Life With Bipolar Disorder Is Like Living Behind Bars

I will never give up my hope of being paroled.
Illustration of a sad man sitting in a prison cell
Bipolar disorder can feel like living in prison. | Image made by author with Canva AI.

My cell may not have steel bars and locks, but it’s a prison just the same. My windows open to the world outside, but most of my view is out of reach.

Life with bipolar disorder often feels like you’re living in prison.

I try to concentrate on putting positive into the world. Even on my best days, though, the restrictions I live with take their toll. Reflecting on the impact of mental illness inspired this piece. This is the story of my prison and how it compares to one with concrete and bars.

Confinement

I have bipolar 1 disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Mental illness me feel isolated and alone, even in a room full of people. It creates a wall between me and those who can never understand. Social anxiety makes it painful to leave the house or spend time with friends.

I also have Familial Mediterranean Fever, an auto-inflammatory disease that creates excess inflammation in my limbs and around my vital organs. When the pain is the worst, I can’t leave the house. There’s no way to wear socks or even pants. Any pressure from clothing is too intense to handle.

Yard Time

I love my time outside in nature. I’m never happier than when I’m listening to the birds sing while I’m covered in dirt, sweat, and grass clippings.

As much as I love it, I have to limit my yard time. On bad days, there’s no getting out of bed, so outside might as well be as far away as the moon.

Irrational fears can keep me stuck indoors. Even a glimpse of a neighbor getting their mail feels too stressful, so I stay hidden in the house.

Even on better days, chronic illness enforces its restrictions. One of my medications makes me vulnerable to direct sunlight. I have to be careful to stick to the shade as much as possible. Happily, tall trees shade most of my yard in summer, but this restriction is a constant consideration.

Pinterest Pin:
Imagine living life trapped inside a prison, where every emotion and every thought is a bar to your freedom. 

This is what life looks like for those grappling with bipolar disorder. 

The emotional whirlwind, the unpredictable mood swings, the crippling anxiety, it's a life that is far from easy. 

But, there's a ray of hope! 

There are ways to manage this condition and find your way back to a sense of freedom. 

Read Now!

#SpeakingBipolar #mentalhealth #mentalillness #bipolardisorder #mentalillnessawareness
Please share on Pinterest. Graphic created with Canva AI.

Visitors

There’s no glass wall between me and my guests, but the barrier is still there. Bipolar disorder makes the imaginary glass clouded. I smile and laugh—I know how to play my role—but the visit is often just a blur, mostly forgotten when my guest leaves.

Visitors have to be pre-approved. With a compromised immune system, my doors are closed to anyone with any type of sickness. My anxiety makes many interactions overwhelming, so I choose guests carefully. We may not be in a room crowded with other inmates, but the noise in my head may still be too loud.

There are a few gems of friends who understand. These caring souls stick by my side at every turn. Inmates themselves, they know the ravages of illness firsthand, and they offer comfort even from hundreds of miles away.

A simple text, “Thinking of you,” can give me the boost to make it through the day.

Day Passes

Under special circumstances, a warden may allow a prisoner to leave the prison. Others reach a point where they can work outside the jail. They are free during the day but have to return to their detention at night.

My day passes may come more often, but the same gray cloud hangs over them. Laughing with friends, enjoying a delectable meal in a restaurant, or watching a mesmerizing stage play, my bipolar is never far away.

As much as I try to revel in every second of freedom, the reality of mental illness hovers close. A twinge of depression never leaves, for I know even the best moments will end too soon. Anxiety haunts me like a parole officer, just waiting for a chance to catch me off guard.

Illustration of a happy man walking out of a prison cell
One day, I hope to go free. | Image made by author with Canva AI.

Hope of Parole

Every prisoner dreams of going free. Even those with a life sentence imagine a time when they can live outside the bars again.

Chances are slim doctors will ever cure any of my illnesses. Even so, I hang on to hope. I cling to positivity, gratitude, and love, knowing that even a life imprisoned is worth living. Every life is worth living.

Are you in a similar prison? Then know you’re not alone. This cellmate knows your struggle. I see the bars holding you here. Together, we can keep fighting until we’re free.

Until next time, keep fighting.


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This post first appeared on Medium.

Pinterest Pin:
Imagine living life trapped inside a prison, where every emotion and every thought is a bar to your freedom. 

This is what life looks like for those grappling with bipolar disorder. 

The emotional whirlwind, the unpredictable mood swings, the crippling anxiety, it's a life that is far from easy. 

But, there's a ray of hope! 

There are ways to manage this condition and find your way back to a sense of freedom. 

Read Now!

#SpeakingBipolar #mentalhealth #mentalillness #bipolardisorder #mentalillnessawareness
Please share on Pinterest. Graphic created with Canva AI.

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