Staying Balanced on the Hyphen

This blog post contains discussions of bipolar disorder. If you are in crisis or you think you may have an emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). If you are located outside the United States, call your local emergency line immediately.

Do you know someone with a mental illness? Someone who is considered neuroatypical, whose brain works differently than most people?

Perhaps you know someone with bipolar disorder, as “an estimated 2.8% of U.S. adults had bipolar disorder in the past year.” (The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center, 2017) Or you know someone who has this disease and you don’t know it — someone who, as I put it, is “staying balanced on the hyphen”. This might be someone who works very hard on a daily basis to stay within a “normal” range of emotions and not give into the manic highs and deep lows of the illness.

one woman comforting another woman
Image by Serena Wong from Pixabay

Bipolar disorder is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as “a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks” (The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center, 2020). It is characterized by extreme see-sawing moods, from “extremely ‘up,’ elated, irritable, or energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very ‘down,’ sad, indifferent, or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes)” (The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center, 2020).

Bipolar disorder isn’t a death sentence, nor is it a hopeless endeavor. Like any other chronic disease, it’s a lifelong companion that may be require medication, supervision by medical professionals (and yourself), and other treatment. This may be especially true now, in this time of uncertainty and shifting emotions.

Why am I discussing this on the Touro College Libraries blog? Because I want everyone, whether they have a mental disease — I hate calling them an illness — or not, who is going through a tough time right now to know they are not alone.

As I said before, it is almost certain that you know someone with a mental disease, whether they have told you about it or not. I was first officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 35, after years of suffering through deep, dark depressions that gave way to, what we now know were, bright and dangerous manias. After much trial and error, my doctors and I found the correct combination of therapy, medication, and mental exercises to keep me “staying balanced on the hyphen.” But even with those tools, now is a trying time for me, and for others, too.

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Image by Harald Funken from Pixabay

I want the Touro community to know we will get through this darkness and find the light. As long as we hold onto the smallest seed of hope, it will blossom and grow. As a community, we are the strongest when we work together.

Touro offers several mental health resources for students, which can be found here: Student Mental Health Resources. Another resource for students is the Health Advocate Student Assistant Program, which can also be reached via phone: 855-384-1800.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t want to go through Touro, there is always the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

No matter what, know you are not alone. You have people out here who care about you and want to help you. Please reach out and contact someone.

This post was contributed by Heather Hilton, Librarian, Bay Shore

References

The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center. (2017, November). Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/bipolar-disorder.shtml

The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center. (2020, January). Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml

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