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I'm 18 and I'm Bipolar

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I was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder at the end of my junior year of high school. Up until then, my mom and I had no idea why I was so difficult all the time.

Living alone with your mom is a lot of estrogen and you're bound to fight, but this wasn't normal. I couldn't ever see past my own emotions, and there would be days that I loved being around my mom and then there were days that I would irrationally scream at her for no reason. I was so tired of fighting, my mother and how my life had spiraled out of control that we finally went to the doctor and talked it out, figured what the problem was and started working on it.

Even though I received medication, it wasn't a quick fix. Nothing ever is. Living with bipolar disorder is a constant battle of trying to figure out which emotions are real and which are not. I constantly have to sit myself out of situation and ask myself, "Should I be so angry about this?" or "Is this as great as it actually seems?"

Already being a raging, hormonal teenager, tack on a mood disorder, and things get tricky. Last month, my grandfather passed away, and I stopped taking my medication. I didn't really realize things were wrong because I was in such a manic state. I ended up spending every cent of my high school graduation money on nothing I needed and am currently patching up things with my mom because the lows and the highs are so extreme.

Things I do to help me control my emotions and figure out what's real, that's the main point of this post. I don't know how many people with bipolar disorder will read this, but I'm sure it can help others, too.

1. Remove yourself from the situation completely.

Your emotions do matter, but they may not make sense to other people and explaining them will make you more emotional, whether it's anger or sadness. Go to a different room, fiddle with your phone, take a deep breath and try to rationalize what you're feeling.

2. Try square breathing.

My grandma taught me a technique to calm myself down whenever I am having an episode. You breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds and start all over until you feel better. You're too focused on breathing squarely that the irrational decision you were about to make slowly fades away.

3. Surround yourself with understanding people.

Those who don't have bipolar disorder will never truly understand how you feel, but at least be around those who understand when you need time or why you're acting that way. It doesn't make it OK to treat people badly, but this way, if you slip up and can't control yourself, you're not losing best friends.

It's difficult to live with this kind of mental disorder. When I feel good, I feel like I'm on top of the world and I love it - but when it's bad, it can get dark and horrible. Lashing out and hurting people is a hard thing to live with when you never meant it and letting toxic people back into your life because you feel great is also a bad decision (so is spending all your money).
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