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#DearTeenageMe, Don't Wait To Get Help

Learn more about #DearTeenageMe at http://sayitforwardcampaign.org/

I know junior high was rough, and high school is only going to be rougher. By now you've realized that you're different from most of the other kids – they've told you so, but they didn't have to. You've been dissolving in tears for the least – or no – reason. You've been laughing out loud in class about things that no one else understands. 

There's a reason for that. You have bipolar disorder, and you need help dealing with it. 

Remember in junior high school when you had that nervous tic in your neck, and your doctor gave you Valium for it? That may have stopped the tic, but it wasn't a good solution to your main problem. Your bipolar disorder comes out mostly as depression, and Valium is a depressant. In the long run, it only makes you feel worse. 

I know you've found a few friends, and that's good. It may surprise you to know that some of them will still be your friends decades from now. Treasure them. And when they reach out to you, don't ignore them or turn them away. You will need their help and support. 

And speaking of support, get help NOW. You have been offered an opportunity to see the school district's psychologist. Take it. I know you're afraid of what he might say – that you're crazy, that you'll always be this way, that there's no hope for your future. But he won't. 

He will tell you that you have an illness (very likely he will say depression or manic-depression). He will likely recommend talk therapy and maybe medication. That's not so scary – you already know how to speak well. 

Right now, bipolar disorder can't be cured, but the symptoms can be lessened. Wouldn't you like to be able to enjoy things? To connect with other people? To feel something other than numbness and misery? To know why you feel the way you do? Medication can help with that. You take medication for anemia and sinus problems and headaches – why not something for your brain?

I know you're afraid of tampering with your brain. But you'll be able to keep the parts that make you smart and special and funny – and they won't be masked by the parts that make you miserable.

Talking to someone will help too. You will find someone who understands your problems and can help you find healthier ways to cope with them. You know all that sarcasm and self-deprecation you use? You'll find there are better ways to talk to yourself and to other people. You can still write the depressing poetry and listen to sad songs if you need to. You can even cry; you probably will, but it will help you heal instead of pushing you farther into the pit.

And those fears you have? I can assure you that no one will care whether your permanent record shows that you've seen a psychologist. You will still get into a good college – a really great one, in fact. And you will get more out of your education than you otherwise would. You will never be in a psychiatric ward or a mental hospital. You will never wear a straight jacket.

You will have a job, a home, friends, and a loving husband (surprise!). You will meet dozens of new friends who will cherish you, and help you, and have fun with you. You will travel abroad and learn new things every day. You will read and read and read to your heart's content.

You'll still have problems. You'll have to stay on your medication. You'll need a trusted professional to talk to. You'll need a support system. You will have them.

You will have them sooner, and more fully, and more easily if you GET HELP NOW. You can lessen your struggle and have the future you deserve.

As your future self, I wish you would.

Love,

Me

P.S. Oh, and you'll need strength too. Discover feminism, and don't be a doormat.

Read more of Janet's posts here.

Comments

Janet's beautifully-written post inspired me as I work on my own story about what I would tell myself from the perspective of a 66-year-old man. That scrawny kid lost his mom to a ruptured brain aneurysm a week before Christmas 1964. The tragedy kicked off the bipolar gene I got through my dad, unknown to anyone in those days, of course.

Well, if I keep writing, I'll my story! Thank you, Janet, for sharing the truth about our disease.

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