By Brandon Koebernik | Featured Contributor
There’s a stigma when it comes to seeking help for mental issues. After 6 years in the military, I would have never dared to bring up an issue I was having. The fear of judgment or of appearing “weak” amongst my peers was incredibly debilitating in an of itself. I played it off; fake smile every now and then, pretending I was “normal”. I was emotionally withdrawn and apathetic towards life.
Ups and Downs
It wasn’t until I started noticing patterns in my life that I thought something was genuinely off about me. I had periods of hypomania, which I didn’t know what that was at the time. I would feel great about myself; I felt as if I could do anything. I would start new projects that I declared would be my new passion in life and make a career out of, only to lose interest several days later. I was up late at night working on these projects; often until 3AM and waking up at 7AM to start my day. My mind was constantly racing, so much so that I couldn’t stop myself stumbling over my words when talking…which I did a lot of. If I wasn’t motivated to be the next Picasso, I was out spending tons of money on unnecessary things, putting myself in debt. Not to mention the increased irritability that ruined friendships with people I cared about.
Then there was the periods of depression. I was aware of these and understood how they felt. What I didn’t know was that these aren’t exactly normal occurrences for ordinary people. We all get sad sometimes, but not to this degree. Several weeks at a time I would only want to stay in bed; unmotivated and not wanting to participate in activities I used to love. I was battling demons behind closed doors and I didn’t understand why. There was no external entity that made me feel this way. There was nothing that could have upset me to make me feel this hopeless. One day it hit me: I need to get help.
A Healing Journey
This was the best decision I’ve ever made. After 6 months of seeing a psychologist and having been diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder, I felt a sense of clarity. There was a set of words to describe my actions and how I felt. I could call it as it is: a chemical imbalance in my brain. No longer was I feeling guilty for being unmotivated to do regular everyday things. No longer did I feel like I was just over exaggerating or being lazy. It wasn’t my fault, and it’s not your fault either if you feel the same way.
I say we crush the stigma; don’t feel ashamed of seeking help if you think you need it. Likewise, support others’ decisions to seek help if they want to better their lives. Your brain is a muscle; just like any other muscle, you need to train it to make it stronger. This comes in the form of being mindful and living in the moment. Live for today and don’t be ashamed of who you are. Seek the help you need. No one is judging you.
Brandon Koebernik is a 24-year-old man who was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 Disorder. He feels now that it is now his mission to encourage others to seek help and promote positivity through a shared passion of video games, art, poems, and more. As the creator of the blog The Bipolar Gamer, Brandon has a profound passion for helping others in their journey to living a better life..
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