The Battle of the Mind

February 7, 2018
By Anonymous

The human mind is a fickle concept, serving as an entity of unpredictability.  One tends to overlook the phenomenon of sanity and stability, taking it as yet another common luxury of life. What people tend to forget is that not every mind is normal and not every person who displays a smile is alright. There was a point in time when I too overlooked such possibilities, but a certain experience changed my advocacies and outlook on life forever.

The symptoms began when I was young, tainting my mind and body like a hidden plague that consumed my being and left me oblivious to its existence. Indications such as the switching of moods existed within me, either being in a state of mind with cloudy skies or a state of mind with bright rays of warmth. These mood swings inflicted confusion within me because, due to these contrasting sides, I could never determine who I truly was. This is the story of how I lost that mental luxury so many disregard. This is the story of the battle of my mind.
Since the day I was born, I knew how to cope without sleep, seeing as to I would often operate with little to no rest with no particular reason. Eventually, I began to rely upon it as I repressed my personal confusion of who I was and funneled myself into the struggles of life. For years, I lived under these sleepless and lost-soul conditions, viewing them as an everyday occurrence. As I grew, other parts of me emerged in addition to other symptoms. Anxiety-induced panic attacks and emotional breakdowns caused by familial disarray began to become fairly common for me.

As time passed, these breakdowns strengthened as if it were a hurricane hovering over the ocean and absorbing the water into the clouds. The breakdowns became so frequent and severe that eventually delusion arose within me. It was at this stage, after me hearing the nonexistent lullaby of a music box, when my mother decided to call a psychiatrist.

At first, I dismissed the need for one, believing that the breakdowns were simply a temporary and unimportant ordeal. However, despite my protests, my mother scheduled an appointment. I told the psychiatrist of my experiences, resulting in me officially being diagnosed with both anxiety and OCD. In an attempt to aid my situation, she prescribed an SSRI to reduce the symptoms. Tragically, there were still things lurking in the darkness and growing inside me, waiting for an opportune time to reveal itself. If already hidden away inside an individual, SSRIs are known to bring out the symptoms of bipolar disorder. According to the psychiatrist, there was a strong chance that bipolar disorder would fully emerge from within me since I was already showing minor symptoms, such as lessened need for sleep, racing thoughts, and boundless energy. In the end, with careful contemplation, it was determined that I would take the SSRI regardless of the risks.

After I began the medication, my life returned back to its normal state. The panic attacks had stopped whilst the OCD lessened. Just around the corner were midterms and, now feeling better than I had before, I was prepared to face them with a fixed mental state and a refreshed mind. However, despite salvation finally beginning to reach my form, fate had other plans.

Suddenly, with a wave of overwhelming emotion, severe depression washed over me, causing my grades to plummet and my mind to spiral down into the void. Just as my psychiatrist had warned, more symptoms linked to bipolar disorder began to reveal themselves.

My thoughts were like a prisoner, locked away behind a steel door that was now wide open. Desperately, I tried to shut the door within my brain, scouring the depths of my mind and its subconscious for the hidden key which kept the thoughts sealed tightly away at the end of a daunting hallway. The thoughts, serving as horrific monsters terrorizing  my soul, escaped from their cell, swarming around my figmented body as I curled into a ball and used my hands to protect my head from the verbal beatings which reached my ears. Tragically, there is no plausible way to avoid sound within the mind. For days, I lied upon the couch, devoid of happiness and motivation as my thoughts churned. I felt no reason to smile and I felt no reason to live. Insead, I slept
One day, disappearing just as fast as it had came, my depression vanished.  However, the civil war within my mind was not over yet. When battling bipolar disorder, what goes down must come up and what goes up must come down. I had already experienced the effects of the low side of bipolar disorder, leaving me with having to endure the high. The situation was like shells washed up upon the beach, coming to the shore and reaching freedom before they're sucked back up into the sea. I was the shell and my bipolar disorder was the water.
I entered the stage of hypomania, a state in which one is overly energetic. At first, it was gradual, starting with pressured speech and racing thoughts, but as time passed, the symptoms continued to grow. When my hypomania reached its pique, I was experiencing nearly all its symptoms as it developed into a full-blown manic episode; I was encountering psychosis.

It began as a mere day without rest, but that day extended and extended until eventually I reached a point where I was running on five days without an ounce of sleep. Yet, opposing fatigue, I was practically bouncing off the walls with energy and euphoria. My imagination was exploding with color and I believed I was capable of completing impossible tasks, such as writing an entire novel by morning. I was running and dancing all throughout the dark of night, playing pretend as if I were an imaginative, over-energetic child.

Filled to the brim with concern, my mother called the psychiatrist again and informed her of the symptoms the SSRI was causing. My mother was instructed to take me off the SSRI before the symptoms became worse than they already were. An appointment was scheduled, and not much later I was found sitting in the same chair I was in just a few weeks prior. Although it was evident, that was the day I was officially diagnosed as bipolar.
I finally understood why I had mood swings, why I was irritable without a cause, and why I was incapable of figuring out who I was. I finally understood my life. When living with bipolar, there is little stability. It was my psychiatrist's goal to help me gain that stability for the first time in my entire existence. I stopped the SSRI and began experimenting with different medications, and although it did take a few weeks, we eventually found the one that was suited for me.

My struggles began to wither away into dust as the highs and lows nearly dissipated. My mood swings have lessened, and at long last, I was able to gain the insight I yearned for. I could finally search my soul. After trekking through my subconscious, I determined that I’m not a sad person, but rather a joyous one.
I’m an individual who embraces the phenomenon of optimism and tries to shed away the negativity in other individuals. I traveled a long and hard road to achieve the mental state that I am in now, having hit rock bottom within an abyss of shadows without having any confidence or faith of escaping such a void. I've persevered, learning that hard times come and go and that no matter what, they will always get better. I live to embrace and spread this idea in hopes that I can inspire others to raise themselves back up just as I did. This is the person that I always was. I fought a battle within my mind, and all I did was come back stronger.

The author's comments:

I wrote this piece in hopes that it could one day help others who have bipolar disorder like me. I want to show them that they're not alone and that is okay to have a mental disorder because although it is undeniably hard, it only shows trength. I embrace my bipolar disorder, and I want others to do the same. I want them to be proud, not scared. 

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