that make me happy. Doing some artwork. Going for a walk. Chatting to a friend or reading a book. Or getting a hug from my mom. All of those things keep me going. My friends support me so much and help me to feel excited about life like I used to be.
The last few months have truly been a journey. Sometimes things just don't turn out how you expected. But each day the sun rises again. Children are born. Friendships are created. Laughter is shared. Stories are told. And sometimes things are really challenging. Sometimes I feel very lost. But always there is hope.