• Nick Hartkop

August 9th, 2021 (Rehabilitation/Mental Health: Bipolar/BPD)

I think the world is becoming more understanding and accepting of mental illness, but I still see a stigma towards people who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar.

I think because other mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, are often associated with a personal internal struggle, it makes it easier to empathize with and relate to. People with an illness such as BPD or Bipolar tend to have external struggles that hurt people around them and themselves, and because of that, it’s easy to dismiss.


I saw an article about a celebrity who is struggling with BPD and one of the top comments said, “people with BPD are irredeemable” and it really hurt me to see. Living with Borderline and having the manic highs and lows of it are unlike anything you alone are prepared for. The highs of my mania are like snorting cocaine up your ass and I feel like Superman, but at the same time I feel violent and angry, so I describe it as kind of like Superman on Ketamine. It’s like losing all control of yourself and every angry thought, every impulsive word become unfiltered. In my case, when I was manic, I would become verbally abusive in fits of rage that I wouldn’t stop until the person was ground into dust.

I’d lash out and put holes in walls and tell people I didn’t care about them and become so self-destructive that I hoped people would just let me spiral into my death. The thing I learned is that people will let you do that. No one was going to save me from my mental illness. I came from a small rural town in Ohio, where the concept of mental health was pretty unheard of. My old social circle had little understanding of mental health and no intention of learning about it. They would tell me I was making up my mania and that I was “crazy”. And they were right, I am crazy, I have Borderline Personality Disorder.

How they perceived mental health was how I perceived it, it was something to be ashamed of and to just “get over”. They were raised by families who never discussed mental illness because it was a weakness. My parents were the same way, they would tell me if I was “really crazy they would take me to the doctor” and they made it out to seem like having something wrong with you was meant to be bottled up and ignored. If you let it show, you aren’t normal and you won’t amount to shit.


I think that stigma is also perpetuated by the media. Take Kanye West for example. I think he is an incredible artist and a savant for his craft, and created songs that have changed the course of music and saved millions of lives, but I think he is a horrible example of handling Bipolar and it offends me. I don’t like the idea of labeling your mental illness as a super power and as something that fuels your creativity so you won’t be medicated because you “can’t write music.”


Medication is a must for my mental illness. I take it for my Borderline and it keeps me balanced chemically. If I miss my medication, I become an entirely different person. Therapy is necessary to maintain mental health and rehabilitation at our lowest. But therapy alone isn’t enough for Borderline, or for Bipolar, in my experience. It takes all of those things and the willingness to understand your own mental illness and grow with it. You won’t ever cure your mental illness, but you can control it.


I wish I could figure out a way to help the stigma of Borderline and Bipolar become less of a thing, but look at me, my past self is a contributing factor to why it’s stigmatized. I remember when I was on social media and people would say things like “I’m sick of waiting for Nick to get better” and I understand that. It’s hard to see someone being outwardly mentally ill and it tests patience and acceptance, and before I started treatment for my mental illness I didn’t care about “getting better.”


I’m proud to say that I am at a point now where I am getting better. Am I better? No. I still struggle daily with my mental illness, but I recognize the toxic behaviors that come from it, and how to counter those things. Medication for the mania, therapy for the anger, recognition of triggers and situations that are unhealthy for me and being able to handle those things in a safe way. I work hard to be self aware of my behavior, even in my mania. I struggle with being manic a lot still, but the way I am manic has changed completely because of my treatment.


The way I live my entire life has changed completely. I have a lot of regret about how I’ve lived my life and how self-destructive I was. It hurts looking back on, and I know it hurts other people too. But what I’m trying to do now is be someone who has failed so badly publicly, because of my own choice not to treat my Borderline the way it needed to be, and show that it is possible to life a safe fulfilling life with it, and do the things you want to do in your life.


I didn’t know I had BPD until I was admitted after my suicide attempt, but every day since I have taken it seriously and it has changed my life for the better. I am a reason that BPD is stigmatized, and I have a responsibility to be a reason that it can be seen as something that can be controlled and “redeemable.”


All mental illness is redeemable, but it takes work to do that. It takes time and follow through and commitment to doing what’s right, even when it’s not easy. That’s what I’ve been trying to do, and my journey is one of millions of other people who have fucked up their lives with this illness, and hurt others with it. I want to be a good person, I want to help people. My mental illness is not an excuse for my failures, but it helps me understand the way I was. If I were acting the same way, it would show I haven’t grown at all.


How do I become the person I want to be while having Borderline? How do I maintain staying healthy? Who am I hurting with my mental illness, and what are the long term consequences of what I’m saying and doing? These are all things I actively think about because I never did before. The external damage that is caused by failing to control BPD or Bipolar is the reason it’s stigmatized. It’s because it’s scary and intimidating and people without mental illness can’t imagine acting that way, and I understand that. It’s hard for me to look back at how I used to act before my treatment, and it scares me. It’s hard to empathize with someone with mental illness who is hurting other people as well as themselves.

I want to redeem myself and my mental illness, and I don’t care how long that will take. Despite my massive failures I want be someone with BPD who has survived it and came out the other side for the better. It will take the rest of my life, but the last year and a half has been the start to a journey that I’m not going to give up on. I am ashamed of the struggles I face, but I openly accept it because if I were to run from it, then the path to recovery has never really started.


Everyone is worthy of being what they want to be, and growing alongside their illness. Staying off social media is a must for me with my with Borderline and Bipolar, and nothing good comes from it. The impulses of posting, arguing, and obsessing are fed every moment you are online. The paranoia, anger, and need for social acceptance that come with it is harmful to anyone’s mental health. That being said, everyone’s mental illness is unique to them, and up to them to understand their triggers and what works.


I am interested to see where the discussion/public perception of BPD and Bipolar are headed in our lifetime. External destruction from mental illness is hard to empathize with because it seems selfish, and it is, so it’s up to us who have that illness to show that we can grow with it and overcome it. If you are struggling, you aren’t alone.

Over the course of last year I wrote a film that took inspiration from the situation I created for myself and BPD, and I have been shopping it around to agents. I am debating publishing it also and putting it out, but it’s too early to tell. Either way, it’s important to never stop creating, despite our failures.

Nick

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On a music-related note, I’ve finished two demos for songs that I think are better than anything I’ve put out recently. I like the electric I’ve written on them, and they keys remind me of my older stuff. It’s annoying because I get overwhelmed when I think I’ve written a good song and I want to record it immediately and upload it so people can see that I’m capable of writing good music. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I’m using this EP as an opportunity to not feed my paranoia that I’ll be forgotten, and take my time releasing it. It also doesn’t matter because not that many people care anymore, so I want to give the people who do something that means a lot to them.

I’m really proud of these songs and want to share them when the time comes. I’m excited to be able to share more with you soon. Thanks for listening

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