Shortly after having my second son I was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder II, and so many pieces of my puzzle fell into place.

Events and moods from the past decade (from my early 20s until my diagnosis at 34) finally felt explained.

The bipolar term hypomania filled a gap of understanding in my mind. From risky behaviour, including blackout drinking, to “achievements” like writing books, 2 or 3-a-day workouts, and creating inventions, hypomania fit the bill.

On the other end of the spectrum, my low moods perfectly fit the term depression. During these down times, I’d feel the utter inability to fulfill commitments or finish what I’d started during a hypomania. I’d feel a complete lack of motivation and self-esteem and would have very dark thoughts. I struggled to take care of the most simple menial tasks, like putting away laundry or mailing a letter. I’d become apathetic; life would feel unmanageable.

I internalized my bipolar diagnosis with equal parts shame and relief. While I was initially deeply ashamed of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder because of the stigma attached to the label, in an odd way, the realization that I wasn’t morally defective but actually mentally unwell filled me with great relief.

I finally had an answer, and that meant there had to be potential solutions.

My journey with bipolar is mine alone and does not reflect that of others with bipolar. Each person’s story is so different and theirs alone to tell, if they so wish. My hope with Cutting Through Chaos podcast is to help others share if they wish to do so. Through sharing pieces of our stories, we can foster solidarity as well as build understanding by educating those who love us on what our realities are like.

If you have a story you feel compelled to share, reach out. I’d love to help you share it with the world.

Stephanie Marie / @sincerelystephiemarie

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