Hello, world! My name is Emma and I am an Asian American female who lives with Bipolar Disorder. My interests are in psychology, healthy eating, and binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy and other Shonda Rhimes series on Netflix.
In this blog, I will be giving you a unique perspective on what it’s like to be a Person of Color (POC) who lives with Bipolar Disorder. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Bipolar disorder, it’s a condition where someone cycles through both extremely high (i.e., mania) and low (i.e., depression) states of mood. Everyone has their ups and downs, but people with Bipolar Disorder have ups and downs that bring dysfunction into their everyday lives and can often cause relationships with friends, family, colleagues, and significant others to turn bad – I mean, REALLY bad.
I chose to highlight Bipolar Disorder in this blog because contrary to popular belief, bipolar is not a rare condition and it affects 5.7 million American adults each year. While I can’t speak for everyone who has Bipolar, I can explain it from the perspective of a 22-year-old Asian American who is struggling with this debilitating and confusing disorder.
I come from a culture where academic performance is highly valued and mania made me extremely productive during college. I would pull all-nighters and get really high marks on exams. However, there were obvious downsides to mania. Once, I thought I could start my own company and become the next Mark Zuckerberg. In the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), what professionals use to diagnose mental illnesses, these were called “grandiose thoughts”. Now that I am more stabilized on medication, I could see how my thoughts seemed grandiose, but at the time, I really had a super inflated sense of self-worth.
On the other hand, I have experienced extremely states of depression. Depression is what usually brings people with Bipolar to seek professional help and people with Bipolar often get misdiagnosed with just some type of depression. For me, I was so dysfunctional when I was depressed that I dropped out of my PhD program only two months in. I thought about suicide all the time and made many attempts. If any of you reading this are suicidal, just know that you are not alone no matter how hopeless your situation seems. There is hope. People care about you. It’s not easy to get over it alone though, so seek help. Your family and your friends want to help. You are not alone!
In my posts to come, I will unravel how I have come to receive the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and my experiences being hospitalized in the ER and two inpatient psychiatric clinics. Also, I will talk of my experience in both individual and group therapy.
I chose the Lotus because it has a history of deep symbolism in Chinese culture. In Chinese culture, we think that lotuses are resilient plants that rise above the mud to bloom and flourish into beautiful flowers. This symbolism represents my struggles with Bipolar disorder and how I overcame the many challenges that were hurdled my way during manic and depressive episodes.