And the winner of the Dear Sarah competition is….
This letter written by Angel Fractured…
Thanks for your e-mail!
Your situation sounds tough. It’s good that you’re investigating the diagnosis and receiving the diagnosis now. That way, you’re sure to be well-informed about the condition. Ever since I was in middle school, I’ve known that I have an issue, but I never sought out a professional until I was 22. I could’ve prevented a lot of grief for myself if I’d tried to get help sooner, and I learned that lesson the hard way.
I know that when you’re young its hard to seek help, though. Part of the reason that I’d waited so long was that I was afraid of what my family would think. I didn’t feel like they would take me seriously. In fact, when I had ever brought up my concerns, they’d always scoffed and told me I would get over it or that I was being too melodramatic. Even now, my conditioning sometimes makes me wonder if that’s the case. But it certainly isn’t, and that is true for you also.
However, once I started seeing psychiatrists and therapists, my parents found out about it because I had a meltdown. I learned then that even though my parents might not fully understand my issues or even completely believe in them, they still care. They know that I need help, and they’d prefer I get that help instead of living a miserable life.
Therefore, I believe that you should discuss your diagnosis with your aunt. You don’t have to tell her everything, just enough so that she understands you have valid issues and need help. Even if she doesn’t understand your illness, she’ll probably want you to get the treatment you deserve. I don’t know much about your aunt, so I could be way off base here. But if your reluctance to mention the matter to her is primarily because she cannot comprehend it, I think talking to her is worth a shot.
I don’t have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, so I can’t provide a lot of detail about it. I may or may not have it; that’s currently something my psychiatrist is trying to determine. However, as someone who regularly deals with depression and something that resembles dysphoric mania (a mixed episode, which means mania and depression occur simultaneously) I can provide you with a few tips. I also have social anxiety disorder, so I understand what it means to be isolated.
If you haven’t already, you might have some moments in which you’re suicidal. Don’t panic; there are many people who have suicidal thoughts but don’t attempt suicide. I myself have never tried to commit suicide even though I’ve made serious plans to do so. For me, there are two types of seriously suicidal moments: a gradually building bleak feeling and a frenzied urgency. The latter is sometimes the most dangerous because it can be unexpected. It’s an urge that is difficult to resist, but I’ve resisted it. From what I gather, when I’m in those states, I’m experiencing something akin to dysphoric mania.
I must confess that I haven’t always resisted in the healthiest way. I won’t elaborate on that because it can be triggering. But there are healthy ways to resist it, too. Finding some way to distract your mind can be helpful. For instance, occasionally if I do a crossword puzzle during an episode, I get so focused that the mood slowly dissipates. I also enjoy writing, and I might post something on my blog or write in a Word document. Allowing myself to fully experience the feeling by writing about it lessens some of my frenzy. Also, I like posting on my blog because I know others will read it. I don’t have to worry about hiding my secret like I often do in real life. To me, it’s comforting to know others might read what I write and understand it. It’s also helpful for me to read how others feel so that I know I’m not alone. If you think writing a blog might be therapeutic, I encourage you to try it. You’ll already have one regular reader in me. 😉
It’s hard to explain other things you may expect because a lot of times there’s a highly individual nature to how we experience our mental issues. For instance, a lot of mine has to do with looking back at past actions and berating myself for them. I hate myself, and low self-esteem can be a symptom of the diagnosis. Yet even though many of us with mental issues experience it, the way we experience it differs based on what’s going on in our lives. That’s why seeing a therapist can be a good idea (if you get that chance). Talking about how the illness manifests itself in your life can allow a therapist to help you with specific life situations your illness is affecting.
If you see a psychiatrist, you’ll probably also try different medications. Don’t get discouraged if you try many medications but none seem to completely work. It can take a while to find the combination that’s right for you. I would also caution you not to think of medication as a cure-all. I find that, for me, medication takes away some but not all of my issues. Still, even that amount is beneficial. You’ll never know if something works until you try it, and some benefit is better than no benefit.
Feel free to e-mail me again in the future if you’d like someone to talk to. I know I’ve said a lot here, but there’s more we could talk about. If you have questions about things you’re experiencing, I’ll do my best to answer them. I’m not a professional, so all I can do is explain what my experiences have been.
I wish you luck with everything.
An Amazon gift voucher to the sum of $25.00 should be winging its way to Angel Fractured by email and I would like to take this opportunity to thank her and our other entrants to this competition for taking time to enter.
I would also like to thank my daughters for judging this competition for me. Each of the letters submitted had great content and were wonderful in their own right and I would have really struggled to choose one for myself.
I shall be publishing the other entries over the next couple of days as I really do feel each one had some really positive stuff in them and are all useful and well worth the read.
Congratulations to all and especially to our winner.
More competitions later.