I remember taking an anatomy and physiology exam when I was a Sophomore in college.
I had taken a year off from nursing to get my political science minor so I entered nursing school with a group of 45 strangers, none of which particularly wanted to spend any time with me. Surprisingly, the day before, I actually got an invitation to study with some girls from class.
Looking back, I should have said no.
I was sipping on weak coffee with way too much sugar when I heard a girl’s voice dig a hole a self loathing for me that I would spend years trying to climb my way out of.
“I had a hard time remembering what a bipolar neuron was,” I heard her say. “Since the bipolar neuron is responsible for photoreceptors in the eye, I just think of someone who is bipolar, and how I never want to see them, because they’re usually an absolute mess.”
All of the girls laughed and I almost dropped my coffee cup…or smashed it over her head. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe, and I wanted to be anywhere but that poorly lit cafeteria with a girl who didn’t seem to care about one of our country’s most marginalized and generalized people. Despite my better judgment, I slammed my cup on the table, gathered my things, and bailed. I left, ran into a bathroom, and cried my eyes out.
- When were you diagnosed? Just before I turned 19 years old.
- How many people are bipolar? About 3% of the American population.
- Did you have any idea that you were bipolar? No. I just thought I was moody.
- Isn’t it just an excuse to treat people badly? No.
- It must be nice to have meds you can take to calm you down. The rest of us have to stress. Not how it works at all, but whatever.
- Has bipolar been the reason for any break ups? Yes. It happens.
- What does bipolar II mean? It means that I’m more depressed than I am manic. I do have episodes of mania, but not as severe as those with type I.
- What has the disease taught you so far? People leave when things get hard.
- You look tired. Yeah. I am most of the time.
- Are you scared that if you have kids, they’ll be bipolar? Yeah. It terrifies me.
- A lot of patients are addicts. Have you ever been? Yes.
- How does it feel to be a manic pixie dream girl? I wouldn’t know. I will not be fodder for some sad young writer’s work. Don’t reduce me to a stereotype.
- Do you feel alone? All the time. You go through a type of emotional turmoil that’s hard to communicate and hard to find in others.
- Are you sure you’re not doing this for attention? 100% positive.
- You lost weight! Thanks! Lamictal makes me not want to eat!
- I wish you’d stop talking about it so much. I wish you’d stop talking about The Bachelor, but I don’t want to be rude about it.
- What’s gotten worse over the years? My sensitivity. My self esteem. My jealousy.
- What’s gotten better over the years? My understanding of emotion. My empathy. My sense of justice.
- What’s your biggest regret? Not getting ride of my non supportive friends sooner.
- You don’t seem sick. It’s mostly because I hide it exceptionally well. It tends to make people uncomfortable.
- What does it feel like to swing? It feels like the world has gone suddenly dark, and that everything good has disappeared.
- It’s not that big of a deal. I almost died from overdosing on pills because of it, so I’d say it’s a big deal.
- Do you have any funny mania stories? Always.