identity crisis.

wanna know the truth? i just finished a stint of self medicating. i am not self medicating anymore but i was and i am not proud of this bad habit {one that comes once every few years} and it typically doesn’t last very long. the withdrawal symptoms have started to seep in- swollen wrists and headaches. but honestly, that isn’t what snapped me out of my bipolar haze.

i said to myself today- ‘wow, you are such a bitch.’ yes. i said those exact words to myself and it literally broke my heart. because i am the exact opposite. i am so nice that people often confuse me for the mat in front of the door. i am typically standing in an aisle in target contemplating two different birthday gifts and when i can’t decide, i just say ‘screw it’ and get both. i help people move on my only day off. i bring coffee to my friends when i know the struggle is real. so when i said that to myself, something clicked. no, i’m not a bitch {i just play one on tv, syke}. but i am in the middle of a huge identity crisis.

which is exactly what i said to my therapist when i plopped into a chair in her office twelve hours ago. i had posed a question a few hours prior on social media asking for character traits that my friends would associate with me. no one was brave enough to type ‘bitch’ into the comments but i don’t think anyone thinks that of me anyways. it’s me. i think i am being one because my identity is in retrograde {move over mercury}. here’s what i mean by identity crisis and maybe you can relate:

{two thousand eight}: when i was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, i was just shy of my twentieth birthday. i had been living my life in and out of therapists’ offices and surviving on cocktails of antidepressants with my bowl of rice krispies. i had been trapped inside my own head; in my own thoughts, for quite some time. i was given a new identity at that time, one that affirmed the challenges in my mental health were real and gave me answers to the impulses, insomnia, depression, anxiety, rage, uncertainty and most importantly the nauseating roller coaster that were my moods. i immediately sank myself into this new identity- healthy, functioning, human. some would say i was hard to be around because i was self destructing in front of my own eyes but i would cut you if you even tried to tell me to get it together.

this new identity became my life. my existence. i embraced everything that came with it. i felt like the people in life preferred this version of me. preferred this identity. preferred this me. i fell headstrong into the roles that came with this identity. i nailed and glued and taped back together all the damage that had been done in my old identity. i was repairing what i had done in phases of my life that i didn’t know existed. being bipolar and unmedicated was a lot like blacking out after drinking and waking up only remembering the first sip of alcohol. here i was at the age of twenty sifting through the broken parts, desperate to make amends and to make sure that everyone loved me. not the old version. this one. the healthy one. the accepted one. the fixed one. i have dedicated the last decade of my life to making sure that the old identity, the original version of me has been buried. i buried it beneath all the good things i have done in the last ten years. buried beneath the apologies, the diplomas, the birthday cards, the job offers, the friendships, the successes, the healthy relationships, the good stuff. i buried that unmedicated, impulsive, sleep deprived, helpless girl. i held a funeral for her about eight weeks after i popped lithium into my mouth for the first time. i mourned her existence and everything she was to me. i knew i couldn’t be her anymore. i had to do more. had to be more. she’s squished down so far into my soul that she only seeps through when heartache happens or when grief swells high. i can nod my head to her and quietly push her down again. but i have worked hard to make sure she never stays long. because that identity was my first identity. that was my core for so long. i had my first heartbreak in that identity. i got into college with that identity. i lost my virginity in that identity. i was a kid in that identity. i broke my front teeth out in that identity. so much of who i was, no. who i am. is in that version.

{twenty eighteen}: it’s been ten years since i walked out of johns hopkins with a slip for my pharmacist. i knew that i would be spending my days in front of a therapist. i knew i would have to learn how to drink alcohol on yet another prescription that strongly recommended me not too. i knew i would discover the swollen wrists and ankles that came with the new medication. and i would discover how different i would become. and that each day that i elected to put the capsule on my tongue and swallow was one more day that i was accepting of my mental health fate. and here we are, actually here i am. because this journey has really been about me. not about anyone else. and i am faced with this identity crisis. cresting thirty and i am struggling to identify with the girl i have created over the last three thousand seven hundred and twenty seven days. i love that girl. the one who took over the sad, scared, overwhelming, bat shit crazy, impulsive girl. the girl who was trapped. the girl who was screaming for help for twelve years. the one who was released that day in june ten years ago. now i have proven to everyone that i am grown. that i grew from that. into the girl i have been for some time now. but the crisis part is here. i don’t want to be that fixed version anymore. i don’t want all of who that is anymore. i am more than her now. i became her to survive. i embraced her because i had too. i would’ve collapsed if i didn’t take on a new self. so here i am. age twenty nine, lacking direction in my new self discovery.

because at the very core- i identify with the original version of myself. i have always loved her. i always loved her anxiety and her non confrontational ways. and her innocence. and her fuck you attitude. i only say that because in the second grade this bitch of a girl karen took the black crayon from me {and it was literally the only black crayon in the box} and i stabbed her right between her thumb and index finger with my red colored pencil and i was in so much trouble. but damn it felt good to show karen that i wasn’t to be messed with. now granted she didn’t invite me to her birthday party three months later but whatevs. i think that was probably the only time i ever really showed someone who i was. but that version of me- the raw, unmedicated version; i value that one. so when i pay my respects to her, i acknowledge the identity. i know that i had to be that way to get here. that the anxiety and sleeplessness and straight up horror i caused got me here. and the girl that i have been for some time now, her identity got me here too. i became motivated. driven. ambitious. i made money moves. i took big leaps in my career. things i would’ve never ever done before my diagnosis. but now, i want to move into a new identity. one where i am not walked all over when i speak at the dinner table. one where i stand up for myself when the rumors are thick with lies. one who cuts out anyone who isn’t throwing a parade in my honor for the things i have done for myself. one where my husband’s opinion of me is the one i hold in second highest regard, right behind my opinion of myself. this isn’t a brag paragraph. this is me taking on a no bullshit identity.

because i buried the identity i had for more than half my life because it wasn’t working for everyone. it was unhealthy. it wasn’t right. and this one- she served her purpose. but she is also fueled by a shitload of pills. so this new identity. the new version. she’s going to encompass a little bit of each of my identities. because in my world- it’s okay to be anxious, as long as you look fear in the eye. it’s okay to be bipolar, as long as you’re working towards being the best version of yourself. and it’s okay to want to grow, as long as you keep your roots close.

if you made it this far, thank you. because i have sobbed through writing this whole thing. identity is so fucking hard. it’s who you are to the core. and being a girl with bipolar disorder kept me from truly knowing myself. so now i am accepting myself and all the versions i carry. and i am owning a part of each one; which is what i should’ve done a long time ago.

here’s to self acceptance. here’s to being whoever you wanna be. here’s to knowing what broke you. but most importantly, here’s to being your own fucking glue.


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