Personal Stories

Finding Healing and Self-Love While Living with Bipolar Disorder

by Kellie Ramdeen

My Bipolar II diagnosis was not a shock to me. I had been battling depression since I was 12 years old. When I experienced significant traumas while attending college, my emotions seemed to fluctuate between grave hopelessness and hyperactive frenzy. For months, I would be too depressed to go to class, let alone leave my bed. Then, one day, I would magically wake up feeling like I was on top of the world and had to act on it. I put myself in danger and had little regard for my well-being. I was combatting an endless cycle of inner turmoil.

I thought that graduating from college would be the cure I needed. That space was the site of so much of my pain, grief and suffering. However, no matter where I went — even another country — my symptoms followed me. I came to the stark realization that I could not run away from my emotions. I had to address them.

I decided to work remotely from my family’s home, so I could be with my support system as I attempted to face my pain and emotional challenges. I tried all different kinds of therapy: CBT, DBT, EMDR, MBCT and psychotherapy. I met with a psychiatrist to figure out the right combination of medications. I even tried six weeks of Ketamine therapy.

From all these experiences, I have learned that there is no magical cure that will make my bipolar II go away. My disorder is one that I will have to treat for the rest of my life. For a long time, that notion felt incredibly daunting and impossible. My answers arrived gradually through self-reflection via journaling, painting and talk therapy. These activities have brought to the surface realizations that have been deep within me all along.

I have come to understand the following: I need to lean on my support system. I am not on this journey alone, and I don’t need to try to manage this disorder by myself. I am lucky enough to have family and friends who love and support me. They do not think of me as a burden. They want to help me. And I need to keep trying.

Ultimately, therapy, exercise and medications are all important aspects of my personal road to healing. On days when I don’t feel like getting out of bed, I need to keep moving forward. It’s normal to have bad days, but I cannot let myself give up. I need to trust myself. I need to remember that I am doing my best. I am using resources and doing what I can to help myself.

On days when I question my self-worth, I need to remind myself that I deserve to be here. I deserve self-love. I still experience difficult moments, but I try to stay present and remind myself that everything is fleeting. Some days are harder than others, but I trust myself to self-soothe and manage my emotions. I can do it because I have done it before. I can get through anything.