This I Believe

Sarah - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on November 20, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

When I was in the 7th grade, my mom died of brain cancer. It may seem blunt – almost unfeeling – to say it right out like that. Nevertheless, when an event such as death happens, it simply is blunt, it is real, and no words can mask it or make it any less piercing. Her death, however, was something that I had been dealing with for about two years. When it happened, I was as ready as one can expect for that type of life changing event.

Over the next year, I had my highs and lows, but for the most part I thought I was getting along pretty well. In the eighth grade, I started getting involved with a lot of different activities – National Academic League, Student Council, Drama, Technology Leadership, Soccer, and Track – just to name a few. I was driven to do everything there was to do and I felt unstoppable. Then, near the end of my second semester of eighth grade, I felt like I had abruptly hit a brick wall. I was depressed – to a point where I dreaded walking from class to class, and I could barely stand even riding the bus with my classmates.

I figured my depression was from my mother’s death. However, after a few weeks of this depression, I began seeing doctors and eventually I was diagnosed as being bipolar. I went through several months experimenting with various medications prescribed to me. All of these made my situation seem worse – I felt disconnected, unemotional, and overall, numb to the world. I could not think about anything and my creativity felt completely destroyed.

I was faced with a decision: to live life void of my creativity and passion, or to live life with both of those, always aware that the risk of falling back into a depression was close by. I chose the latter of the two.

With this decision, the next year, the beginning of high school, proved very difficult. But I was determined to live life the way I was, despite the risks. Through my high periods, I had to constantly make sure to do things that the periods of mania often made me forget to do – sleep regularly, eat the right amount of food, and be tolerant of people around me (who were not always as obsessively enthused about certain activities as much as I was). During the lows, I had to regularly remind myself that the low was only temporary, and that I was still capable of doing the things I could do when I was in my high – I just had to work a little harder.

For three years now, I have lived my life this way, continuously monitoring how I am living my daily life and constantly planning everything out. I still have to be careful to not get involved with too many things. When I am on a high, I feel like I can do everything, but now I am able realize my limits.

Some people might question why it is I live my life this way, when taking pills would probably be much easier. I believe that being bipolar makes up an essential part of who I am – in some ways good, in some ways bad – but in all ways me.