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The Bipolar Millennial Woman

Being Bipolar as a millennial is gruelling. I am 22 years old, trying to navigate my professional life, social life and dating life - so mentally I’m always somewhere between Tramadol and Zopiclone. It’s challenging trying to keep up in the digital age anyway, never mind trying to keep up when I’m having - what feels like - an identity crisis. Fortunately, we’re in an age where mental illness is social media popular and everyone totally understands mental health… well kind-of.

I didn’t pick a more familiar unipolar depression or an anxiety disorder out of my mental health lucky bag, so I pulled the short straw in terms of an illness that has sympathy or understanding. I can employ some of the lessons for depression and anxiety to myself, because my illness is an umbrella of mental illnesses - I get depression and anxiety too! So when it’s one of those social media days like ‘Mental Health Awareness Day’, I can really take in the indispensible teachings that I find on social media to cure myself of my Bipolar Disorder. For example: the Instagram quotes.

‘Smile’. - Innovative, well mannered, inspiriting – I always like a reminder.

A poignant Ghandi quote that certainly wasn’t penned by Ghandi. – Liberating. Yes! – I should choose happiness.

I can also extend myself to meditational quotes, for when I am manic.
‘Breathe’ is real punchy. Instagram proves pretty educational. I’ve certainly acquired the understanding that: breathing = good. Not smiling = bad.

From all the various, trendy things I have endeavoured to teach myself in order to control my illness - I have to say that talking is really important. Sometimes I see a quote that says ‘just talk about it’. I enjoy those quotes. Sometimes I message my friends asking if I can call them so I can talk about it and they respond: ‘can’t you just message instead?’ - which is perhaps a little fallacious. Should the inspirational quote be edited to: ‘Just DM me about it?’.
Now, how do I find the right emoji for - ‘I’m going to kill myself’?

These kinds of decisions in my digital life are more burdensome than the navigation with the illness itself; wearing a label is totally enervating. It’s testing enough trying to live with Bipolar Disorder; it’s a different breed of cat trying to learn how to best present myself as the show-stopping ‘Bipolar Mimi’. For example, in dating: do I mention my Bipolar Disorder on my tinder profile? Should I attempt a joke? Should I mention my Bipolar Disorder in a way that makes me more desirable?

I have Bipolar Disorder, when I am manic I am addicted to sex.
I have Bipolar Disorder, when I am depressed I am withdrawn and thus will not be needy.

Or should I go for something that everyone puts on his or her Tinder bio to be relatable but just drop it in like:

Here for a good time, not a long time. (I have Bipolar Disorder)

There are countless possibilities but I have certainly found that telling people I have Bipolar Disorder is vital. I had an ex-boyfriend whose family were ignorant and certainly weren’t pleased that out of all the women he could’ve brought home to mum, he brought back a Bipolar one. The stigma I faced and the fact that they were so appalled that they weren’t pre-warned about my illness, has changed the way I approach dating and I now feel it’s mature to mention my contagious disease illness. It’s like – if I have IBS, I would need to tell my boyfriend’s family about it as soon as I meet them just in case they aren’t okay with having someone like that in their house. So the next time I meet a boyfriend’s family, I’ll be upfront. Practicing what Instagram taught me: if I’m depressed, I smile. If I’m manic, I’ll breathe.
 ‘Hi, I’m Mimi and I have Bipolar’.
Except if I’m manic, and my cognitive isn’t too great, it’ll be:
 ‘Hi, I’m Bipolar and I have Mimi’.
 If I’m depressed I’ll probably not be there at all. But I guess both situations make a convincing case for calling the police: ‘My son’s dating a Bipolar!’, like calling a dog warden to collect a rabid, stray dog.

Living with stigma can be wounding sometimes, the notion that people have already made up their minds about you and your illness despite not genuinely knowing you – can make me feel kind of sad. (Or if I’m off my medication, kind-of seriously, impenetrably depressed). I’ve absorbed the ability to channel this upset into something more constructive: like resentment. I could always just spitefully give birth to their grandchildren. You know how people say that you shouldn’t use children as weapons, well… what if I do? I’m not venomous, I wouldn’t cut visitation rights or hinder relationships – I mean: I could just breed an army of bipolar children. Bipolar Disorder is indeed hereditary, so I could just have lots of them for extra special Bipolar power.

Seriously though, when I do feel sorry for myself – I think: what a shame that my partner would have to date a Bipolar. Imagine him telling his friends about me when we meet. See, I’m quite lucky that a few guys think I’m pretty so I sometimes get the ‘How is she still single?’ comment and that I ‘must be crazy!’. My unfortunate, future man would then have to ratify that: yes, she is indeed, actually crazy.

I am not exclusively crazy because of my Bipolar Disorder, it’s also exacerbated by the fact that I am just a sensitive girl. One of the common triggers for episodes, for example, is stress; but then my star sign’s Cancer – so everything in life is disquieting, emotional trauma. I am reasonably sure that even though I have been writing somewhat satirically, I’ve inadvertently hurt my own feelings 5 times and had to take breaks to again ‘breathe’. I know what you’re thinking: ah yes, certain psychosis symptoms – delusions… she believes in horoscopes. No, I just legitimately believe in horoscopes. I thought I was imprisoned in a grisly nightmare by being sensitive and Bipolar, but ultimately Gemini and Bipolar is the real hard work. I am permanently battling an identity crisis trying to deal with a mood disorder, I couldn’t imagine also having a star sign that is cosmically destined to make me split.

Despite my countless hindrances and difficult times, I’ve gotten to an amiable stage where I feel I’m in control. I don’t commonly experience episodes, partly because I’m dosed up on lithium where my happiness capacity is at an 8 and my sadness capacity is at a 3 (perhaps allowing a 2 when I watch a movie where a dog dies). Truthfully, the real quandary is maintaining a harmonious, stable life despite all that I have thrown at me as a millennial woman. My most valuable advice to others with the illness is to stay committed to treatments and self-management, and try to be watchful of your illness because awareness is imperative to recovery. I’ve gotten to a positive place where I – Mimi Black – have control of my vivacious life, but I will continue to peer over my shoulder to ensure manic Mimi Pink or low Mimi Blue doesn’t show up uninvited to my party.

London, UK