This I Believe

Maygen - Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Entered on October 26, 2007

I Am a Survivor

By: Maygen Murray

I believe that my life is not defined in terms of my disabilities or problems; for many years, I had difficulty accepting that I was so different from everyone I cared for and knew. After about 17 years, I realized I had nothing to be ashamed of, and it didn’t have to rule my life. My special circumstances are that I am unable to hear at all in my left ear, and I am Type 1 Bipolar.

One of the hardest things in life is to sit there and have a specialist tell you that there is nothing that he/she can do to help with your hearing. My doctor looked at me and told me that I would never be able to hear correctly, and I would become completely deaf and blind before I was even out of my teenage years. That was extremely traumatizing for a young child, but I wanted to hear the truth no matter what he had to say. My mother was not as willing to accept the doctor’s diagnosis, and we were constantly going to specialist after specialist to get other opinions. Everyone had the same news for us. Today, I am sitting here, still deaf, but not completely, and I still have my vision.

Along with the hearing loss, the bipolar instilled that I would never be a “normal” person; even my family treated me differently. I know that it was unintentional, but it was just a force of habit for me to be the child who needed more attention and oversight than the others. When I was 15, I was diagnosed as having a Type 1 Bipolar Disorder. The most basic definition is that it is a “major affective disorder in which an individual alternates between states of deep depression and extreme elation.” With me, there is also a deep sense of anger embedded that makes me lash out at family and friends.

The bipolar disorder has been harder to deal with than being hearing impaired. Most people are unable to deal with it and disappear before it gets even harder. Recently, I had an episode that was terrifying; I became extremely depressed and went into one of my attacks. These episodes are doubtlessly the worst thing about being bipolar. In my situation, the sudden drastic changes in emotion are even worse because most of the time I am unable to remember anything that happened during the episode.

I have been secluded my entire life and coming to school and living independently has allowed me to realize that it does not matter what disabilities or problems I have, there will always be a place where I can be me. Now I am not ashamed to tell people that I can’t hear in one ear or that I am bipolar. I believe I am not and should not have to be defined in terms of my disabilities. I am a fighter, a survivor.