By Paul Buskey
Bipolar and struggles with self harm
I’ve been asked a couple of occasions why I speak out now about my diagnoses of Bipolar II and my struggles with self-harm.
At this point in my life I’m able to come forward because the stigma no longer holds me hostage. If my experiences help one person come forward and get the help they need, or changes someone’s perspective how they see mental illness, then it’s all worth it.
My tattoo of the semi-colon along with, “You’re not alone” has a lot of meaning to me. Since the age of 11 or 12, I’ve felt alone. It doesn’t matter if I am with friends or family, that feeling prevails. It’s like it’s in my DNA. Feeling like I don’t belong anywhere is also something that I struggle with on a regular basis which became stronger after God spoke to me. Being invited, going to events, even my favorite ones, it’s always present.
During my breakdown which led to my diagnosis I was in a very dark place and it was all consuming. I was in bed for months barely able to do anything. This is when I came face to face with my demons. We had conversations that felt just as real as standing next to you. Nowadays the darkness and demons are in the background but have never left completely.
This is also when God spoke to me. It’s a something that I will never forget. Calm, peaceful, being free and loved comes to mind. Coming out of the darkness into the light of all of a sudden was incredible. All the blackness, voices, feeling alone and not belonging were gone. Three words were spoken “You’re not alone.”
They’re people you’ve known your whole life from all walks of life who have hidden their mental illness from you. They suffer in silence due to the stigma and fear of being judged.
You should be honored if someone confides in you about their struggles. Listen with an open mind –and especially an open heart. They trusted you enough to come to you with their most intimate secret. Don’t make them regret it.