I’ve always struggled with my mental health. I started having mental health problems as a freshman in high school at the age of 15 years old. I was bullied relentlessly and was told to kill myself one day and actually attempted suicide at the age of 15 one week before spring break would begin. I was already set to go on a trip and so I was really glad my attempt failed, so I got to go to the Bahamas, but then the bullying continued after spring break.
On November 4, 2011, I had a fight with my mom and was getting bullied at school at the time and by my father who called me fat, and was getting harassed online and I had an emotional breakdown and tried to cut myself with a broken piece of plastic. I tried to stop but kept relapsing each time my inner pain grew as a result of a traumatic event like bullying and so I became addicted to cutting and it intensified before my junior prom came so I had to hide my scars from my date and my parents and friends and teachers at school. I almost developed anorexia at the age of 17.
I had reached my lowest point and was having highs and lows. One moment I would be so happy and full of energy and the next moment sad, depressed, empty, worthless, and tired. I was also hearing voices in my head that were sometimes creative, other times not, other times they told me to cut myself and that scared me.
Yes I used to suffer from psychosis. I don’t anymore and I hope that the voices don’t come back. I have been going to counseling on my college campus, talking to friends, involved in a student-run mental health organization on my college campus, and I have seen a psychiatrist twice now and the first time she saw me she diagnosed me with bipolar disorder type I after asking me a bunch of questions and writing notes down. I will be put onto a mood stabilizer first to stabilize my mood swings and help my manic episodes and if needed then be put onto an anti-depressant.
I truly believe that if I hadn’t been bullied for 10 years that I would not have tried suicide at 15, not started cutting myself, not have wanted to starve myself to the point of becoming anorexic, and lastly, not getting diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I know though that I’m not alone in this fight and that this may be a hard time in my life and yes I will have to live with this for the rest of my life but with medications and psychotherapy and support and respect and care I will fight bipolar disorder like a girl!! Demi Lovato is my role model and inspiration in life and she has bipolar disorder and her music helps me through hard times.
I have sadly already faced stigma for having bipolar disorder and it really hurt my feelings. I may have a mental illness, but that doesn’t make me crazy and stigma prevents me from wanting to help others and myself to get help or get treatment to manage our mental illness or prevents someone from wanting to get evaluated for one if they think they have one or a friend notices and prevents them from getting necessary treatment.
Mental illness doesn’t discriminate; it affects all ages, races, cultural backgrounds, the world, and not only the person who has a mental illness but their families and friends or coworkers or significant other/spouse. Mental illness is a very serious matter that does affect college students. I’m Ali and I am not afraid to tell my story because I hope it will help others like me who may be silently suffering due to fear of being stigmatized like I have been, fear of their friends or family rejecting them due to their mental illness, fear of society and how they view mental illness. I’m not alone and this is not the end of my story and I am happy to be alive and attending college to further my education and hopefully with help and support and the medication this won’t hold me back from achieving my dreams.