Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A New Year: Thoughts of a Twenty-Three Year Old

Today is my birthday. I'm 23. When I was a teenager I always imagined that twenty three would be the perfect age. It was past the uncertainty of the teenage years and far enough into the early twenties that the euphoric joy of new experiences like college, drinking, and sex would have settled into a modicum of normalcy and I would have a pretty solid idea of myself and my future.

Instead, I feel more like I'm on the brink of a brand new journey and everything I thought I knew is up for grabs. I still have the intense uncertainty of my earlier years and, while I do have some basic expectations and understanding of my life, I don't have any idea what comes next. It's like I got to some end point and now I'm starting something completely new.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was nineteen and I've struggled with it constantly. I thought I had it under control and that while my "normal" wasn't close to healthy, I thought that I'd learned to navigate it, learned to operate on a day to day basis without falling off some cliff. And that worked for a while. But when I moved and after I started writing, it got worse. And continued to get worse until it was interfering with my ability to write.

I really dreaded seeking treatment. I'd been twice burned and the thought of medication (which is basically the only option since it's a purely chemical issue) terrified me. But I have an amazing support system. Even when my brain tells me I'm alone in my struggle, it's not true. My amazing boyfriend, although he often doesn't understand me, is always there for me. My mother has gone through the same struggle and she understands how to help me and when I'm capable of being helped. And my brother. My brother pushed me to consider treatment again because he understood that it really is the first step to mental health. Because of these amazing people in my life I have been able to start a new treatment, and, while it's only been a week, I really feel like I might actually get better this time.

So now that I've got my mind on a better path, I'm hoping my writing life will improve drastically. I hope that if I don't have to spend all my energy fighting my own brain, I'll be able to write and get my book finished.

I understand that writing is, technically, something you do on your own, but living is not. Living requires help and love and encouragement and at the cusp of this new year I feel an especial gratitude for the people in my life that are always there for me.

Everyone needs help sometimes. Don't be afraid to ask for it.

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