I invite you to spend the day in the shoes of someone with bipolar depression:
The alarm rings at 4:45am and after multiple snooze buttons you agonizingly wind yourself up, often purposefully hitting the ground with a loud thud so the force could jolt you into reality. You reach for the adderall because it's the only thing that keeps you going.
First one in the office, 6am--you don't even bother to turn on the lights before sitting down at your desk. As you put your headset on to begin your cold calls, crippling anxiety sets in. Don't pick up, don't pick up, you say to yourself. They pick up. Like a switch, the charisma sets in and you win the prospect over with your scripted charm. The demo is set, the calendar invite is sent, and it'll most likely be a $30k software deal that will close by the end of the fiscal quarter.
You walk through the door of your home at 5:20pm, having left the office at 4pm, and with no recollection of the last 80 minutes of your life. Your uninterested 20-month old doesn't bother to look up from his iPad. He doesn't react to you the way he does when dad comes home--bright-eyed and grinning ear-to-ear. You're exhausted anyway, so you plop down on the couch next to him and get lost in 2hrs of Panda Pop on your iPhone to mitigate the aching emptiness of your soul. You feel like a terrible mother, yet you can't find the will to be proactive.
Where did the time go? There was a time when you were so close, your body gave him sustenance. When your smell soothed him and your voice put him to sleep. Now, he acts shy around you like the occasional babysitter who comes once a week for date night. Your aching worsens as you wallow in self-pity.
That was my day, almost every day, for five months.
My son's name is Liam. Bree is Liam's cousin. When I finally decided to seek help, she inspired me to contribute to her mission and evangelize her message: that depression and anxiety comes in many shapes and forms. It can be the chipper voice of the charming saleswoman on the other side of the phone line. It could be the gossiping mom at the toddler birthday party. It can be a singular diagnosis or one paired with the multiple adverse symptoms that come with bipolar disorder.
I had always suspected that I suffered from mental illness, but the stigma kept me from seeking help. My patient and loving family suffered the effects of my illness far longer than they should have, purely due to my ignorance--I thought bipolar people were schizophrenic sociopaths who were categorized with the likes of serial killers. My denial was strong and it was toxic.
Fortunately for me, I have a wonderful, supportive family. A member of which has taken on the huge undertaking of revolutionizing society's perception of mental illness and its pervasive existence. She inspired me to seek help, and to battle my illness with a bold and optimistic spirit. Now on the proper medication, life has never been better. I feel present and aware of my surroundings. Kind and attentive to my loved ones. Pragmatic and unclouded in my thoughts. Life has never been better... And there's no reason why everyone shouldn't feel this way.