On September 5, 2016, I took the ultimate action. I tried to complete suicide. I made the decision two days earlier. I planned it out. I wrote out whom to call, what to post on my social media to let friends know of my passing, wrote letters to the people I wanted to send one last message to, scheduled when would be the best time and then I did it.
I woke up two days later with my sisters and my mom around me. I woke up intubated and crying. Not tears of joy, but tears of failure. What I did not know, is that everything in my head and life was about to change. For the better.
I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder my Junior year in college (15 Years Ago). I was failing out and my family thought I should get checked for any learning disorders and psychological issues. What we found out was that I was living with bipolar II. In typical Erez fashion I continued to learn about bipolar and continued to joking about it with friends because humor has always been important to me. I read more, and more and more. It was important to me to learn about the definition, the symptoms, pre-cursors to episodes etc. What took me time to realize was there are differences between “textbook” definitions of bipolar disorder and my bipolar disorder.
We read in books that we all have blood and we all have veins they run through. Do those books tell us what exact blood type each of us are? No. Do those books tell us the exact mapping of my veins in my body or yours in your body? No. Each of us are different so they are in the same general area, but a textbook cannot tell us exactly where each of ours are. We are not a textbook definition. However, a lot of people do not realize that. Heck it took me years to realize that about myself.
Some of my family still don’t realize that. See it would be easy to blame my suicide attempt on my bipolar disorder. That I was “Just having an episode.” Just like when I left multiple jobs, was passionate about an opinion, angry about something someone did, too energetic, sad, happy...to the people who are deemed “closest” to me: “It’s just the bipolar.” Do you know what that does? When everything gets attributed to the bipolar disorder? You lose your voice and you lose who you are. You hear something enough and often; it can become your truth.
A person with bipolar disorder can be depressed without being in a bipolar depression. While our chemical imbalance can affect our emotions on a daily basis, it’s not all our brain is capable of it. Prior to my suicide attempt, I had been depressed for months. How I know it wasn’t an episode? I know my episodes. I know that in a depressive episode I am useless to the world, I can’t bother to eat, I can’t even go change the channel on the TV and can’t get out of bed. I know that I am extremely hazy about everything in the moment and looking back. This time, I am completely clear on all accounts. I made that decision because I felt hopeless, because I lost who I am, I lost my voice. All the “stereotypes” and “misinformation” of my bipolar disorder brought me to. There is a difference between a situational depression and one that is our chemical imbalance sending us into the depths of a bipolar episode depression. It’s hard to see the difference sometimes, but it’s a difference that does exist. It’s part of our self-care to be able to find that difference.
It is important to know about bipolar disorder. What it is, what it means, the signs of an episode etc. Reading those books are important. However, learning about our own bipolar disorder is even more important. Just like anything, the base is necessary but we all have our architecture and our design. Just like reading about the disorder itself, it’s important we read the books that exist about other people’s experiences living with bipolar disorder.
NOTE: We live with bipolar disorder. We are not bipolar. We live with bipolar.
The stigma of bipolar disorder that people choose to accept affected me to the point where I decided to take my life. I spent my time thinking “I’m pointless, they are better off without me.” After I woke up, after I came to terms that I am still here…I realized something. I am the one that can be better off without them. That I can work towards breaking that stigma for me and for more people. Something changed in me in that two-day coma. I woke up to transparency. I have a voice. I have a me. That I no longer choose to let others version of “Me” become that person in my mirror.
We don’t need to prove this to anyone, but we can show them. If they don’t want to see? If they are stuck on a definition. Then we have the right to say, “Maybe they don’t deserve to really know me. That’s okay.”
Hi, I’m Erez. I love music, theatre, reading, horror movies. Oh, I also live and survive with bipolar disorder every day of my life. I spend my time breaking bipolar, so that others can understand it better.
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