Being aware of ones insignificance is one way to live life, a way to cope with the vivid truth that we are one in 6 billion, we are part of a world in a galaxy surrounded by other and even bigger galaxies. Feeling worthless, faceless, and unimportant is one way of going through this life. I’m a huge fan of telling stories, yes me the one of billions, and because of that I’m going to tell you, yes you the reader, my story.
In 2010 I moved back to the United States after 12 years of living in my home country of Palestine. I was ecstatic to start college, just like any other 17-year-old would be, however, little did I know that my college experience, like my childhood, was not going to be ordinary. I’ve always been a sad person you can say, someone hiding behind a smile all the time, but I never thought I was depressed. In the fall of 2010, as I began college and this life changing experience, I was also beginning my journey with one of the deadliest mental disorders out there. In February of 2012, after withdrawing from the University of Virginia for the 2nd time in the past 12 months, I had moved and settled down and called Greensboro my new home. I had left UVa the first time in 2011 due to severe depression, which lead to missing many classes due to feeling exhausted ALL the time, lack of motivation, and my inability to concentrate on schoolwork. The second time, February of 2012, I left after an attempted suicide on my life. I felt like I had reached my limit point. I couldn’t breath and felt like there were two gigantic bricks just constantly sitting on my chest, pushing my lungs down, and preventing air from reaching the rest of my body. I was slowly dying inside my own mind.
Once I left UVa the second time, my parents, my deans, and my sister urged me to see someone to talk to, so I did. I began seeing a therapist and psychiatrist on a regular basis. In the sweet month of March of that same year, I was diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder. I sill remember the day my therapist asked me if I thought I was bipolar and I remember answering, “do I look crazy to you?” I guess the joke was on me then, because just weeks after having that talk I began having intense rapid mood swings. Let me tell you a little about these mood swings. It is like you are on a bike ride and the weather is nice. You are riding in the forest and things are great, you can smell something sweet and you want to follow that smell, so you do. You cycle as fast as you can to reach that sweet smells origin, but instead you get lost deeper in the forest and it begins to rain and pour and your lost, out of breath and it is getting dark, to dark to see. Living with bipolar II is a contestant bike ride with it’s switching from pretty summer sweet-scented weather to cold winter scary dark weather. It is a constant ride.
The thing with bipolar II disorder is that it has the highest suicide rate from between all the mental illnesses. While experiencing a depressive episode, one turns into a zombie like creature: lifeless, hopeless, and helpless. This most of the time leads to suicidal thinking or suicidal attempts. While experiencing a hypomania episode, it’s just like the beginning of the bike ride, everything seems sweet and pretty until things get to pretty and smell too sweet but you don’t know why. It’s that on top of the world feeling, that non-ending “I’m a superhero therefore I can fly” feeling and mindset. Living with bipolar II is very daunting and plain exhausting. I returned to UVa in the Fall of 2012, believing I was ready to take on the world. My mood swings weren’t as rapid as they are now; they used to last days and weeks at times then. I started off on the right foot; I went to class, engaged in conversation with other students, attended meetings, etc. However, I only did these while in a hypomania state. I did things 10x more than they needed to be done, I talked 10x more than I should have, and engaged in activities that were risky and morally questionable, all due to a mood swing. When I got depressed I locked myself in my room and stayed in bed for weeks at times, not leaving my apartment once. I would cry almost everyday, cut myself, and cry some more, also all because of a mood swing. Can you imagine living a normal life with bipolar II? Neither did I, until this past February.
“Please ask mom to take you to the ER, Muna, PLEASE” pleaded, my sister, on the phone after I had taken over 50 pills to try to end my life yet again. As I spoke to my sister on the phone I began to calculate the value of my life. Do I help people? Maybe. Do I care for people more than I care for myself? Yes. Do people care for me? That one was a hard one to answer but having someone beg me to save my own life gave me hope that maybe the answer might be yes to that one too. I ended up in the ER then in a behavioral center later on during the week. My doctors knew I needed to be on a mood stabilizer that eliminated my hypomania, which causes the depressive episode. So that is exactly what they did. They kept me for observation for a few days and I began to see the difference in myself. I began to clearly see the answer to the questions I had once asked myself. I began to heal.
Living with bipolar II is like having this dark invisible tumor in your head messing with and pushing down your chemicals. When left unattended, the tumor grows and grows some more and allows people to turn into someone they truly are not. Being a bipolar and having to learn how to live with this disease I have learnt a lot about myself, life, relationships, my illness, and overall about people and mental illness in general. Yes, it might be one way to live life believing in our own insignificance, but it is great to live believing that we were meant to be something great. We are made up of trillions of cells and the way each human body works is amazing, so why should we look down at ourselves when we are actually extraordinary creatures who can leave an impact on anyone and everyone? Here is one last piece of the story for you. I keep a blog that I share publicly with my friends and even strangers. A day after I was released from the behavioral center, a rape victim contacted me. She was a fellow UVa student who found my blog through Google. She wrote to me to thank me for changing and saving her life through my strength in being able to share my hardships with the world. Through my blog she found the strength to tell more and more people about what she had been through. This amazed me. How can I, me, help someone and save their life. It is by far one of the greatest moments of my life.