• Emily Cashel

Fight the Stigma

My name Is Ivy, I live in Chicago and I suffer from Bipolar Disorder.

It started when I was 11, I started getting depressed but I didn’t understand why I felt this way. I started getting suicidal thoughts, I remember telling my mother I wanted to kill myself. My mother just laughed thinking it was a joke, and told me to go do it. Which made it worse, most of the school year I would pretend to be sick so I could leave school and spend the rest afternoon in bed.

When I turned 13, I remembered experiencing manic episodes, I found myself ditching class, doing recreational drugs & drinking. I would start fights with people because I could, then I would fall in a deep depression. I found the only way to take control and to forget the pain is by inflicting more pain that is when I started I started cutting because it was the only way I found some sort of control.

Any time I would try to get help from my mother she would tell me to suck it up and get over it. I grew up in a culture where mental illness was seen as crazy and something to be ashamed about. It angered me she didn’t understand. I spent a lot of my time hiding in my closet where I felt safe. I would write as much as I could and I found music and writing therapeutic.

I finally decided to get help when I found out my school offered free mental health services. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I remembered feeling ashamed and confused and stopped going to therapy. There was no way I was Bipolar, I could fight this without therapy or medication. I wasn’t crazy, I was okay, and this was just a phase.

My mother was a single parent for the most part so she was never really around to notice anything really and my father would appear randomly during the year. When he was home his temper was short, we were terrified to speak to him because he might just snap. He was physically abusive and manipulating. I didn’t have a support system and I was too ashamed to reach out to anyone else. As years went I knew I needed help but I didn’t know how or where to get it. I just couldn’t go on living like this, I felt so helpless and alone.

At the age of 18 I tried to commit suicide by taking a big amount of prescribed medicine. My mother found me somewhat conscious. She called 911 and they ended up pumping my stomach. This was the moment my mother realized this wasn’t me acting out but I had an Illness. I started going to therapy and taking medication on and off.

As of today I am on medication and have been able to enjoy activities I love. I am trying my best to fight the stigma and create awareness about my illness. I know I will always live with Bipolar disorder and that is why I want to reach out to people and let them know they are not alone.

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